Playlist for a Pan-African Dinner Party

photo shamelessly stolen from Ikea Overallt

Imagine this.

You are an early-career professional renting a small but cozy 2–3 bedroom apartment in a neighborhood like Brooklyn, NYC or Lekki Phase I, Lagos or Xuhui, Shanghai in the summertime. Your apartment has a lovely balcony, and, a little burned out from your week of work, you’ve decided this weekend would be a good time to just decompress instead of doing anything crazy.

So, you pick up some bottles of good wine, you invite some close friends over, and you decide what to cook that evening. You set the table (on your balcony) as your guests arrive, during golden hour. It’s a lovely evening.

Good drinks, good food, good people — all you need now is good music.

So, for all of you that have whatever day job but are always artsy aspirational design-y creatives at home, I have the perfect playlist for your dinner party (or at least, to make your 1-room studio feel similarly glamorous when you invite people over).

I have tested this playlist extensively — not at an actual dinner party, but, using the description given, as an attempt to transport myself from whatever unpleasant situation I find myself in (working on deadlines, driving in traffic, generally stressed) to a small fantasy in my head. This is an anecdote I tell myself about the future; a future where I am successful but have leisure time, where I could finally move to Addis Ababa and feel contented with the level of systemic stability, a future where I could be maximally fulfilled. Sometimes, being in the United States feels like being a fish out of water, especially after spending three months outside of it — but I digress, that’s a story for another blog post.

The point is that this playlist is a fantasy — but a very accessible fantasy. I hope to use it for a real dinner party soon, and maybe you can too. Something to play in the background over dinner conversation or while guests are still picking at hors d’oeuvres. Something that is soothing, rather than the ever-popular dance beat. Something that will seal in your friends’ respect for your good taste. Classics, like “Premier Gaou”, rising artists, like Sun-El Musician, the unexpected (and possibly lesser-known), like VanJess.

It’s not particularly long. I thought about adding more but decided not to — you can add your own tracks, or, if you’re like me, by that point in the evening the guests will start requesting their own songs anyway. I’d call it a well-curated starter set of songs.

Enjoy *clinks glass*.




A little visual moodboard for this playlist.

MIT grad, robotics engineer, mixed. A place I write.

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