empath 3.jpg

Marcus Amaker is the poet laureate of Charleston. 

Charleston's poet laureate is consistently abuzz in the local arts, music and literary scene.

Marcus Amaker just released a brand new poetry book, "empath," with a debut party at the Gibbes Museum. While local DJ Sista Misses was spinning some beats to kick off the night, Amaker avidly expressed the impact of music on his life, particularly his writing. 

"I'm always writing poetry to music," he says. In fact, he will be releasing a poetry and jazz album with Ranky Tanky percussionist Quentin Baxter in the coming weeks. 

In the meantime, we asked him about his five favorite songs of all time as part of our new monthly "Charleston Playlist" column, following up our January article where we featured the top tracks from 20 local musicians.

Here are Amaker's picks: 

1. Tune-Yards, “Water Fountain”

Merrill Garbus doesn’t align with any stereotype or any particular music style. She’s wholly original in everything she does, and “Water Fountain” (from 2014’s Nikki Nack) is a perfect place to start if you want to dig deeper. Give me this bass line everyday, please. It’s tribal, funky and hits you in your whole body. There's even an homage to Busta Rhymes! Love it.

2. Sleater-Kinney, “Let’s Call It Love”

Holy moly, this is a fantastic track. Everything that S-K does well is in this song. It’s a guitar goddess’ dream; it’s epic, it’s melodic, it’s noisy. In my opinion, Sleater-Kinney is easily the best rock band of our generation.

3. Prince, “The Everlasting Now”

There will never be another artist like Prince. “The Everlasting Now” is one of the best songs from a man who could do everything. It shifts from rock and funk to Latin-inspired rhythms in the span of eight minutes. Check the live version, which might be a little better than the studio track. Dig it.

4. Dorothy Ashby, “Soul Vibrations”

More people need to know about the jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby. Why? Because her music works in every situation. Hardcore jazz fans will definitely dig her music, but it also can appeal to electronic musicians and hip-hop aficionados. “Soul Vibrations” should be sampled more. It sounds incredibly modern for a track made in 1967.

5. Flying Lotus, “Never Catch Me” ft. Kendrick Lamar

The best beat of all time? Maybe. The best breakdown of all time? Maybe. Kendrick’s best feature? Most definitely (not up for debate, in my opinion). You can hear Flying Lotus’ lineage all over this track — he’s related to Alice Coltrane, you know. I’ll never get tired of this song.

Live your most local life with the help of our handpicked music, events and food stories. Delivered to your inbox every Thursday.


Reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.