We asked rapper, producer Jackson Whalan: What's your favorite song?


Born in Great Barrington, Jackson Whalan first fell in love with hip-hop at the age of 9 after listening to a De La Soul CD that his brother had left at their house.

"It was really the only thing that spoke to me at that time and gave me direction," Whalan said.

By age 11, he had begun rapping and making beats using an old keyboard. At 16, he performed an original song, "Peace Vibrations," at the United Nations headquarters.

Now 27, Whalan has made "a lifelong commitment" to make music that speaks to others. The rapper and producer released "Millennial Sound," an album that seeks to address the struggles and concerns of his generation. Whalan has engaged in causes such as Occupy Wall Street in his personal life, and his solicitude for those issues often makes its way into his lyrics.

"Especially lately, I feel a sense of urgency to talk about these kinds of things through hip-hop," Whalan said. "I wouldn't call myself an exclusively political rapper, but I look at my music as a reflection of what's going on in my consciousness and the collective consciousness, so I try to give it as much time as possible."

Ahead of his show Thursday, from 8 to 11 p.m., at the The Barn at The Egremont Village Inn in Egremont, Whalan, who recently returned to his home in Housatonic after an extensive tour, answered some questions about his favorite songs in a telephone interview with the Eagle.

What is your favorite hip-hop song?

It's got to be "New York State of Mind," by Nas.

What is your favorite song with an overt social or political message?

There's a song by J. Cole on his new album, "KOD," and it's about paying taxes. It's called "BRACKETS."

What is your favorite song that most people probably haven't heard?

My friends are in this band called RAMUUN. This song called "Tibetan Flags."

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What is your favorite song to blast in a car?

It's one of the songs that I just mentioned, but I'll pick another one. It's gonna be a song by Anderson Paak. It's from his album "Malibu," and it's called "The Waters."

What is your favorite song by an artist from the Berkshires?

Does James Taylor count?


I'll go with James Taylor, "You've Got A Friend."

What is your favorite music video?

There's this one Busta Rhymes one where he speeds up the video, and it looks all crazy. I think it's "Break Ya Neck."

What is the best live performance you've ever seen?

I've seen so many amazing shows. Probably Kendrick Lamar. I saw him play at The Hudson Project in New York a couple years back.

Which artist has influenced your work the most?



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