December 24, 2022
Photo: Brynn Anderson / AP
Barack Obama continues to show love to North Carolina artists with his popular annual music lists, a tradition he started in 2015. This year, the 44th President of the United States included a home state vocal group and producer duo in his list of favorite songs for 2022.
North Carolina R&B/soul trio, The Ton3s (J. Vito, Tony Lelo and 2E) made the list for their feature on Tank and the Bangas’ song, “Communion in my Cup,” from the album, Red Balloon. The Ton3s, formerly The Hamiltones, also worked with Tarriona “Tank” Ball on the track, “Lose It,” for their own album, We Are The Ton3s, released in May.
It’s easy to see why Obama picked the song. Its whistling harmonies blend old school soul and contemporary R&B and gospel into a medley that culminates with a jazzy finale. Tank and the Bangas won the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Contest and were featured on the former president’s 2020 Summer Playlist as well. A remix of the song “Communion in My Cup,” with Atlanta rap duo EarthGang, was also recently released in November.
Raleigh-based production duo, Pelham & Junior, also made Obama’s list for the song, “Feelings 4 You,” by Texas R&B crooner Xavier Omar. Pelham & Junior, consisting of rapper/producer Pat Junior and multi-instrumentalist Justin Pelham, recreated the samples on the track originally produced by Bizness Boi and Relle Rideout. The song features a warm future R&B boom-bap arrangement with Omar’s vocals floating over the soothing track. Charlotte’s Autumn Rainwater is also featured on a vocal sample produced by the duo, along with some mind-melting guitar by Austin, Texas musician Billy Blunt Jr.
Pat Junior, who first connected with Omar back in 2018, also raps on the track “Dream,” produced by Jay Versace on Omar’s latest EP, blurr. Junior released his latest project, Gold Fangs on Sunday, in 2021, which made our list of best albums and EPs by North Carolina artists.
North Carolina musicians and artists have been featured on multiple Obama music playlists since 2015, from Nina Simone to Anthony Hamilton to J. Cole. Most recently, The Foreign Exchange (Phonte and Nicolay) and cellist/singer Shana Tucker were featured on Obama’s 2022 Summer Playlist for the song “Better.” In 2019, Obama picked “Raleighwood Hills” for his 2019 year-end list, which featured talented Triangle artists LestheGenius, Sonny Miles, and Jaxson Free.
Check out full list of Barack Obama’s favorite songs of 2022: