Top 10 Soul Summer Cookout Jams

Summer cookouts are defined by the music they attract. On a warm, sunny outdoors gathering, the music sets the tone, breaks the ice and energizes all present.  What are some of the top jams that folks like to cook out to?

We took to the internet and asked our readers, and it was interesting to see what  they said. Blogger Todd Grundy’s cookout playlist would include Earth, Wind & Fire, Sly and the Family Stone, and P-Funk.  Maryland-based visual artist Falando Thomas says, “Anything old school” makes for a good soundtrack for a cook-out.  But what constitutes “old school” nowadays? Is old school Michael Jackson and Commodores, or are acts like Jodeci and Jagged Edge now considered old school? South Carolina-based reader Tracey George wasn’t concerned about defining old school, for the singer/songwriter likes it all. She lists Evelyn “Champagne” King and The Stylistics as her cook-out must-haves, while bassist Will Henderson enjoys some mellow music by Marcus Miller. Responses were all over the place.

So, we narrowed it down and pulled out our favorites from the songs I readers listed. Here are the ten songs that made the cut (in no particular order):

“Summertime” (DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince)

The 90s began with this ode to summer that instantly became a classic. While Will Smith’s career as an actor has long surpassed his music career as The Fresh Prince, this song instantly gets heads bobbing as it heralds in the change in season.

“Square Biz” (Teena Marie)

While Teena Marie’s hit from the 80s was one of the first tracks to have a woman break out into a rap on a song, “Square Biz” gets us up and dancing long before her signature flow that comes near the end of the track. The glossy instrumentals and her rousing vocals match any party mood which makes this song a cook out necessity for soul music lovers.

“Before I Let Go” (Maze featuring Frankie Beverly)

Reader Dexter Nixon wrote in that “anything Frankie Beverly” makes the playlist for his cookouts. And we agree. Our favorite is their 1980 hit “Before I Let Go” which has withstood the test of time with its groove factor.

“Brick House” (The Commodores)

When asked what she wants to hear at her cookout, Virginia-based singer Robin Ewell DeLozier wrote, “Funk, and nothing but the funk!”  The Commodores’ 1977 hit “Brick House” is a funky track that brings the funk from beginning to end.

“Flashlight” (Parliament)

Parliament was on everyone’s list, so, how do you narrow it down? We picked “Flashlight” from a random draw, because the reality is that Parliament can keep the cookout popping from start to finish.

“Give It To Me Baby” (Rick James)

Rick James was another with hit after hit that keeps a cookout grooving. “Give it To Me Baby” may be a bit raunchy if the cookout has a large underage crowd, but it’s one of the songs that the grown-ups most likely won’t be able to get enough of.

“Long Walk” (Jill Scott)

Jilly from Philly brings jazzy soul to your cookout with this hit single that keeps it smooth while still bringing 100% groove.

“Award Tour” (A Tribe Called Quest)

Hip-hop lovers will be the first to tell you that A Tribe Called Quest are hip-hop royalty and their hit “Award Tour” a classic. This tune simmers with soul – an instant party starter at any outdoors event.

“You Rock My World” (Michael Jackson)

Michael Jackson hits are endless, and at a cookout you could probably play his songs the duration of the event and still have some leftover. So picking out a favorite was hard, but we selected “You Rock Your World” for its fun quality that never skimps on the beat.

“OMG” (Usher)

Kids and adults love this song that gets the party started and keeps it going. This track laces Usher’s strong vocals with auto tune, but no one really cares. The beat is really all that.

How do you like our list? Leave a comment and add your own!

–Khadijah Ali-Coleman



  1. Good ones, Quineice!

  2. Thanks for reading Stephen! I like your list, too!

  3. Quineice says:

    I agree with the cookout jam list. Makes me hungry for some grilled shimp, potato salad and a kabob. :-) I would also add “Remember The Time” some late 80’s, 90’s hip hop. Tribe Called Quest, Heavy D, Tupac, Biggie, Boys II Men, Jodeci and anything by En Vogue (“Hold On” is the jam a great sing-a-long)

  4. Stephen McMillian says:

    Great article! These are some great choices for cookout songs. How about the remix of Mary J Blige’s “Real Love,” Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” Marvin Gaye’s
    “Got to Give It Up” and the JBs “Doing it to Death” a/k/a “Gonna Have a Funky Good Time.”

Trackbacks for this post

  1. Latest Posts on «

Leave a Comment

Powered by WordPress | Site by Fishbucket