Digable Planets: Blowout Comb
Ireland says he plays this “low-key hip-hop, trip-hop” record around opening time since it’s pretty mellow. While he thought that displaying De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising prominently on the bar would make it the most-played album, “This one was actually what people flipped out about. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like it.”
When most guests are wrapped up in quiet conversations (or first dates), this is a go-to. Ireland says that this album is “something that, for me, like some wines, you can think about seriously, just enjoy, or use as a backdrop to conversation. A beautiful record with high-level production.”
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Joy Division: Peel Sessions
This record from one of Ireland’s all-time favorite bands offers a fresh, live performance of the band’s hits. Ireland uses it as a lead-up to more high-tempo music when the bar is beginning to fill up—he considers it a good break from hip hop—though he sometimes also uses it as a cool-down record as the bar starts thinning out late at night.
HVW8 Presents: Music Is My Art
A compilation helps bring varying styles—soul, hip hop, nu jazz, and broken beat—into the heart of the evening, and this is a favorite along with Unfold Presents: Vocalise by Robert Luis and The INCredible Sound of Gilles Peterson. If stranded on a desert island, Ireland says he’d want all of these on hand.
Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique
“One thing we learned, happily, is that we can either meet the vibe of the crowd or direct it with the music,” says Ireland. To make the room feel a little more lively, there’s always Rump Shaker. “I think all DJs have that one tune they keep in their back pocket for emergency heat. This is mine. The album is like a shot of adrenaline.”
Maggie Hoffman is the author of “The One-Bottle Cocktail,” coming in 2018 from Ten Speed Press, and the former managing editor and drinks editor of the website Serious Eats. She is based in San Francisco.