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Family Reunion Soundtrack: Songs to Play When Ratchet Aunts, Drunk Uncles & More Act Up

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Family reunions are always fun. But only before it becomes clear why everyone gets together only once a year. Under the sweltering heat of the sun, grown sisters bicker about adolescent incidents and uncles go overboard, blaming their behavior on the alcohol. Fathers impatiently work the grill and little cousins inadvertently make you feel old. As soul, hip-hop and R&B blasts from the portable sound system, the scene elicits a smile. After all, this is what family gatherings are about.

In honor of Family Reunion Month, The BoomBox has compiled a list of songs from Frankie Beverly and Maze, Chief Keef and Nicki Minaj, among others, to tell the story of what goes on when the whole family unites in 90-degree weather.

1. Lovin’ the Crew
Soundtrack: “Happy Feelings,” Frankie Beverly and Maze

There’s nothing like a soulful song to get the whole family grooving. Before old issues are revisited and an annoying cousin’s attitude is put on display, Frankie Beverly and Maze‘s “Happy Feelings” is the perfect, euphoric track to get the family in a good mood. “Happy feelings in the air touching people everywhere/ Plenty love and everything/ Listen to the people sing…”

2. Pimp Delusions
Soundtrack: “Atomic Dog,” George Clinton

Last weekend your big brother had a different girlfriend; this weekend there’s a new girl at he family reunion that he’s introducing as his “friend.” As charming as your brother is, everyone in the family knows one day his affection for the ladies is going to get him caught up in some drama. You can almost hear the drop of “Atomic Dog” when he steps in the room.

3. Beef in the Streets
Soundtrack: “I Don’t Like,” Chief Keef

If there’s anyone who can tell you what you should be doing it’s grandpa, and out of respect, everyone just smiles and nods. Whether it’s a mistake made years ago or last week, he’s going to let you hear his complaints. Out of every relative at the reunion, he has a pass to be disapproving — of everything. He won’t hesitate to tell you “the shit [he] don’t like…” either.

4. Foul Behavior
Soundtrack: “Strip,” Chris Brown


There’s always an aunt who looks years younger than her age. The issue is that she knows it and dresses like a teenager — sequin shorts are her signature. When the music is booming, she gyrates to the beat and the adults are uncomfortable watching her grind against picnic tables. She thinks Chris Brown is singing directly to her when “Strip” is cued up: “Take it off I wanna love you and everybody wanna touch you/ You movin’ right, wanna see what’s up under.”

5. Students of the New School
Soundtrack: “Snapbacks & Tattoos,” Driicky Graham


You thought you were cool and in the loop until your little cousins got to the reunion. How can that be? The last time you saw the rugrats, they were still into Wii games and light-up sneakers; today, as you peer over at their table, it’s a blur of skinny jeans, snapbacks and tattoos. The Driicky Graham smash is their theme song: “Nice whips, fly chicks/ All that ’cause cash rules…” Time moves fast.

6. Trouble in the Air
Soundtrack: “Beez In the Trap,” Nicki Minaj Feat. 2 Chainz


Your little brother almost didn’t make it to this year’s reunion because he had a court date. He was a truant years ago when you all were in school and nowadays instead of getting a job, he comes up with hare-brained schemes to make money. Then he subsequently blows it all at the strip club. He’s just as clever as anyone in the family but he’s stubborn. “Beez In the Trap” is his reunion song: “A hundred mothafuckas can’t tell me nothin’/ I beez in the trap, bee, beez in the trap.”

7. Grillin’ Ain’t Chillin’
Soundtrack: “Hot in Here,” Nelly

The only one brave enough to man the grill every year is dad. He takes pride in cooking for the family — at least that’s what everyone thinks. No one knows that he’d rather do anything but be tethered to the fiery flames every summer. It’s smoky. It’s hot. It’s torture. And if he could follow Nelly’s advice and “take off all his clothes,” he would. Peeling off every article of clothing and grilling naked sounds alright to him. Let someone else watch the chicken for once.

8. War of Words
“Girlfight,” Brooke Valentine


Sibling rivalries don’t end after adolescence. There are plenty of moms and aunts going at it well after their teenage years. While the rest of the family may not understand, nobody’s bold enough to tell two grown women that their problems aren’t serious enough to beef about. Besides, their most recent tiff will blow over before the food hits the table. But for now, voices are raised and threats are made: “Know you really don’t wanna step to dis/ Really don’t know why you talkin’ shit/ You ’bout to catch one right in the lip…” off Brooke Valentine’s “Girlfight” sounds about right when a war of words is in full effect.

9. Liquid Courage
Soundtrack: “Take It to the Head,” DJ Khaled


Copious amounts of alcohol make some uncles lose their sense of judgement. While your back is turned, he may make a pass at your girlfriend or bust a drunken move on the dance floor. This uncle is known to keep a whole bottle of liquor for himself and take it to the head every few minutes, all while singing Khaled’s “Take It to the Head” track: “One shot, two shots, I’m gone/ Now we gon’ get fucked up/ No excuses no apologies…”

10. Full and Fading
“Wobble,” V.I.C.

You’ve been eating ribs, chicken and burgers for hours. The family’s gone through cases of soda and beer and all anyone wants to do right now is curl up on a cot and sleep for a few hours. There’s nothing left to pack for leftovers and the thought of moving an inch is unfathomable. The only thing the family can do is wobble around and try dancing off some of those calories.


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