Leonard Cohen: Songs of Leonard Cohen

Chairman Mao's love for Leonard Cohen, Pacman and Peso in North Korea, William Onyeabor remixed and more in our weekly look at music

This week’s PrivateJam comes from Red Bull Music Academy’s resident DJ, record collector and go-to music historian Jefferson Mao—aka Chairman Mao. With Mao’s encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop and impressive interviewing skills with the likes of Dåm-Funk and DJ Premier, we were curious to know what Mao listens to when away from the decks. “I’m absolutely not any kind of authority on Leonard Cohen,” he says, “but this album [Songs of Leonard Cohen]—his debut from 1967—is something that I’ll always go back to whenever I’m feeling contemplative. Musically, there’s an edginess and sparseness to it that, combined with his gentle half-sung half-spoken delivery (and some of the starker imagery of his ‘Free Love’-era lyrics), manages the trick of sounding both intimate and unsettling to me; almost like a lullaby that you’re unsure will soothe you or give you nightmares.”