For BMX rider Nigel Sylvester, the music has to be right at all times. No matter where he is—surveying the best spots in Paris or the Dominican Republic, or cruising around his hometown of Queens, New York where he knows every last ledge—the tunes are always there and in large supply.
Nigel occupies a space that bridges action sports and pop culture like no other rider today. He's slowly become the most recognizable professional in the BMX world, revolutionizing the sport simply by staying true to his style and convictions.
From partnering with Pharrell on their Brooklyn Machine Works line of bikes, to his many endorsements that include Nike and G-Shock, it's not hard to see why Nigel has been so successful at bringing his fresh perspective to the masses. Nigel says it's all about setting himself apart. “I just want to give people access into my world, show them what I'm about.” And the music that inspires him is a big part of that. In fact, he talks about music with the same level of passion with which he talks about his career. "Music is at the heart and soul of what I do," he says. "I don't ride without it."
So what's he listening to these days?
Nigel compiled a list of ten songs that moved him this year, and what makes them so great. From Adele to Drake and Erykah Badu, it's a diverse list, and some of his favorites might surprise.
Adele, "I Miss You"
“The drums on this track are infectious.”
Drake, "Charged Up"
“It's entertaining to see Drake do a diss track called 'Charged Up' but still bring a melodic, mellow vibe."
Pusha T, "M.P.A"
“The content of the song, the production, and the features. Everything about it is amazing.”
Travis Scott, "Oh My Dis Side"
“Travis' production is always on point and I love the way he switched the beat up on this joint.”
Tame Impala, "New Person Same Old Mistakes"
Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, "Black Friday"
“I’m a true fan of freestyles and straight bars. Kendrick killed this one. The idea of him and J. Cole rapping on each others' beats is genius.”
Meek Mill, "Lord Knows"
“My favorite Meek track of the year and a great way to intro the album.”
Erykah Badu, "Hello"
“Erykah and Andre 3000 just murdered this track. They executed the concept flawlessly.”
ASAP Ferg, "Tatted Angel"
“It's a treat to hear Ferg rap like this and just remind people that he can tell engaging stories.”
Justin Bieber, "Where Are You Now?"
“Good feeling tune.”
Juan Vidal is a writer and critic for NPR and a contributor to Esquire, VIBE, and The Daily Beast. He's on Twitter: @itsjuanlove