Welcome back to Takeover Tuesday, where each week, Billboard taps chart-topping artists and tastemakers to compile their very own playlist exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. We give the artists free rein to base the list on whatever subject they choose. The only rule? Make it as creative and unique to them as possible.
Leslie Odom Jr. shot to fame by portraying Aaron Burr in the wildly popular musical Hamilton years ago, but 2019 was all about his career as a recording artist. The Tony-winning actor/singer released his third studio album, Mr, on Nov. 8, and plotted a headlining tour for spring 2020.
Mr marks Odom’s first LP of all-original songs, which gave the Grammy winner a chance to flex more of his creativity than ever before. In addition to the album, Odom starred alongside Janelle Monae and Cynthia Erivo in the Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet, playing another historic role as abolitionist William Still.
With everything he’s done this year, Odom sees 2019 as perhaps his “best year ever.” So for his Takeover Tuesday playlist, he put together the songs that soundtracked his year, aptly titled “My 2019 Scrapbook.”
Of course, the 20-song playlist features a few tracks from Mr, but also a handful of oldies from icons like Ray Charles and Sam Cooke because Odom took a break from modern music while creating his latest album. There are also some 2019 releases from Bon Iver, Anderson .Paak, Rapsody and Black Pumas, as well as a few 2018 tracks from artists like Robyn and Emily King.
As you look back on your year, take a listen to Leslie Odom Jr.’s 2019 Scrapbook below, and see what he had to say about each of his picks.
Moonchild, “Wise Women”: This album came out not long after I started listening to modern music again. The whole project goes down so easy.
Raphael Saadiq, “Something Keeps Calling (feat. Rob Bacon)”: Such a treat watching this legend create and re-create himself over and over.
Rapsody, “Aaliyah”: So much heart and joy; lyrics to ruminate over. 2019 gave us a classic from Rapsody. The Eve album is a real achievement.
Ray Charles, “Let the Good Times Roll”: I revisited this masterpiece on the regular while we recorded Mr. I had never taken such a deep dive into the work. I learned quite a bit — main lesson being: There will never be another Ray Charles so you best be about the business of being the most incredible version of yourself as you can possibly muster.
Leslie Odom Jr., “U R My Everything”: Still makes me wanna dance when I hear it. One of the greatest gifts of 2019 for me.
Astyn Turr, “Sleep”: Been obsessed with her voice for two years. Instagram introduced me. Begged her to come sing on my album. She obliged. She also put out this little mini project of original lullabies. Such a special talent.
Emily King, “Look at Me Now”: I wanted to move into this album. Loved it top to bottom. The songwriting, the singing, the production. 2019 is the year I became a lifelong Emily King fan.
Anthony Ramos, “One More Hour”: There’s nothing like witnessing a young artist that you believe in come into their own. Ramos’ project is a pop revelation, especially if you’re lucky enough to know the guy or his story at all.
Michael Kiwanuka, “You Ain’t the Problem”: My ?rst listen is tattooed on my brain. A trusted friend texted me I needed to listen. He was right.
Sam Cooke, “The Best Things in Life Are Free”: 2019 brought me this 50-year-old bop from Mr. Soul himself. I’d never listened to Sam Cooke at the Copa in full. His set opener knocked me out. Was on loop for me this year.
Cécile McLorin Salvant, “One Step Ahead”: Thank God for friends with good taste. A buddy of mine went to see Cecile in concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center and texted me on her way out of the venue. “Listen to her!!” Very thankful I did what I was told.
Black Pumas, “Stay Gold”: 2019 sees them getting the mainstream recognition they deserve. Super special project.
Samora Pinderhughes, “Inertia”: Honest and interesting. I was so drawn to it this year. One of my most listened to tracks of the year for sure.
Bon Iver, “Hey, Ma”: An innovator is gonna innovate.
Leslie Odom Jr., “Cold”: I was so grateful when inspiration showed up in our writing sessions and this song emerged. Doesn’t always happen. I love singing it. Truth is, 80% of the ?nal vocal on the album is from that very ?rst “scratch vocal.”
The People’s Workshop, “Save Your Money”: Old song but new to me. I heard it at one of my favorite hotels in NYC and ?ipped for it. Thanks, 2019.
Buddy, “Hey, Up There (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)”: Fresh. Became a Buddy fan this year.
Robyn, “Honey”: It’s been two years. Still listening to this sexy track and a few others from Robyn at least once a week.
Anderson .Paak, “Make It Better (feat. Smokey Robinson)”: So strong. This song will come on in 15 years and it’ll immediately throw me right back to this time in my life. And I won’t be mad at all.
Leslie Odom Jr., “Freedom”: 2019, you felt a lot like freedom. Thank you. And onward. Let’s see what the new year brings.