Hi y’all! My name is Katelyn Zeser, and I’m a ‘22 and a Questbridge student. I’m here to give all my FGLI ‘25s a bit of a confidence boost. First off, WELCOME! I’m so excited you’re here. Whether you’re thriving, feeling isolated, or somewhere in between, your experience as a first-generation and/or low-income student is important. You’re amazing just for being here, even at times when you’re not sure where you fit in. Don’t let the elite, unfamiliar side of this school scare you. You are meant to be here! Take this playlist to heart and know that you are valued and appreciated. You deserve the very best of Dartmouth because you are Dartmouth’s best. Take it from me. Or, if not from me, from some of these amazing artists.
Any Anderson .Paak fans in the room? If not, you should be. As the closing song of his second studio album, “The Dreamer” is a strong directive: “keep going!” In spite of all the BS, keep kicking. Even if no one else does, your dreams will thank you for it. Cliche, but true.
In the Heights. Wow. What more is there to say? So many good scenes, but the one that had me crying on my couch was this song. This is an FGLI ANTHEM. If you don’t have time to watch the entire musical (which you should), this four-minute piece is maybe the most relatable thing I’ve ever heard. When Nina laments, “I am the one who made it out! / The one who always made the grade / But maybe I should have just stayed home…” Damn. This song is a reminder that you belong here, but it’s okay to acknowledge sometimes that you feel like you don’t.
Rap duo Run the Jewels has never been one to stray away from telling it like it is. “JU$T” is a masterful critique of the systemic racism, classism, violence, and neoliberalism that made your situation like it is in the first place. Even if you “make it out,” the systems in place trying to stop you will always still be there. It’s our job to fight them. At Dartmouth and at home, we can’t let our relative successes fool us. Your work is only beginning.
*Also— don’t know what neoliberalism even is? Honestly, me neither. Here’s a video to explain.
It’s time for an absolute bop. Janelle Monáe’s gospel and jazz influences shine in “Tightrope,” a discussion of the perilous balancing act that comes with intersectional identity. We are all a lot of things, and this makes for important moments of mutual understanding and gutwrenching times of isolation. But whether you’re feeling high or you’re feeling low, you’re always on that tightrope. Don’t worry. If you fall, the amazing people you find here will be there to catch you. Or you can call me!
Do you ever meet someone and wonder, “were you really born with that big of a silver spoon in your hand?” Welcome to Dartmouth, because you will. “Fortunate Son” might be a bit from the Vietnam War era, but its anti-imperialist sentiments and direct, clever criticism of the US elite rings true. In their words, “I ain’t no fortunate son.” So, pick up a guitar, write a good hook, and stick it to the man.
Alright, so you were complaining about Fortunate Son being too old. I get it. Classic rock is a me thing. But Frank Ocean is the coolest, and he’s saying the same thing! I truly think he and Creedence Clearwater Revival would be friends. Anyways, “Super Rich Kids” is a really fun song to listen to because it’s so true. We all have rich friends— it’s the nature of the game here at Dartmouth. We love them, but sometimes, we gotta stop and remember that their material worth can never exceed our worth as human beings. Real love isn’t something you can buy. But I guess you can buy a nice car, which is close? Not sure, I wouldn’t know. But Frank Ocean seems to think not, and I trust him.
You might have made it through this playlist without really knowing a single song. I’ve never been one for chart-toppers, but I hope the music so far has been good (even if it’s not Ari). But “Thrift Shop” is one of those songs that’s just fundamentally awesome. Catchy, great track, and you actually know the words. Thrifting is in style at the moment, but if you’re anything like me, you were raised running around a Goodwill. I still know everyone at my rural Indiana Goodwill on a first-name basis. Kinda weird, but I make it look cool. You don’t have to be that extreme of a thrifter, but if there’s one thing FGLI students know, it’s how to find a good deal. I used to be embarrassed to wear secondhand clothes, but Macklemore made it something to be celebrated. So, here’s the lesson: celebrate your FGLI swagger.
You’re cooler than you think.
You might know Daveed Diggs from Hamilton— his verse in Guns and Ships is the fastest (and in my opinion, the best) rap recorded in Broadway history. But many people don’t know he makes his own music with close friend and collaborator Rafael Casal. “Thug Tho” hits on several themes that have already been explored on this playlist: imposter syndrome, structural disadvantages… the list goes on. But what makes this song particularly great is its flow. Casal and Diggs are extremely talented writers and rappers, and it shows.
Let’s go back to the basics. Mavis Staples’ stripped-down, acoustic track “You Are Not Alone” has a pretty simple message. Did you guess it? You’re not alone. College can be SO rough. And get this. Life after college can be rough too. As a senior, that’s the kicker for me! I challenge you to seek out the people who make you feel as though you aren’t alone, for your freshman year, your Dartmouth career, and the rest of your life. But even with a healthy support system, you can still end up feeling like you’re on your own. So take a second, listen to this song, and remember that you do have a community here. FGLI students look out for each other. I don’t even know you, and I’m pouring my heart out to you on this mixtape. You are not alone.
Okay, this is the end of our journey. I spent an embarrassing amount of time picking the last song. You know the tune, but you have probably never really appreciated it. “Tubthumping” is a song for the downtrodden, those incredibly angry at the world, or just people having a bad day. To tubthump (v.) is to get riled up about something, or to get hammered at a pub after a protest. Very British stuff from a very British band. The famous line “I get knocked down, but I get up again” might seem like a no-brainer. But I think we all have moments where we say, “I would be very comfortable never getting up!” In fact, that was me this morning. But please, if this playlist has taught you anything, it’s that you cannot let the pressure of this school knock you down forever. You can fight, you can rest, you can do good. But don’t let fear paralyze you. In the words of Angela Davis, change the things you cannot accept. Thump some tubs.
You can listen to the full playlist on Spotify.
For all questions, concerns, music recs, fritzes, etc. email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dartmouth Radical