Friday, January 15, 2010
Best Of 2009: Loose Ends
For one, I'm actually taking this blog seriously (or as seriously as you can take a blog) as opposed to before where it was a place for me to sporadically and jerkily opine about stuff from what I presumed was a rarefied standpoint and work on non-academic writings. I'm still working on the paragraphing/run-on sentence issues I've developed somewhere between high school and college, but the actual quality of my writing has thankfully shifted from reactionary indignation to actually parsing out ideas and putting out posts that I'd actually be proud enough to have people read. Hence, I'm finally importing my feed into Facebook. Some of that motivation comes from the few comments I've gotten since people stopped checking me out via No Trivia and my traffic, or whatever kind of digital attention I can measure through comments, dropped. (My posts for most of the year were sporadic, and I hadn't contributed to The Biographical Dictionary of Rap or anything shout-out worthy in a minute, so that makes sense.)
Most of the other motivation comes from blog love. I got added to Metal Inquisition's blogroll, which was awesome because I absolutely love them (as well as Stuff You Will Hate), and I received some great supportive comments from Combat Jack (CHEA!), Frank Leon Roberts and Ron Mexico, who are all on my blog roll for their respective greatness and contributions to my prolonging my (super-) senior project. Especially Ron, who kept it 100 and gave me some good advice back in December.
I've actually got a lot of posts in the backlog to get done, so hopefully the summertime doldrums/metaphysical ennui that takes hold of me every year on this thing doesn't happen again.
tl;dr version: I write wells n shit; holla.
So regarding loose ends, I left comedy albums and mixtapes out of my best albums list so as to not clutter up the main list and to heap the proper amount of praise and attention onto some of the better examples of each. Although I could've bumped Brutal Truth for any one of the 78 Gucci tapes put out this year, because fuck that band.
I'm eschewing my patented "write a ridiculous amount of mini-essays for every listed work" thing for ranked blurbs because I'm exhausted and lazy.
Best Comedy Albums of 2009
1. Maria Bamford- Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome
Maria wins out for finally making an album that approximates how flawless and laser-like her Comedians of Comedy set was when I went to see them with Christian two and a half years ago. Most people hear the voices and shallowly stop there, but that's like faulting a scorpion for it's tail. Maria Bamford is a comedy scorpion, and underneath there's a soft underbelly that has transformed late 90's single working woman humor into honest and dark comedy that tackles mental illness and the soul-crushing and ridiculous minutiae of life in a hyper-aware way that doesn't suggest bland observational comedy about cereal isles of hot pockets, but, you know, something actually funny.
2. Patton Oswalt- My Weakness is Strong
Feeling Kinda Patton is still my favorite but that's because of the fact that it's 15 years of jokes condensed into one album. After Oswalt unloaded that he had to start new with material that takes a few more listens to parse out some of the bleakest and most linguistically interesting comedy being made by the over-30 set. But it's worth it. I listened to Werewolves and Lollipops recently and, like 90's rap, I've caught a bunch of hilarious bits that were deeper and more affecting than I had noticed initially. Despite occasionally making me worry that he may be becoming broad and edgeless in his success and maturity, I'll prolly catch new this with this jawn as well.
Also: "Uncle Touchy's Naked Puzzle Basement"
3. John Mulaney- The Top Part
My feelings about John Mulaney are summarized in this poorly written show review, but I should add that you can clearly tell from this album that he's either going to become completely unfunny or become the funniest comedian in NY by the time he hits 30. 30 is the magic number for comedians, as everyone except Oswalt, Murphy and Chapelle hits their peaks late, well after they started doing stand-up.
On a similar note, Aziz Ansari is not funny.
4. Eugene Mirman- God is a Twelve-Year-Old-Boy With Asperger's
I always found Eugene cute but not at all funny. His act really only seemed to work if you weren't already into alt-comedy and ridiculous, sort of absurd stuff. And, like the Pitchfork review got right on the mark, he's a lot funnier outside his albums anyway. This record is the strongest thing he's record though, and his set at Purchase for Fall Fest was fortunately a lot funnier and less constantly winking than I was expecting.
5. Paul F Thompkins- Freak Wharf
Haven't listened to it, can't find a download link that isn't a shit bitrate, but it's Paul F. Tompkins, goddamit! It's bound to be good.
Best Mixtapes of 2009
1. Joell Ortiz- Covers the Classics
I got familiar with this when I decided to walk from my house to West 4th over the summer, which allowed me the time and need for distraction to digest '09's rap releases. I've been checking for Joell for about three years, and his solo albums and group record with Slaughterhouse never really struck me as that interesting or good but that doesn't mean he can't rap his ass off. This had an unbeatable combination of Joell's raps, short song lengths, and a sampling of the most classic instrumentals in the history of rap.
2. Drake- So Far Gone
Begrudgingly. Like Drake'll tell you himself ad nauseum, it managed to accomplish more than most actual albums this year, including popularizing Canadian rap in a way k-os wasn't really able to. Plus, if you take it as an R&B record as opposed to a pure rap mixtape, it's pretty consistent.
3. Nicki Minaj- Beam Me Up Scotty
I don't need to proselytize any further about Nicki, 'cept to say that heads who don't like this need to loosen their kufis.
4. Lil' Wayne- No Ceilings
Sort of got yawns because of his over-exposure and newer rappers getting shine, but it's a lot more of a return to form, or at the very least a higher terrible:good simile ratio that he's been coasting on since 2008.
5. Gucci Mane- The Cold War Series, The Movie 3: The Burrprint
These sound better to me every day following The State vs. Radric Davis, but I still contend that a lot of the beats on the Gucci mixtapes are more washed out and boring than anything reaching stuff like "Dope Boys" or some of the better songs on each mixtape. This makes sense since Gucci approaches all of these like albums of original songs instead of beat-jacking the hot 100 and surprising throwback cuts like Wayne and the Clipse have done.
6. J. Cole- The Warm Up
On a cursory listen, J.Cole can clearly rap really well, but that's not worth a shit at this point. Almost everyone can rap well. The thing about J.Cole is that he's essentially a N.Y. rapper from the South and shares Blu's tendencies to be consistent to a fault, almost being too normal of a rapper to where it becomes bland. Listening to this mixtape, as someone with a boner for 90's rap, is comforting, but not at all that interesting or challenging. Or maybe I'm just tired of "triple entendre" punchlines.
Finally, thanks to everyone on my blog roll for existing, thanks to anyone who ever thought something I posted was interesting or enraging enough to comment on.