Best Album (Rap): Nothing Was the Same - Drake
On Tinder I just spam the opening 4 lines to “Hold On, We’re Going Home” to all the girls I get matched up with and it always fucking works. “Started From the Bottom” also conveniently dropped around the same time I started working in a skyscraper. Drake isn’t the type of rap king that we all want… he’s the one we deserve.
Best Mixtape (Rap): Y.R.N. Young Rich Niggas - Migos
In a year defined for me by trap songs with hooks that I would scream at inappropriate points, this one had the best hooks, the craziest beats, and the most ignant ad-libs. You couldn’t avoid Versace. Hannah Montana was the definitive sonic statement on Miley Cyrus, even moreso than her own album. And the fucking beats on Bando and Out Da Gym… yeah this shit is fucking perfect. If it was an album it would have blown Drizzy away.
Best Song (Rap): Picacho - Young Thug
I have no idea why this title is spelled like it is, because it’s clearly about Pikachu. On this track, Young Thug threw his voice harder than any other rapper (Migos, Danny Brown) could muster. Rap is definitely having its moment with dissonant delivery, and I predict that this type of hollering is going to define the flow of the decade. Oh yeah, and this beat is fucking beautiful. Like, Drunk In Love levels of beautiful.
Best Album (Rock): Reflektor - Arcade Fire
I haaaated the title track on this. So when I was reading that this album was going to be “exploring new sounds” for the band or whatever I was really worried it was going to be shitty dance-crossover attempts. Thank god it ended up being dub- and dancehall-crossover attempts!
Best Song (Rock): I Sat By the Ocean - Queens of the Stone Age
I think rock and roll is entering a phase, like blues and jazz, where it’s so established in its tropes that it needs to be criticized not for how forward-thinking it is conceptually, but how well executed it is. We talk about “greats” often as people who pushed the boundaries of their genres. But that doesn’t happen every time they sit down to write a song. Sometime they just write great songs we can instantly identify with sonically. This is a fucking great song.
Best Live Show: Yeezus Tour @ the Wells Fargo Center
For the record, I am a Kanye stan. The dude isn’t infallible in my eyes (in fact, “I Am A God” was my least favorite song on Yeezus). Leading up to the show, I was very paranoid my date was going to get cancelled because of the truck crash bullshit. And it was a bit of a personal affront that he would cancel such an expensive tour (I paid $90 for my seat) over a screen that I didn’t care about. But when I saw the masked man emerge among his ballerinas and declare “Yeezy season approaching, fuck whatever ya’ll been hearing” I knew that whatever I’d been hearing in the press about his attitude towards the tour needed to get thrown out the window. The cancellations had to happen because honestly, this show got elevated to some higher plane of existence thanks to the epicness that fucking screen brought to the stage. Long story short, this was the best concert I have ever seen.
Best Old Album I Just Discovered: Hell Hath No Fury - Clipse
I hate myself for being so ignorant that I didn’t check this out sooner. Like, how many rappers had I heard kill freestyles over the “Mr. Me Too” beat? How many times had I heard that this was Pharrel’s best production? How many lines on My Name is My Name did I not truly understand because I hadn’t bumped this yet? I’m an idiot. This is a classic.