Rather than offering up my take on an insane, confusing year in Hip Hop that I don't think we will truly be able to put in context for about 5 years due to the wildly divergent opinions abound as to what truly mattered, I'll speak on the year in terms of the one subject I have true authority on: This blog. I did a little light posting toward the end of 2008 but in many senses this was my first year maintaining my own site. For those who read the blog, weren't aware and are mildly interested, I began my contributions to Hip Hop discussion on the internet for a now defunct webzine called Oh Word.
My vehicles of choice were long, (in the 2000 aught blog sense of the word) context obsessed researched arguments or reviews concerning mostly older albums, trying to shed some light on, pay tribute to or dismantle pieces of work that I felt had been forgotten or misunderstood. I'd typically spend up to a month working on each one. When Oh Word shut down, I decided to start this blog so I could continue to have an outlet as well as a forum for discussion and debate, which is what I truly love about the blogosphere and why I continue to write here and read elsewhere.
What I hadn't considered was how wildly the self imposed demands of regular posting would change my style. The transition from being part of a team and having a niche to being solely responsible for a site is a difficult one I've done my best with. For anyone who is contented reading other people's blogs and occasionally thinks to themselves "This shit is easy, if I cared I could set up and run the best fucking site on the internet tomorrow", you are wrong. You're an arrogant asshole and you're wrong. Balancing a full time job with putting together relevant, insightful, well thought out writing on a regular basis is really difficult. Even foraging for interesting, timely or slept on music worth a reader's time is really difficult. In the course of 2009 I feel sometimes I was able to contribute something worth my reader's time and sometimes I was not. As we come to the year's finale let's review my best and worst efforts.
You can't win if you don't play.
I find blogging to be a question of inspiration, if you look at the list of posts by month to your right you can see with me it's either been feast or famine here, passion is something I find difficult to manufacture. Take for instance an entire summer of writing I put off in the interest of drinking all night, free shows and an excessive amount of train rides to Coney Island. Massive Fail.
Less Is More.
Something I particularly have to work on tirelessly is self editing. Word count is totally irrelevant to me, but I respect that others have better things to do than slog through my digressions and tangents. This year some of my best work has been concise and specific:
Jadakiss and the ubiquity of Great Pop in New York
C-Murder and Katrina
Red Cafe's Resurgence
The Unexpected Pleasures of Plies
The Education of Juelz Santana
Raekwon Then and Now
Jim Jones and The Heat Makerz.
More Is More.
That being said, I believe that articulate long form essays have an essential place on the internet, beyond taste making it may be the internet's most important contribution to the future and history of Hip Hop discourse. I believe the truly committed, well composed arguments that bring something fresh and worthwhile to the table will be read and remembered, can play a part in the writing of our culture. I don't think I can claim to have written anything on par with that level of discourse, but here were are 2009's best efforts.
How Dead Prez Changed Protest Rap
2Pac's Greatest Album
Andre 3000: Original Beta Rapper
Jay-Z's Shallow Depth
The Triumph of Kid Cudi.
A Tribute to Project Pat.
A Profile of Talib Kweli
Keep It Fresh.
I experimented with a lot of conceptual posts and I think it's a good fit for this blog. I don't aspire to be a taste maker digging through the myriad of shit floating around the net fishing out the stuff I'm going to dedicate the year to championing, defending and apologizing for. At it's best this is fun, interesting and occasionally educational. That being said, with all experimentation there is success and failure. The good includes:
The Diss You Might've Missed Series: Snoop v Suge and Eminem v Cage.
Another Chamber: Killarmy and Wu Syndicate.
The Outkast Tale of the Tape SeriesWhen Antwan Beat Andre
And Hip Hop Tweets, which is something you can get used to around these parts. As you can see upkeeping these is a weakness I will try to remedy.
Other Highlights include some Hip-HopFilm posturing. A few good rants, two mixtapes, a concert review and some comedy. The bad include a couple of over long pieces I didn't spend enough time with, some utterly useless embedding of shit everyone already heard, and a few aborted concepts.
In doing the review for this piece I can honestly say considering the breadth of a year of work I'm proud of this site. It's not without it's weak or lazy moments, but I'm happy with a lot of the writing and I hope you are too. By the time I'm writing this post in 2010 I'll hopefully have done a better job playing to my strengths and improving on general quality of content. For everyone who has checked in this year and will be on board in the future, thanks for your support and I'll see you next year.