“Can you feel what I feel when I feel what I feel?” – Ab-Soul, Empathy (feat. Alori Jah & JaVonte’)
For better or worse, I fell whole hog into streaming music this year as Spotify’s player is just so convenient. I don’t think I’ve purchased less music than I have in 2012 in my adult life. That said, I think it’s important to pay for the things you love or because of scarcity—that does work record industry (if it’s good)—so these are the albums I bought this year in some kind of order of magnitude that gets fuzzier the further down the list you get.
- Channel ORANGE by Frank Ocean
- Black Radio by Robert Glasper (and the remix album)
- The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
- Good kid, m.a.a.d. city by Kendrick Lamar
- The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do by Fiona Apple
- Radio Music Society by Esperanza Spalding
- Pour Une Âme Souveraine by Meshell Ndegeocello
- The Hunger Games: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by James Newton Howard
- True by Solange
- Control System by Ab-Soul
- Until The Quiet Comes by Flying Lotus
- Rebirth of Detroit by J Dilla
Channel ORANGE is my album of the year. Frank Ocean‘s debut haunts my mind and has since the moment it was available on iTunes. It is so rare that a creative work lives up to hype and controversy but this exceeds that. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite song from the set but Sweet Life and Super Rich Kids (and Pyramids and Lost and Thinking about You and Bad Religion and Crack Rock and on and on) have often been the songs I catch myself randomly singing.
Beyond his album, Mr. Ocean, though, also represents a lot of what appealed to me this year in music. I enjoyed west coast, thoughtful, identity-driven music like that coming from the Black Hippy Crew or Macklemore and Lewis. The Heist which features Same Love is also a reflection of how much queer-focused music was in my ears these last 12 months whether it was Zebra f’n Katz or Ab Soto or Big Freedia or LE1F whose Dark York I just downloaded this morning after finding myself dancing to the Liquid EP by him and Boody earlier this week.
And then, of course, there were the artistes who are always pushing their genres forward. Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, Meshell Ndegeocello, Fiona Apple, Flying Lotus, and Solange all did that well in 2012.
The Hunger Games was my favorite soundtrack this year (and my favorite movie) but Beasts of the Southern Wild and Skyfall also have that kind of instrumental music conducive to getting in a rhythm at work or with a book.
I’m quite happy with my live music calendar from this year. I’m on the path to accepting that I just won’t see as many acts live as I used to but the concerts I do get to are good ones. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Andrew Lojero’s That 70s Soul show from just a week ago, though, was spectacular.
And I shouldn’t forget the catchy tracks that end up topping my actual charts because they end up on my workout mixes. Shout-out to Maybach Music Group and Radio Disney faves like Carly Rae and Bieber and internet sensations like Gangnam Style and Hot Cheetos and Takis.
Honorable mention to Miguel and Usher and Brandy who all made really solid R&B albums that I have yet to see fit to purchase yet.
Now, go buy some music.
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