2020 was a pretty incredible year for quality albums. We’ve sailed through ninety eight other examples of this fact in the past few weeks. Yeah, I know, did I do a top 100 this year? No, I did a top ninety nine because I’m freaking gangsta. Hmmm, imagine if I’d remembered to list Ariana Grande’s last album? It might have cleaned it up a bit. Ah well, no harm no foul. If you’re wondering, it would have finished arooooooouuuuuuuund… 74th. Despite the raised competition though, despite a high placing on 2020’s list being more difficult than in most recent years, there was still only ever really one record that I ever really imagined finishing top.
070 Shake is Danielle Balbuena, a 22 year old Brooklyn native of Dominican decent who has stealthily being climbing up the Necessary Evil chart in recent years. Her unmistakable, tranquil voice that seems to have been digitally uploaded from the uncanny valley and wears the scars of the distorted transition, had obviously been used recently to add certain sparkle to hip-hop tracks that nothing else was ever going to be likely to be able to do. She appeared on Pusha T’s Santeria,the 37th best album of 2018, offering a haunting and seemingly otherworldly Spanish language segment that the listener assumed would have taken all the talent of producer Kanye West to make sound quite so idiosyncratic and mystifying, not realising that was just what Shake’s voice sounded like. West was similarly enchanted by Shake as I was- as anyone would be, enough to have her guest on two tracks from his own (unfairly maligned, really freaking good) solo record that year, the twelfth best album of 2018, on album highlight Violent Crimes and of 2018 highlight Ghost Town(the 13th best song of the year).
This is officially the end of 2018! And it’s only the 5th January [EDIT: Still only the 6th!]! Although there’s freaking one hundred and thirty six tracks to get through, so this may well take until mid May! Happy Cinco de Mayo! No time to talk! A shit load of songs to get through!!
While Z-Tape’s ‘Spring’ collection was veritably busting at the seems with Legit Bosses, as you’ll soon see, this is the only similarly legitimate position of authority from their ‘Summer’ collection. They’re all still great though, as is the Epic Reflexes’s album ‘ChaChaChinatown‘.
I had a lot of problems with ‘Everything is Love’, the surprising debut release from Beyonce and Jay-Z. Part of the reason I struggled with it was that I wasn’t sure how canonical it is. Like, is this it, Bee? Is this underwhelming collection of occasionally very entertaining rap boasts officially your actual follow-up to one of the most acclaimed albums of the 21st century? It’s an album about how two very rich people love each other but probably love their money more, that includes the line “My grandchildren’s grandchildren already rich” which, despite Kanye’s crisis of publicity, is by far the line from 2018 that Donald Trump is most likely to high five in a men’s locker room. Also, there’s a moment on the opening track where Mr Carter drawls out “Let it breaaaathe, let it breaaaathe” like JB Rockefeller basking in the glory of a fart he’d just released under the bedsheets, which marks the first time in more than two decades that I’ve thought to myself that I don’t think I really like Jay-Z. However, he often wins me back with the later claim that he’s “Good on any MLK boulevard”. This song’s pretty great though
Fucking hell, Jay, that haircut though… One hundred and thirty three more after the jump!
Next September, it’ll be ten years since Kanye West famously interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMA awards. Which award? Which Taylor Swift song/video/album won? Which work by Beyonce was Kanye so aggrieved didn’t win? Literally nobody knows. And yet I promise you that every person you mention the moment to will be able to do a pitch perfect Kanye West impression from the moment. It was a dumb moment at a dumb musical award that nobody (at least in this country) gives two shiny shits about, and yet that moment of Peak Megalolz was still honestly one of the biggest and most discussed cultural events of the 21st century. Such was (and still is) the cultural cache attached to Mr. West.
Damon Albarn and That Other One were obviously struggling for ideas for the band’s fourth (proper) album, evidenced by the seven years it took them to follow up 2010’s ‘Plastic Beach’ (an album I really loved for about four months then forgot all about), so were forced to instead crib inspiration from perhaps the most artistically provocative writers of their time.
(Do I need to say that it took seven years and then state further that ‘Plastic Beach’ was released in 2010? Seems like a waste of words. In fact, if you include this little parenthesised section here, the addition of the conformation of the year two thousand and ten has added an entirely unnecessary one hundred and nine words to this piece!! In retrospect, probably unnecessary. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s any way to remove or obliterate anything you’ve written- to ‘delete’ it, if you will- so it has to stay in. Let me know of any potential solutions in the comments. Should I write the whole entry again?)
The sixth album by Beyoncé is so obviously the best album of 2016 that it’s near offensive to posit the theory that any other could possibly be considered superior
‘Lemonade’ is legitimately one of the greatest records released in my… 29 years of age, of which maybe I was paying properly close attention for 13 (once you take away the times I was either too young or too drunk and suicidal). Both musically, artistically and due to wider cultural impact, few records can seriously compete with this immediate masterpiece
Last weekend I went with my brother to the cinema to see the Terminator 2 3D re-release, because the only movies I care about are the ones I liked when I was a teenager and can equate it to a time when life’s relentless, ghastly struggle hadn’t yet destroyed all the optimism and vague concepts of pleasure that once trickled through my young veins, and I reject any new movies because they implicitly suggest younger people are getting enjoyment that is no longer available to me