Monday, January 20, 2014

Top 10 Albums of 2013

2013 retrospective continues!

Yeah! When was the last time I put out a top albums list?

2008, lol

Ugh... Well, I sorta made up for it by doing my top 15 of every year since 2003. But it didn't have writeups.

Hey, your 2008 and 2007 (and I think 2006 and 2005 but those aren't on the blog and are maybe lost forever) lists are top 50, but this is just top 10!

Ugh... Well, when I was looking back for that 2008 list, I saw a "best of 2009" list where I did about half of the writeups, and a 2010 list that was going to be top 100, but I had given up on #73. lol. I think I needed a sanity check on this stuff.

First honorable mentions

There was a ton of really amazing hip hop albums this year... stuff like KOOL A.D.'s 19, 63, PEACEFUL SOLUTIONS and NOT O.K. all have great tracks that got tons of play and they all barely missed the list. Juicy J's Stay Trippy, Hot Sugar's Made Man EP, Flatbush Zombies' BetterOffDEAD, Big Baby Gandhi's Debut, Tyler the Creator's Wolf, Pusha T's My Name is My Name, A$AP Rocky's Long.Live.A$AP, Mac Miller's Watching Movies with the Sound Off, Steel Tipped Dove's And A Whole Bunch of Crazy Motherfuckers mixtapes, Migos's Young Rich Niggas, Bill Ding's JAWN DOUGH, Drake's Nothing Was the Same A$AP Ferg's Trap Lord, Major Lazer's Free the Universe... so much fantastic hip hop this year. Of course, Lil B's PYT Pretty Young Thug, Pink Flame and the almost 2-hour 100% Percent Gutta are all classics, but were out shadowed by... well, you know. All these albums had some tracks I would bump for weeks, but lacked the consistency to make this list.

This year saw three long-dormant and much expected artists release incredibly solid albums - however, Boards of Canada's Tomorrow's Harvest and My Bloody Valentine's mbv, after the initial excitement, just weren't what I was feeling this year. I feel like I'll return to these albums in the context of wanting to reimmerse myself with their discography in more general, and enjoy them more then. I'm really trying to focus on albums that I really enjoy now, not ones that I feel like eventually I'll like or that I ought to like. Same goes for Death Grips' Government Plates and Everything is Made in China's Amber - these are great albums, and I love the artists, but I just wasn't feeling them. I feel like I'm really missing out on Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires of the City, what with it winning p4k and all, and I liked their self-titled a lot... but after I listened to it, the only song I wanted to hear again was "Step". I think I should have liked Deafheaven's Sunbather but I couldn't get into it, same with Oneohtrix Point Never's R Plus Seven... maybe later.

This section is getting pretty long... maybe you should have made this list longer

Yeah and there was a ton more I wanted to mention... But nah, the longer the list, the less likely it'll be done before June, or at all. And if someone is reading this, it means the truncation was worth it. Anyways let's go.

10. Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels

So last year El-P produced Killer Mike's excellent R.A.P. Music and now they're back with a full-on, both-rapping collaboration. It's so good it seems like it makes sense but I think it's worth taking a step back and considering just how crazy this situation this is. Killer Mike, Dungeon Family OG and southern fried rap god, teaming up with Def Jux founder and backpacker favorite Brooklyn native El Producto. Huh? I think what's craziest is how weird it doesn't sound. These guys find a ton of common ground. El-P's grimy, noisy beats suit the dirty south as well as they do NYC back streets. Both rappers have the same enemies, delivering beatdowns on government control that makes conspiracy theories seem badass, for the first time since my early teens, maybe. They relish in the same excesses, too, having fun with constantly one-upping each other in brutal and hedonistic boasts. It's often hilarious and occasionally manages to shock, even this far into our odd future. That isn't to say there isn't also a solid heart to all this madness - every song is thematically bound and centralized around some legitimately compelling imagery and storytelling.

But what really made this stand out over all the other fantastic hip hop this year is the sheer rapping talent on display. Even if you listen to a capellas and cannot speak English, this is an exciting album on the flow alone. El-P's machine gun triplets on the titular opener, Killer Mike's clubby delirium on "No Come Down", their tight trading on the climax of "Sea Legs"... every track has a collection of stellar moments. Every single line oozes with both raw emotion and technical mastery.

9. Yung Lean - Unknown Death 2002

Here we get basically the exact opposite hip hop album. Probably there will be some people annoyed at the ordering of these two. Instead of two scene-recognized veterans, we get a squad of Scandinavian teenagers. Instead of every line being pushed to the limit with emotion and significance, we get bizarre nonsequitors delivered with an apathetic, barely-awake flow. It, uh, might not sound too great on paper, but this is something really unique and beautiful.

The production jumps on the "so hip it might not exist" vaporwave bandwagon from last year, marrying it's spaced out 80s aesthetic with simple beats that give it the perfect amount of momentum. The rapping and singing receives the same level of production attention. The whole album has a level of aesthetic unity through production that I think is basically unmatched. Beyond consistent, this album is hypnotic. You get so lured into the pan-pacific, retro-future-hauntological, drug-fueled sadbliss that you sometimes miss just how ridiculous the actual subject matter is. I think people engage with this album sort of like they do with a good internet site, like, people sort of "explore" it and find individual elements fascinating or funny. This sort of individually directed exploration is really cool, and the provided subject matter - a bizarre threesome of 90s nostalgia, high tier drug culture, and overwhelming sadness - is endlessly appealing.

8. Arcade Fire - Reflektor

Original Live Review
Once the undeniable kings of the vibrant Canadian indie rock scenes (excepting maybe the elder gods of Broken Social Scene), Arcade Fire's continued relevance in this new, very different decade, is a testament to the musicianship that was apparent from day one. If you asked me in 2004 if the band that made "Neighborhood 1" would someday make a song like "Reflektor", I'd have said no, but only because I wouldn't think they'd want to. Now, a decade into their career, where many bands settle into album cycles that please devout fans but rarely surprise, Arcade Fire makes... a beat-driven dance album with Central American rock aesthetics. Okaaay. It makes a bit more sense when you think about what the band's been up to, what genres are currently seeing the most innovation, and, most importantly, that James Murphy was involved, but this is still... pretty surprising.

It's a great surprise, though. The opening track's infectious rhythms and sense of escalation sets up a standard of energy that the album (somewhat miraculously) keeps up for two discs. There's a great variety, between the sweet grooves of "Here Comes the Night Time", the jaunty rock of "Normal People", the deep funk of "It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)"... they even break out the classic indie rock hymnal styles in a new flavor in "Supersymmetry". Sure, sometimes the lyrics are so cringeworthy I want to relinquish all understanding of the English language, but it's better than uninteresting. And can I again please just put as much emphasis as I can on just how wonderfully grand the whole album is?

7. Earl Sweatshirt - Doris

Original Live Review
I had a sort of "breakthrough" with this album a few weeks after I first heard it. I was going through the lyrics on Rapgenius or something and I decided I would just sit there and read along for the entirety of the album. I already knew that it had great lyrics, in fact, I think I already had heard and processed every line of the album before. But I hadn't really sat down and actually looked and thought about the words and what they meant as I heard them. It was really profound. Earl's flow is almost too good at times, like, it's almost too hypnotic. A friend of mine said once that although he likes him, he finds Earl sorta forgettable and that most of the time all he can think is "yup, he's rapping". Earl has become so synonymous with amazing flow that it's expected to the point of unsurprising. But no, take a step back and break down what he's actually saying on some of these lines: ...okay I just spent like 10 minutes trying to find a good line, but they're ALL so good, and they all depend on each other so solidly... just look yourself. It's worth it.

Basically you take this guy in a very interesting and unique social position re: fame, family, friends, race, relationships, drugs, etc and he comes up with what is essentially very slick free form poetry on these subjects, among others, and delivers it flawlessly alongside extremely varied but consistently haunting beats. There's funny moments, sad moments, triumphant moments, and bleak moments. It's everything I could want from an Earl Sweatshirt album and at the same time promises so much more from the rest of his career. Holy crap he is such a good rapper.

6. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Original Live Review
A friend of mine, a big Daft Punk fan, got me more hyped up for this album than pretty much anything else this year, which is saying a lot. He's also tried to get me hyped up for a possible new Daft Punk album like every year for the last 5 years. This has been a long time coming. I didn't believe it even a little until the SNL ad. I didn't even really believe it then, not until "Get Lucky". And even then... I had my doubts... I doubted all the way up until the album had actually played all the way through and I confirmed that yes it was all Daft Punk (in contrast to my copy of Discovery, which, for some reason, was pressed with gospel music on it by mistake). At that point, beyond believing, I was blown away.

Another friend of mine, much less hyped, made the comment that a lot of the stuff on here had been done before, and in a much rawer, more authentic form. This is valid. Daft Punk's interstellar tour through jazz, funk, pop, disco, rock, lounge, etc, might come off as corny just for the sheer number of stops it makes, and it undoubtedly coats all these genres with the sleekest chrome electronic sheen, but to me that's the whole appeal. This unifying slickness allows one album to have both the super-pop "Instant Crush" and the deep electro "Motherboard", or maybe the fact that "Fragments of Time" actually seems to cross some impossible chronological bounds, or maybe multi-genre epics like "Touch" or "Giorgio by Moroder", the latter of which starts with a little interview on the history of electronic music and ends with electric guitars and turntables. "Touch" is even crazier, sounding like the score to some Henson/Daft Punk crossover feature, with breakdowns that sound like a parade through paradise. "Contact", the finale, is like a big shiny spaceship burning up in the atmosphere, an exercise in sheer limit-pushing. It's all so ridiculously superlative that if they broke the sincerity of it for even a second, it would all fall apart. This goes for the listener, too, cynicism has to be put on hold for an hour or so if you want the full effect here. But it's worth it, 'cause man this album is just loaded with wonderful, exciting, catchy moments.My absolute favorite is when the robot voices come in on "Get Lucky" and "Lose Yourself to Dance"; that's what I was waiting year after year for, those robot voices.

5. Danny Brown - Old

Original Live Review
Danny Brown is like a perfect storm of a musician... his tastes, his enthusiasm, his unique circumstances and thoughts, he's got all these brilliant ideas colliding in an unstable system. And yet, his albums aren't a mere encapsulation of the energy that's inevitably released in such a reaction - even though that would probably be really compelling and great, too - they're very deliberately structured and meticulously perfected experiences. It's like if all this reactive fuel was allowed to explode only in the cylinders of a very tuned and powerful engine. It's in this regard more than any that Old improves on XXX: the sense of development, both sonically and thematically, across the album is super compelling. His focus is tighter, too: he has the confidence to be more varied without needing to do any sort of check-box filling exercises that needlessly pad out a lot of hip hop albums.

I think that confidence is super key, it's a sort of energy I'm going to talk about later in this list. In an interview he said that his album was only second to Yeezus in 2013 rap. That's the sort of thing I like to hear. And oh man does he back it up: every track on this album is addictive. There isn't one that doesn't have some sweet new production trick, some memorable lines... this is one of those rare hip hop full length albums that feels almost sacrilegious if you skip tracks, and yet you want to repeat every song as soon as it finishes. And oh man the emotional power here... I've made this point a lot before, but Danny's ability to do so many modes of rap - storytelling, bragging, drug-rap, stream of consciousness - in so many styles - hyperbolic, bleak, realistic - in so many emotional zones - funny, sad, angry, tired... he can handle any combination of these, often switching between them verse to verse, all with a crazy high standard of flow and originality, and every one of them not only sounds good, but sounds completely genuine and sincere. It's really amazing, I can't think of many rappers that can even come close to such a feat.

4. Sigur Rós - Kveikur

I've had a strange sort of relationship with Sigur Ros over the years. Ágætis byrjun has been one of my favorite albums ever since I first heard it (like almost 10 years ago, wow), and I really enjoyed all their followups, but it seemed like they were moving further from what made Ágætis byrjun so revolutionary for me in the first place. Meo Suo... was great exciting fun, Valtari was calm and meditative, but, I dunno... it just wasn't what I was expecting. In fact, it got to be that I really couldn't expect anything from Sigur Ros anymore, which sounds very negative... I mean, I still expected to really enjoy their albums, but I couldn't really expect the definitive "Sigur Ros sound", because that had really been dissolved. Plus, having now gotten into much more post rock, stuff like world's end girlfriend, Matryoshka, Everything is Made in China, etc... what niche was Sigur Ros really left to fill?

So, I was a bit late to the party on this one, and I sort of approached it with some resignation, feeling pretty sure that it wouldn't be quite what I was hoping for, deep down, and not even really sure what that was anymore. Then I heard the first track: there's this scraping sound, right at the start, and soon after, Jonsi's voice comes in, and it hit me. That's what I was looking for. This sort of dark, looming sound, contrasted by Jonsi's high and pure vocals... There's a certain deep, mysterious aesthetic that I saw first on the album art of Ágætis byrjun, that haunts me forever from the music video for Untitled 1, that has finally been reborn here. It's a feeling of deep glacial waters, of gigantic whales stirring slightly from ancient sleep... it's the sort of feeling that makes you write ridiculously imagery just to try to get a chance to express all the emotions it gets burning in you.

It'll be awhile before I can seriously compare this to Ágætis byrjun or ( ) or whatever... ranking new things with old favorites is always a long and difficult process. Kveikur strikes me as a very refined, modern album, the sort of thing a band can only make after over a decade of becoming comfortable but not contented with their sound. Many of the tracks are much shorter than I feel like they would have been on one of their previous albums - there's nothing over 8 minutes, even! There's no sense of indulgence here, every movement is bold and decisive, there's no sense of trying to "have it and eat it" with melodies and climaxes. The emotional range is broad and everything is pushed to an extreme. They feel like absolute masters at this sort of genre (because they are), and they're willing to display their mastery. It's wonderful.

3. Atoms for Peace - Amok

Original Live Review
This is a tricky one... It's kinda Radiohead, so it should get #1, right? But then it's also not really quite Radiohead, so maybe it shouldn't get #1... Hmmm.... Seriously though, this is a phenomenal album. I don't really get why it wasn't so well received. I guess this sort of music isn't for everyone. It's a very loop-heavy album, where often the only really forward-moving element is Thom's voice, which, too, is very polarizing. It's very dense and layered, and every layer is scattered, chaotic, and complex. It has the sort of construction of the sort of hip hop beats I like best, where many simple elements are combined in a novel way, except here none of the elements are simple. I can see how it would give some people a headache, maybe.

Oh but for me this is like the most ideal thing I've ever heard of. This album is dripping with things I like in music. In electronic music, there's a lot of really little things I look for and cling onto heavily. Tiny things like particular sounds or rhythms. This album has like, tons of them. On every track. And with drumming, it's the same - there's certain tones or patterns I especially like for as far as I can tell no rational reason, and I'd never think that there was an underlying uniting element to all of these things, except that all the drums on this album are exactly the sort of drums I like. That's gotta be more than a coincidence. The only time this album wasn't delivering on basically my musical fetishes is when it was coming up with stuff I'd never even thought about wanting before.

Really I think where this album breaks new ground in ways I find exciting is the way they play with long and short sounds... there's a real emphasis of both rapid-fire drums and smooth, swelling chords. First they have some fun just playing off the beautiful rhythmic magic that emerges from these sort of juxtapositions, but then they stretch out drums and chop up synths and it's like, everything is the same thing. There's all these really diverse elements, but it's an album of unity, not contrasts. That's cool. Omnipresent is Thom's vocals, which I really can't write anywhere near objectively about. I love his lyrics, I love the sound of his voice, I am basically in love with the man himself as far as I can tell.

So yeah this is an album where they set up a real "environment" of beats and chords on each track and then let several progressive instruments + the vocal track like "explore" it... if that makes sense. It's loaded up with weird tonal that I personally love and stuff I don't think has been done before and a really great aesthetic variety and haunting lyrical themes... I really hope I'm getting across how much I like this album in a semi-coherent way. I find it hard to talk about how much I like Radiohead/Thom Yorke/etc because in my mind it feels very objectively good, like, when I hear it it really feels like I'm listening to music on the forefront of creativity and mastery in the same way that you'd fairly easily recognize the mastery and creativity of the world champion at some game... and, like that world champion, you feel like it is possible to convince the world that indeed, this is the best, but it's very difficult to articulate... Still, the dream is there, the dream for me that you, too, can listen to the part of "Ingenue" where he says "and you know it, fools rushing in" with that icy back beat... or the part of "Stuck Together Pieces" where that bass line comes in... or the last section of the title track, probably my favorite part of all... and think, yeah, wow, that's like, the best thing I've ever heard. I don't know if I honestly believe this to be true, but I can't help think it when I hear this music.

2. Kanye West - Yeezus
This is like the third time I've written about Kanye this year on my blog and I feel like I'm going to say most of the same things again but I still really want to say them. Even though I just want to talk about this album and how much I love it and how great I think it is, I feel like I won't be able to resist the temptation to talk about Kanye more generally as an artist, a public figure, a human being, etc. So let's just get it over with quick.

I saw Kanye in concert back in December... if I continue not being 100% lazy I think I'll do a more detailed write up of it in a bit... anyways, it was phenomenal. Really briefly: he had like two hours of performing in various masks, doing more of his critically acclaimed, sometimes darker, stuff. Then, during a breakdown on "Runaway", he talked to the audience for like 20 minutes, just speaking about his philosophy, and how he felt he'd been treated in the last year, and stuff like that. It was inspirational, insightful... I totally agreed with everything. Then a guy dressed like Jesus came out and blessed him, and he took off his mask and did "Jesus Walks", followed by all his most popular songs like back to back to back to etc. It was absolutely crazy. It was the feeling of a man who can do anything he wants and chooses to do everything he wants. It was especially wonderful because you could tell that, beyond just wanting to please 100% of his fans, he was genuinely excited just to show off how much he loved his whole catalog.

Yeezus is not like that. I think the first thing Kanye realized about this album is that it might be better to make an album that is something really beloved by some of your fans rather than something that is liked by all of your fans. It's actually a really controversial but meaningful strategy, but, if you're lucky enough to be in the camp that loves it - evidently I am - then it's purely a win for you. At first I was kinda surprised when people said they didn't like this album... like, some parts of it are so obviously brilliant, memorable, emotional to me that I figure it must be universal. And I still believe that, but when I hear people complain that the album is too abrasive, too relentless, too tiring, that seems fair, too. And even though it's obvious that Kanye never compromises once on this album to broaden the audience, the sense you get even more is that he believed that everyone should and would work through the parts they found challenging or confusing and eventually come to love the album. That's the sort of thing that people might paint as arrogance, sure, but like... only through that philosophy could he have made an album this whole of idea and execution, this honed, this sharp... like, he knew better than anyone how offputting sheer electronic screeches or stuttered screams would be to the average listener, but he also knew better than anyone just how amazing they'd sound after proper appreciation.

I'm getting a bit indulgent here. I think there's a whole faction of people so frustrated with the praise of this album that they don't want to hear another word of it, and the rest probably know pretty well why they and I like it and don't really need to hear any more, but I really just have to get down as best I can my praise for this album. It's been all things to me at all times in this last year. I've listened to it when I've wanted to get pumped up for something, I've listened to it when I've been angsty and want to feel even worse. I've listened to it when I'm happy and triumphant, I've listened to it when I'm calm and sad. It's been the guilty pleasure I turn to when I just want something fun and it's been my choice when I want something I can really focus on and think about.

At the same time, I'm not gonna say it has everything. It has a lot of things, but nothing that it doesn't need. There's no feeling of obligatory trips into styles or emotional zones simply for completionism. It's a very focused attack. People have said the lyrical work is "weak", hell, I think even I said that, and there's some pretty true-seeming stuff about him writing most of the lyrics in a day, but there's still as many chilling and memorable lines any other great rap album... he just doesn't bother with the filler. Like, the big secret is that it really doesn't matter what he's saying 90% of the time, if he's saying it right. It occurs to me now that before, when I hated on Kanye's lyricism, I was engaging in it too much already, like, in the act of trying to articulate what was wrong with it, I had already missed the point, and ruined my chance of enjoying it. This is a hard concept to put into words, I'm sorry, and I probably look like a gigantic Kanye dickrider right now, saying that his lyrics transcend the good/bad dichotomy, existing in some more ideal platonic form of "lyrics" than their actual English language meanings... or something... the easiest way to understand is to go to one of his concerts and hear the entire crowd scream "hurry up with my damn croissants", and realize that, wow, it was him that made us say that. He could have made us say anything he wanted but he made us say that. "No one man should have all that power" etc.

But the real star is of course the production, which is so unlike anything I've ever heard before that I feel like trying to construct it in words is insulting no matter how I do it. For me, the most exciting part is his sudden interest in and immediate subsequent mastery of two things I really like in music but never really expected to see in Kanye: split vocal rhythms and harsh noise. I don't really want to get too into this sort of detail... I just think his use of sampling a vocal part and then stuttering it, or adding a really large abrasive-type sound where, on paper, it would never seem appropriate is really cool, but really, the point is more that every person who likes this album would probably pick out something different for what made the production great for them. There's just so much going on all the time, so many novel combinations. It's what made this album, the one I've undoubtedly heard more than any other in this last year, so fresh and exciting to listen to even now. Every single song has at least one element or section that I anticipate and yet underestimate every single time I hear it. That's amazing.

Beyond all this, though, this album resonates with me on a really philosophical level. Not the themes of the album - those are super compelling, but sorta beyond the scope of what I want to talk about atm - but the philosophy underlying the existence of the album in the first place. This album signifies the sheer artistry of creation better than almost anything I've ever heard. Think about moments like the end of "New Slaves" or the horns on "Blood on the Leaves"... there, I think, the mark of a truly creative person is most obvious. For all the negativity on the album, the process of creating it is undoubtedly a positive act. The process of taking these emotions, these desires, these problems, and making an album out of them, to realize these goals through an act of creation... there's only one word for it. It's not a word I thought of on my own, because it isn't quite in its usual context. It was actually my friend who I went to the concert with that pointed it out, during Kanye's philosophical rantings during "Runaway". "This is really based." he said.

1. Lil B - 05 Fuck Em

So Kanye is basically... Based Jesus. Yes. I think that is appropriate. But there is a higher power. Welcome to The Based God's Layer. Welcome to 05 Fuck Em.

Does this feel like a cop-out? Do you feel like I am sabotaging the legitimacy of this list with a "joke"? Do you think it's wrong to give credence to ironic enjoyment over legitimate appreciation? Do you think acknowledgement of these issues doesn't suffice?

If so, you're wrong about everything. This is legitimately my favourite release of this year and the one that impressed me most. There is no irony involved. I'll say it again in all caps: THIS IS LEGITIMATELY MY FAVOURITE RELEASE OF THIS YEAR AND THE ONE THAT IMPRESSED ME MOST. There's nothing it could be besides number one.

First, let's established a bit of a legitimate hierarchy here: Kanye's said in a few interviews about Tyler, the Creator's influence on him, especially in the very based areas of self-expression and positive creativity. Tyler is, of course, Task Force certified at the highest level. It really seems like Kanye is receiving Based Energy from the source itself, the Based God.

But what is Based Energy? It's like, the sort of hype you get from listening to some music, a sort of overwhelming fun positivity that just makes you want to do all sorts of creative things. It results from music where you can appreciate it almost completely without much intellectual effort. Not that it's easy to appreciate for everyone all the time, you have to be in a Based state of mind...

I think this would be easier to explain if I just described the first time I felt I really "got" Lil B. It was the first time I was scanning manga, Oyasumi Punpun volume 7. It was before I had established good techniques to reduce tediousness and time... like, uhh, moving the scanner nearer to my chair. I finished at like 4AM or something, I was tired but triumphant. At the time I had been listening to some Lil B but it was more just a novelty. I thought his production was great, his lyrics funny, etc, but I didn't really feel it. But after that long night of scanning, I listened to "I'm God", and it just like, hit me.

Lil B is all about producing a singularity of effect. His lyrical work isn't made to challenge you, although it can surprise and delight. There's a quote by Chekov where he talks about the effect of simplicity in writing. He says "good writing should be grasped at once - in a second". Lil B's lyrics make all other lyrics seem pretentious and overwrought. What I said for Kanye's croissants line is even more true here. For Lil B to put in any extraneous effort into cleverness or technique would be doing a disservice to the actual appeal of the music, it would complicate it by making it appear to compete in too many metrics. It would dilute the truth of his statements. Saying anything in terms any more complicated than he needs to would imply that his phrases required some sort of argument. The end result is that Lil B's lyrics end up having way more impact than almost any other rapper and his production can be more varied and dynamic than most other rappers because his flow works on every conceivable beat.

None of this would matter if the message wasn't great, but Lil B is beyond that - he's based. He's able to say hilarious things, be irreverent, reference esoteric things, and he never feels pretentious or tryhard... he can talk about the streets, about struggling, and it feels real... he can be poetic and philosophical, and it's genuinely inspiring. Lil B has one of the most complete intellectual stances of any artist, and every line reflects it. This is the fundamental idea behind Based Music, this underlying philosophy of creative positiveness. It's infectious.

So basically Lil B makes fun, catchy music with a lot of heart. His lyrics don't attempt to convince you with cleverness and they're made all the more powerful for it. So what about 05 Fuck Em specifically? Well, in a typical album review, I think people look at what they figure was like the "average" experience of listening to the album, like, praising it for the good parts and dismissing the bad parts. That's generally how I think of album experiences, too, like, I can certainly appreciate an album with some songs I like and some I don't, or rather, I'm fine with just skipping the songs I don't like, but if I'm appraising the album in general, my opinion of it would lower because of those tracks.

Well, with Lil B mixtapes, it's a bit different. Although there's certainly some tracks I like more than others, I wouldn't think of skipping any of the tracks here. If you're in the mood for Lil B music, despite the great variety of his subject matter, production, delivery, etc, you're generally in the mood for all of it - at least I am. So the quality of the album is actually more cumulative than averaging. From there it's simple mathematics. 101 songs,  5 hours and 45 minutes, all of them with a God's Father level of quality, in all of his classic styles (noisy grindy beats, triumphant bangers, soul sample street songs, bouncy party anthems, et al) and a bunch of new ones too. I'm working on a separate review of just this, hopefully I can talk more in depth about how great this all is.

Listening to Lil B music has been one of the most fun forms of musical engagement for me over the last few years. With 05 Fuck Em, he's produced his biggest masterpiece yet. The next step is the (going platinum!) debut album.

Wow you actually finished and posted a top albums list

Yaaaay. Next is top songs, or manga roundup, or something, I dunno. I'm writing a lot of fiction lately but I dunno if I want to put that up here, seems embarrassing.

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