Is New Amerykah Pt. 1 The 'Token Urban Album' Of '08?
Speaking of Erykah Badu: Much like we're doing in this upcoming week's paper, Stereogum today asked some of its favorite artists of '08 to name some of their favorite artists, albums, songs, etc. of 2008, and right at the top of the list, Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes names New Amerykah Pt. 1 as one of his tops in the year that was.
Yep, that's yet another namedrop for Badu, who's having herself a fine end-of-year when it comes to being on lists and whatnot.
But down in the comments of that thread, there's an interesting little note about that choice--and the choices of a few other artists' picks. Is picking Badu (who, total sidenote, will co-star alongside Mos Def in the movie Bobby Zero, which is set to start filming in April) or Lil Wayne or T.I. or, well, any hip-hop artist for that matter, for year-end list inclusion some sort of "hipster affirmative action" as one commenter puts it?
Still, it is an interesting idea to think about.
And it's not a matter of race, so much as it is genre, I don't think. When people (even pseudo-people, like music critics) are putting together their year-end lists, what are they thinking, right before they submit them? "Oh, crap! I listened to a LOT of hip-hop this year, right? What was my favorite? Probably the new T.I. So I gotta put that ahead of Fleet Foxes's disc." That's a very likely scenario, no?
It works both ways, though. For instance, I can't tell you how many rappers I've seen namedrop (spoiler alert for next week's paper!) Coldplay's so-so 2008 release as one of their favorites of the year.
I guess it all begs the question: How much of all this year-end list-making stuff is a matter of picking what you liked the most? And how much of it is picking what you consider to be the best of all the music that's been put out there in the past year? (It's a similar, but very different question.) And, let's say a rapper does drop a (spoiler alert!) Coldplay into a list among artists like Rick Ross and Plies and Kanye West and Young Jeezy. How much of said placement is a matter of "See? I do listen to more than just hip-hop music!"? Tough to say.
I dont think there's a definitive answer here, as everyone surely approaches making these lists in his/her own way. But it's some interesting food for thought, I think.
/end rant. --Pete Freedman