2017 has been a dumpster fire calendar year, from politics to scandal to the prescription drug epidemic, but here at DJBooth, there has been one constant source of inspiration and happiness—the music. Twenty-seventeen has been an incredible year for new music and for music writing, despite all of the cries on social media that both hip-hop and hip-hop journalism are dead and buried.
Before taking our Thanksgiving holiday break, I asked each of our staff members to share one thing from 2017 that they are most thankful for—or in Matt's case, 10 things, because he doesn't listen to direction. Below you will find our answers, but make sure to hit the comment section and let us know who or what you are most thankful for—music or otherwise.
As the editor-in-chief of DJBooth, I'm equally thankful for all of our amazing writers and contributors, as well as our incredible, loyal readers, who visit the site daily and interact with all of our original editorial and video content on social media. Thank you.
A New Music-Listening Buddy
Last week, my daughter, Zoey, turned one year old. Beyond the joy of becoming the father of a beautiful, healthy baby, I am most thankful for acquiring a truly open-minded music-listening buddy. Sure, my wife and I listen to music together and attend shows, but, by and large, she cannot stand most of my favorite artists—save for A Tribe Called Quest, who she likes listening to during a workout. From Anderson .Paak to Frank Ocean, milo to J.I.D and everything in between, the delight and elation on Zoey's face when we sit and listen to music together is what life is all about. Well, at least it's what my life is all about. No complaints. — Z
The Hip-Hop Spectrum
As frustrating as the constant debate is between young and old, "real hip-hop" and "mumble rap" (let's leave this term in 2017), the fact that the hip-hop universe is such a far-reaching, diverse collection of talents, sounds, styles, ages, orientations, memes, and Russ jokes is a beautiful thing. There is nothing I'm thankful for more than the ability to cycle through Playboi Carti, JAY-Z, Future, Frank Ocean, Roc Marciano, SahBabii, and Sampha with the chance to discuss and debate about all of them. Add to that the fact that streaming allows me instant access to basically every album ever recorded is nothing short of a miracle, one that allows me to go back and finally convince myself of the greatness that is It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back before doubling back to finish Smokepurrp's new album in the same hour. Fuck all the complaining, there's never been a better time to be a hip-hop fan. — Brendan
That One Moment at a Rap Concert
If joy, at its purest, had to be personified by a photograph, I would take a picture of the goofy grin people wear the moment their favorite song is being performed live in concert. It's a wide smile, the elation that predates the explosion of laughing, singing, dancing, and the occasional tear. I live for that look. I live for the collective merriment that washes over people like a unified wave of energy. I’ve left my home to see performers and to enjoy performances, but this year it was the fans who I found pleasure seeing in glee and ecstasy. The joy brought on by the joy of others. A happiness that forgets the trouble of the world, if only for a moment. This year I'm most thankful for rap concerts—all the hugs, daps, laughs, and music. Some of the best times of my 2017 have happened in a space that allows an escape from the world's ills, bringing people together, and allowing us all to say, without repercussions, "Fuck Donald Trump." It's been very therapeutic. — Yoh
Helping Others Through Writing
As obvious as it might sound, I’m most thankful for writing. If 2016 was the year of breaking down, 2017 was the year of rebuilding. There would have been zero growth if I weren’t able to write through and past my worst days. Even more important than having an outlet for myself, I’m thankful that my writing connects with readers and helps form a greater community within and outside of DJBooth. I try to live by a pay-it-forward mentality, and I’ve yet to find a better method than through writing. Bringing people together, and potentially helping someone through a struggle, because they happened upon my niche of being sad and never turning my speakers off is invaluable. — Donna
Frank Ocean Sticking Around
Between Blonde and Endless, Frank Ocean was the soul-cleansing soundtrack to my 2016. When 2017 rolled around, I was fully prepared for Frank to vanish again—to London, to China, to wherever those fat-as-fuck Blonde checks take him (provided there’s decent Wi-Fi for sporadic Tumblr updates). Only Frank decided to stick around this year. And I'm so glad he did. Over seven semi-regular—and regularly hysteria-inducing—episodes of his Beats 1 show, blonded RADIO, Frank blessed us with four amazing additions to his catalog: “Chanel,” a soaring anthem of duality; “Biking,” which previewed JAY-Z and Tyler, The Creator’s MVP performances this season; “Lens,” full of profound one-liners like, “This thing won’t last unless we’re both lying”; and “Provider,” arguably the best of the bunch (R.I.P. Stanley Kubrick). I can’t tell you how or when these were created, but they sure don’t sound like they were scooped up off Frank's cutting room floor. In fact, if “Chanel,” “Biking,” “Lens” and “Provider” were packaged as an EP, it’d be my favorite project of 2017. Make that two consecutive years soundtracked by Christopher Breaux. If we're taking his recent i-D essay as gospel (which I definitely am), I better prepare myself for the three-peat: “If you liked two thousand and seventeen then you’ll love two thousand and eighteen.” — Andy
Eminem Fans, Smino, Cardi B, and Not Getting Fired
In order to articulate all the wonderful moments have to be thankful for this year, I've decided to rank them: 10. Flume’s work with Vince Staples on “Yeah Right.” 9. Arguing with Eminem fans about the importance of his Recovery album. 8. Finding out that Yoh is a person with a face and body and not a computer pre-programmed to flawlessly write about hip-hop. 7. The first time I heard Smino’s blkswn—by accident. 6. When I wrote that J. Cole was the Jon Snow of hip-hop and it pissed off everyone. 5. Cardi B. 4. The time I had to transcribe a 2004 Rappers Sex Survey and figure out clever quips about what J. Hood and Big Gipp thought of their own penises. 3. The DJBooth Slack Chat. 2. The time Z almost fired me because I hadn't listened to DMX’s It's Dark and Hell Is Hot but then I made a bunch of jokes and didn't get fired. 1. The day Z emailed me and asked me to come aboard the DJBooth staff. — Matt
Two Generations of Hip-Hop Uniting
The old and the young seem predestined to forever yell at each other and rap has been no exception. Episodes of Everyday Struggle feel like rickety soapboxing at their worst; Pete Rock has fostered beef with Lil Yachty, Young Dolph and Waka Flocka; and some artists won’t even listen to music than pre-dates 2004. But I see olive branches that give me hope. I see DJ Premier and A$AP Ferg bonding over their love of New York. I see Killer Mike and Cuz Lightyear breaking bread over stories of their respective come ups. I see Marlon Craft working with Marco Polo, Conway and Prodigy rapping side by side on stage and Eminem signing Boogie to a record deal. And yes, I also see Pete Rock making music with Smoke DZA and Big K.R.I.T. This is the old and young talking and listening. This is the bridging of the gap. — Dylan
Kanye West's Extended Absence
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for Kanye West’s extended absence from the public eye. Aside from new music, there is no greater gift for a Kanye fan than a respite from the never-ending task of having to defend his behavior to the increasingly unsympathetic masses. It was a demand that was growing exponentially, as his antics became progressively more unhinged prior to his eventual hospitalization for exhaustion a year ago this month. Since his recovery, he’s remained silent in the media, appeared only sparingly in public, and notably deleted any trace of disheartening Trump support from his social media (before eventually deleting his social media altogether.) This latter point, as well as the recent news that he’s gone back to his production roots, leads me to speculate that this downtime has been incredibly productive for Kanye’s health and clarity. I can’t wait to see what he’s been working on during his dormancy. Something tells me that, whatever it is, it will help him regain his status as a universally revered icon, and absolve me from the responsibility of having to defend his legacy ever again. — Hershal
Gucci Mane & His Infinite Wisdom
During a year in which I’ve reached a fair share of personal lofty goals while also watching the outside world slip into disorder, Gucci Mane and his inextinguishable glow up have given me plenty of reason to be thankful. Not only has Gucci’s comeback story helped me to put things in perspective, but the motivational messages that come with his successes have been an incredible inspiration. Turning on tweet notifications for the Atlanta rapper’s daily motivational messages might be the most important move I’ve made all year; I can’t count how many times I’ve been rescued from a spell of sluggishness or self-doubt by a few characters of Guwop wisdom. Now that my copy of The Autobiography of Gucci Mane has finally come in the mail, I’m counting on the East Atlanta Santa to bring me into 2018 with the tools to face whatever obstacles come next. — Kenan