At this point pretty much every version of the year-end list has been done. "Best of the Booth Awards"? Done. Song hooks? Worst rappers? Done and done. Mega-podcasts? Done-y McDonesalot.
But especially because this was the year that I felt like I reclaimed my identity as a writer, and I very purposefully worked to make DJBooth a home for writing that wasn't afraid to be creative and personal and just generally backed the idea that writing, even on the internet, is an art, not just some words that happen to accompany a Buzzfeed list.
So I just couldn't close out 2014 without taking the time to highlight some of the writers who I really admired this year, people who made me go, "Fuck, I wish I had written that." And while this feels like the kind of disclaimer that belongs more on a "Best Rapper Alive" debate than a piece about writing, perhaphs fittingly, the internet has a way of dirtying all your best intentions.
So let me be clear. Despite the title, this isn't some sort of definitive, absolute "best" list. There's no awards, no trophies. There are so many other people doing awesome writing that I respect and admire everyday, this is just a small sampling of the pieces that really impacted me this year. In my dreams this becomes a catalyst for people to share their favorite writing and morphs into a celebration of the craft of writing. In my nightmare, I'll become embroiled in some journalist "beef," which is apparently a real thing that happens in 2014.
So here's to my dreams coming true. Writing is dope.
Alex Pappademas: Whether he's writing about Young Thug in the musical Cats, Wu-Tang's ruckus free reunion or how he sucks at football, Pappademas has one of the most original and creative writing voices around.
Shea Serrano: No one made me laugh more consistently than Shea this year:
"The very saddest thing of my whole life, the thing that erodes my bones from the inside out, is that I got to grow up with the geniuses Jodeci and Boyz II Men and Silk and Shai and so on. And my sons — my beautiful sons, my cherub-faced little bundles of perfect — have to grow up with Chris Brown and Trey Songz. I’d like to take Trey Songz and stuff him into a cannon, then take Chris Brown and stuff him into a separate cannon, and then I guess just leave them in there forever. I mean, I don’t want them dead. I just don’t want them to make any more music. It’s probably really hard to make new music from inside a cannon. Who knows? I don’t know." - R&B Hasn’t Been the Same Since 1994
Justin Tinsley: Remember when Tinsley wrote about Kendrick Lamar and "i" and mental health? That was awesome.
Sasha Frere-Jones: I don't know anyone who does more consistently excellent "let me break down in detail every note of this album" writing than Frere-Jones. For example, "The Perfect Beat."
Big Ghost: Everyone seems to only want him to make fun of Drake, which I won't front is hilarious, but he also does some dope, uber-creative shit that it seems like a lot of people who mostly tune in for the shit talking don't appreciated. For example, writing a screenplay of Rick Ross' life as a Mastermind review.
- "‘Twice Upon A Time…’ A Story About My Son" - David D.
- "The Front Lines of Ferguson" - Rembert Browne
- And, of course, holy sweet baby Jesus this Brian Phillips' piece on sumo wrestling (kind of) is fucking amazing.
I'm honored to have so many amazing writers contributing to DJBooth. In house, this year I was really proud of this piece on "Sing About Me" and my father-in-law's death, Lucas' Black Milk review was extraordinary, and Yoh's piece on internet immortality made me want to hire him.
A lot of words that get written on the internet are terrible, but a lot of them are incredible, and I'm genuinely grateful that I get to spend my life reading dope stuff and (hopefully) writing dope stuff. If you read some dope stuff this year, you should definitely share it below. Being literate is the best.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks in podcast form and appears on RevoltTV. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]