The Music I Listened to in 2018 (#50-25)

In 2018, I listened to over 1,700 different musicians (and +10k unique songs.) At that scale, this list of my top 50 artists only represents about 3% of the total that I heard. So what the hell are numbers worth, anyway? As much as you can learn from recorded statistics and quantification, some of the most essential things in life will still slip through, uncaptured. When it comes to music listening, that means: a Blues Traveler radio sing-along in my wife’s car; the walk-up music just before a home run at Nationals Park; hours of spinning A Charlie Brown Christmas on vinyl. Spotify doesn’t know about or remember any of those moments, but I do. Likewise, some of the best concert performances I saw this year – Florence & The Machine, Snarky Puppy, and the Wu-Tang Clan – were by artists who aren’t on my ‘most listened’ list, but who …

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on Language, and the Careful Appreciation of Rap Music

When I was 9 years old, a rapper named Calvin Broadus from Long Beach, California, released an album called “Doggystyle,” using the stage name Snoop Dogg. Somehow, through the pop-culture distribution channels of the early 1990’s, a cassette tape of that album made its way into the Walkmen of me and my third-grade friends. We tossed around Nerf footballs and drank juice from paper boxes on the carefully landscaped lawn of our shiny, brand new elementary school while Snoop chanted into our boombox, “for all my niggaz and my bitches and my bitches and my niggaz wave yo motha fuckin hands in the air, and if you don’t give a shit like we don’t give a shit, wave yo motha fuckin’ fingas in the air.” According to my parents, the first word I ever uttered was “moon.” There was something special about the way it sounded, I think – almost …

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