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On Writing Those Gotdamn End Of The Year “Best Of The Year” Lists

(The Champ’s latest at Complex on the process of writing those “best of the year” listicles you’re going to see on every website in the next few weeks)

The list was due Friday. He was only getting $150 for it. So he didn’t want to spend more than two hours doing it. If he broke it down that way, it meant he was working for $75 an hour. And, if he was working for $75 an hour, he could justify spending $100,000 for his MFA just to spend afternoons writing up top 10 lists in his bedroom. Or bus station Au Bon Pains. Well, spiritually justify. Not intellectually. Or, sadly, romantically. He had a PornHub account. A paid PornHub account. His professors would be proud.

He blocked two hours out of his busy Thursday schedule to write the piece. He liked calling what he did “pieces.” Sounded important. Distinguished. Much better than gotdamn motherfucking “listicles.” Just typing that word made his fingers feel like lice.

He had a game plan. Include four or five major label releases. Two or three more obscure releases. And a couple wildcards to show how irreverent and cool he was. Maybe he’d put Eve’s Lip Lock on the list. He’d hadn’t even listened to it. Shit, he didn’t even know Eve released an album this year until he was on Wikipedia. On Stevie J’s page. But he had decided. It was going to be the “7th best rap album of 2013.” He’d put it right between J. Cole‘s Born Sinner (6th) and Earl Sweatshirt‘s Doris (8th). Maybe Eve herself would retweet the link the piece. Probably not. But still. It’s good to dream. Is Eve even on Twitter? He didn’t know.

Kanye West‘s Yeezus, of course, would be first. He wasn’t smart enough to “get” Kanye’s genius. Or maybe he just knew Kanye was full of shit. Either way, he was smart enough to know that praising Yeezus would make everyone think he was smart. And he did actually like “Black Skinhead.” During that week in July when he worked out for two days, he’d listen to “Black Skinhead” on the elliptical. It made him feel like Tarzan. He needed to go back to the gym. He liked saying that he “needed to go back to the gym” to people.

He’d put Danny Brown‘s Old second. He wanted to like Danny Brown more than he actually liked him. But he did like him. He was also scared of him. Kinda mirrored his feelings about guacamole.

The write-ups were smooth. Easy. Quick. He had a system. Write an average of four sentences about each album. If you write more than four, be more serious. Say things like “deconstruct” and “narrative” and “intersectional” and “pussy.” If you write less than four, be more snarky.

Then, something happened. He was writing about Pusha T‘s My Name Is My Name. He listed it 5th. But it was his favorite album of the year. So much so that he even memorized a Big Sean verse for the first time. Which was easy. Because Big Sean verses are like gym class. In 2nd grade. At a charter school with no gym.

(Read the rest at Complex)

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • You know what I hate MORE than list pieces from my editor…Muther Fvckin’ Slideshows – Makes me want to use that Bruce Lee tactic and punch through my editor’s face.

  • Katherine McChesney

    Always filthy language on this website. The title of this article is blasphemous.

    • Anyanwu

      Are you not entertained?! Is this not why you are here?!

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