Sunday, January 04, 2004

BEST ALBUMS AND SINGLES OF 2003

It's time again to compile the Pazz and Jop Poll for 2003 that the Village Voice puts out annually. These lists never feel complete to me but if you're gonna force me to choose... Here's my top 10 singles of the year - it's not exactly in order of preference though the first three-four selections would definitely have to be at the top o' my list.

1. Beyonce - "Crazy In Love" - Columbia
2. Andre 3000 - "Hey Ya" - Arista
3. Neptunes - "Frontin'" - Star Trak
These three above embody everything in a pop song that I love and long for. 10 years from now, you'll hear this in a club or on the radio and you'll wish it was 2003 again. Promise.

4. 50 Cent - "In Da Club" - Shady/Aftermath
More infectious than SARS and one of the first signs that American pop production is taking a page from Jamaican riddims by putting a zillion differnt artists over the same beat.

5. Killer Mike - "A.D.I.D.A.S." - Epic
A sex song that doesn't make you feel like you need a hot shower (or cold one for that matter) after listening to it. Besides, the track couldn't be more tailored to get your ass moving if it was a cattle prod.

6. LA Carnival - "Blind Man remix" - Stonesthrow
This song is incredible - makes you wonder why all soul from the '60s couldn't have sounded this good.

7. Mark Ronson - "On the Run" - Elektra
Lemme see - Mos Def and MOP on the same track together, over a beat that rocks harder than Aerosmith on a coke binge? It's like the birthday gift you weren't even expecting.

8. Young Gunz - "Can't Stop, Won't Stop" - Roc-A-Fella
The track is so deceptively simple that it sort of catches you off guard at first but you can't but help to move to its blips, bumps and burps.

9. Antibalas - "Che Che Cole Makossa" - Daptone
If you can't feel this Afrobeat meets Afro-Cuban monster of a club cut - you just can't feel. My man Jeff Chang gives you the full story behind this song - a must read.

10. Ghostface Killah - "Run" - Def Jam
Tony for President in 2004. Word.


In terms of albums, here's what I gave Pazz and Jop officially:

1. Rufus Wainwright - Want One - Dreamworks
This might seem like an odd choice coming from me but there was no album that I enjoyed nearly as much as this one. I've taken it up and down with me from S.F. to L.A. at least three times this fall and winter and I never seem to get tired listening to it, singing along, cranking up the volume, etc. Yeah, it's that good.

2. Andre 3000 - The Love Below - Arista
I don't mean to disrepsect Big Boi - really, I don't - but after spending time with this album, I just never feel like getting around to peeping Speakerboxxx. Andre makes the hip-hop-that-is-not-hip-hop album for the ages.

3. Lyrics Born - Later That Day - Quannum Projects (15 points)
If all hip-hop was this creatively inspired and beautifully executed, I wouldn't go around muttering about how underground hip-hop is the embarassing disaster it is today.

4. Jay-Z - The Black Album - Roc-A-Fella (10 points)
Not the best of his career but not the worst either. Jay-Z ends his days as a rapper (yeah, right) with his most personal effort to date.

5. 50 Cent - Get Rich or Die Tryin - Shady/Aftermath (5 points)
Not just the biggest debut of the year - 50 Cent has potentially rewritten hip-hop for this not-so-young-anymore decade. Hip-hop loves 50 like a fat kid loves cake.

6. Styles of Beyond - Megadef - Spytech (5 points)
It's a swift kick to the head, followed by a baseball bat to the knee caps. And that's a good thing.

I didn't include this in my poll submission but it deserves an honorable mention:

7. Lifesavas: Spirit in Stone (Quannum)
See what I said about Lyrics Born's album above. Quannum had a banner year in 2003 - looks like an indie label can thrive after all, thank god.

In the meantime, my man Sasha Frere-Jones has completed his Best of 2003 list. #1 single? "Crazy In Love" by Beyonce - can't argue with that. Sasha's so gangsta that he's already begun composing his Best of 2004 list. Also, Ian Steaman of Different Kitchen has his Best of 2003 lists up on his blog - worth perusing too.