Friday, December 13, 2013

I Refuse to Edit My Final Set of Musical Superlatives

So Beyonce' dropped a megaton bomb on everybody's year-end lists overnight...
I really don't care.  Who drops an album AFTER the Grammy noms have gone out?!  Haven't heard it, so it won't change my promised final set of musical superlatives for 2013.

Most Unexpected
Ariana Grande
Who knew that she could sing, and actually sing well?  It’s clear that Mariah is one of her biggest influences.

Ones to Watch
Her tongue-twisting lyrics make the guys on the rap charts look like lethargic, pampered clowns. Crankin’ production, too.

Elli Ingram
Brit songstress who flipped rap hits from Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper into R&B masterpieces.  Her style feels improvisational,  jazz-influenced.  Hurry up with the LP.  

Izzy Bizu
British, soulful, and biracial (Ethiopian mom, English dad).  The stripped-down production of her EP was a good match for her delicate vocals.  The U.S. press and music industry will probably fall all over themselves for her.   

You’re Awesome, But Your Publicist Is Slacking
Jean Grae
Like Eminem and Andre 3000 had a baby.  She also had a memorable role in this year’s underrated hip-hop dramedy “Big Words.”

Natalia Kills
She’s a Brit on the Lady Gaga-Rihanna spectrum who’s toured with Pink.  Oh, the ferocity.

Best Traditional R&B Album
Tamar Braxton, Love and War
Tamar, thank your man for keeping you from fulfilling your ratchet ambitions.

R&B Innovation
Janelle Monae’, The Electric Lady
I am definitely not a Janelle stan--her often inscrutable lyrics and that android nonsense get an eyeroll--but Grammy voters must have been smoking Rob Ford’s pipe to overlook the flawless production and vocals on this project.

Bilal, A Love Surreal
Honestly, it’s been a while since I listened to it, but I remember that I appreciated his willingness to craft an experience that didn’t sound like anything else in modern R&B.
Hometown Heroes
The intelligent, insightful lyrics of his recent album put him on the short list of my favorite contemporary MC's. 
Thao With the Get Down Stay Down  
Love the singer's voice, and feel like their sound is perfect for a soundtrack to a Michelle Williams indie.
Nacey of Misun
Guitarist/producer Nacey crafted atmospheric Misun remixes with NYC DJ Cousin Cole.  It upped the band’s dancefloor cred (interesting use of ‘90s rap samples) and took Misun Wojcik’s ethereal vocals to another level.  Unfortunately for us, Misun just moved to L.A.

Honorable Mention: RAtheMC.  So real, so NE, so Brookland!  I just want her to hook up with better production.  Check out "The Grace Jones Experiment."

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