Friday, June 24, 2022
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The Only Cultural Top 2016 List You Will Ever Need

Lists organize chaos, but only when used properly. Constructed incorrectly, lists cause a dreadful reaction: crippling anxiety capable of reducing you into a fetal position demanding why the universe makes you, small ineffective you, responsible for these tiny, meaningless tasks.

This is why I don’t write to-do lists.

But within the safety net of popular culture, lists equal fun. The 10 best books, movies, TV shows, albums, etc. of 2016. They help us organize the year that was, at least within realms we still lie about possessing some control over. It is a trick, though. We don’t control much anymore, if 2016 indicates anything. No one has offered a worthy explanation to what the hell happened this year. And I don’t think that answer’s coming anytime soon.

My own pursuit of conclusion explains my heedless rush into year-end lists around the holidays. They are digestible, easy to consume within the airport terminals and Kafkaesque line-waiting terrors awaiting most of us this time of year. (Thanks for kind of protecting us TSA, I guess.) They’re usually fun to see if your favorite movie or record align with the critical consensus. It means, for at least the moment, you’re tapped into the frequency of cool or hip or [fire emoji].

Maybe I am finally reading between the lines, or something has changed, but these lists aren’t doing it for me this year. They all seem so dull and shallow, and in a way they weren’t previously. They all read like their main goal is to pander: to critics, to the *woke* crowd, to industry folks. Explanations of their excellence heavily lean into representative politics and reduces to “it’s just important this thing exists.” It turns the record or TV show into a symbol first, then discusses other people reacting to that symbol. Maybe it’s all a function of our social media era: everything and everyone’s a stand-in for whatever others want them to be.

Anyways, that’s why instead I’m offering a solution. To scratch the itch, I’m writing every unorthodox list I can think up. No top 10 TV shows, or songs, or whatever. It’s hyper personal and specific because that’s what year-end lists should be. I guess unless you’re, like, a critic for the NYTimes or whatever. Since we’re definitively not that, this will have to do.

Songs I wish played at every social gathering

  • Big Baby D.R.A.M. ft. Lil Yachty “Broccoli”
  • Chance the Rapper ft. 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne “No Problems”
  • Rae Sremmurd “Black Beatles”
  • Beyoncé “Sorry” (if only to watch Beyhive members slightly embarrass themselves) (don’t @ me, Beyhive) (please)
  • Kanye West “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1”
  • Anderson .Paak ft. ScHoolboy Q “Am I Wrong?”
  • ScHoolboy Q ft. Kanye “THat Part” (but only Kanye’s “Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay” that part)
  • Future ft. The Weeknd “Low Life”
  • Joey Purp ft. Chance “Girls @”
  • Lil Uzi Vert “Do What I Want”
  • Desiigner “Panda” (but only a minute, because then I’m too tired after that)
  • Rihanna ft. Drake “Work”

Records I should’ve listened to more

  • ScHoolboy Q, Blank Face LP
  • Isiah Rashad, The Sun’s Tirade
  • Mitsky, Puberty 2
  • David Bowie, Blackstar
  • Frank Ocean, Endless (please just fix the stream, Apple)
  • Nx Worries, Yes Lawd!
  • Kevin Abstract, American Boyfriend

Cultural *moments* I loved skipping

  • Stranger Things
  • Westworld
  • Lemonade (watched it a few months later; now obsessed)
  • Drake’s silly-ass Kid Cudi and Pusha T diss
  • The end of the Saint Pablo tour
  • Yeezy fashion show [insert whatever number here]
  • Hamilton (mostly I’m just salty like most because I haven’t seen it)
  • Any Lena Dunham-related drama
  • J. Cole
  • J. Cole (seriously)

Cultural *moments* I loved participating in

  • Dave Chappelle and A Tribe Called Quest hosting SNL
  • Kanye’s Life of Pablo rollout
  • Kanye’s Twitter rant vs. Wiz Khalifa (Wiz was right, but who cares?)
  • All things Golden State and Steph Curry
  • LeBron James literally blocking all things Golden State and Steph Curry
  • DJ Khaled’s Snapchat Rise (stopped watching now, dude played himself)
  • Atlanta
  • The Lobster
  • HODOR! HODOR! HODOR!
  • Moonlight
  • Frank Ocean (100% worth)
  • Pokémon Go (over it now, though)

Concerts I attended, ranked

  • Kaytranada, 99.9 percent tour
  • Chance, Magnificent Coloring World
  • Kanye, Saint Pablo
  • Mac Miller, Divine Feminine (had tickets, but didn’t go; long story but it involves my apartment complex towing my car and waiting in impound lots while Mac played)

Fresh things I enjoyed a lot, but okay with only experiencing once

  • Arrival
  • Beyoncé’s Lemoande film
  • O.J. Made In America
  • Sausage Party
  • White Girl

Things I ended up liking despite myself

Favorite albums, not ranked

  • Kanye West, Life of Pablo
  • Rihanna, ANTI (she doesn’t care, but I do)
  • Anderson .Paak, Malibu
  • Francis and the Lights, Farewell, Starlite!
  • Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
  • Chance & Jeremih, Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama (let me overrate things)
  • Kid Cudi, Passion, Pain, and Demon Slayin’
  • Childish Gambino, Awaken, My Love! (weird to watch music fans finally embrace him, and Childish fans slightly turn away)
  • A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
  • Solange, A Seat At The Table
  • Frank Ocean, Blonde
  • The Weeknd, Starboy
  • Meek Mill, DC4 (one too many beef puns, but he earned them)

Personal ultralight beams

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