Last year, I started writing for DJBooth, a publication that covers hip hop and which I deeply revere. I wrote three articles in 2017 and set a personal goal to double that in 2018. I’m now ending the year with 14 articles written for DJBooth in 2018, in addition to my first academic article on hip hop and religion going live in Black Theology: An International Journal.
That said, I am here to honor my annual tradition of sharing my favorite albums of 2018, in hopes that you might find something you like and might tell me about something I missed. This was a year marked for changes in my personal life: it was my first full year of marriage, I earned my Master’s degree, and I returned to teaching this fall. I also found my music choices transitioning, as older favorites began to disappoint and new favorites replaced them.
Every year I make a list of my favorite albums, but I realized I never share the books that I read. In 2018, I read 80 books, and I figured it would help my own memory if I took the time to note the ones that made an impact on me. Perhaps you’ll find something you like or want to discuss with me. I’d love to connect through our shared shelves.
Two places you can find my writing today:
I have a short story in PIVOT Literature‘s very first issue. Years ago I started a story featuring Adam and Eve’s domestic troubles, and I gave it an update. You can read “The Hole in Everything” here.
For my tenth article with DJBooth, I had the chance to reflect on one of my all-time albums, Kanye West’s Yeezus. It turns five today, and I wrote about its creator, his followers, and his detractors. You can read “Listeners in the Hands of a Projected God” here.
As always, thanks for reading.
In 2014, I began an era of artistic output known as The Age of Solitude, which included letters of poetry mailed out and culminated in the release of the 2016 album, my anxious age. In conjunction with my performance of the album, I wrote a short film that Noël Wiggins produced and directed. Previously unshared, the film is available for your viewing here.
Almost two years ago, I made the decision to leave my role as a middle and high school teacher to pursue a Master’s in Theological Studies. It was both a difficult step to take, and also one I felt was necessary in order to follow a dream I had to research religion and music more deeply.
If I am being truthful, I regretted the decision almost immediately. As my first semester of classes began in the Fall of 2016, I found myself struggling to justify why I had left a job which had given me purpose to earn a degree that would just require another degree to get me as far as I believed I wanted to go. I started to experience the feelings I felt when I was 12 and 19, those feelings that became the days themselves and cast their long shadows over months. It didn’t make sense: I was privileged enough to study for my Master’s, something few people get to do, and I was about to propose to my then-girlfriend, whom I had loved for years.
I have a new poem in Issue #15 of FreezeRay Poetry, an online poetry journal I admire. The poem is about family, technology, Seinfeld, and the ways that narratives we haven’t lived can still haunt us. You can read (and hear me reading!) “The One About Us” and the rest of Issue #15 here.
All of my writings can be found on the Publications page. Thank you for reading.
2017 was full of personal growth and joy in the midst of a revealing and painful year for our society. The albums that provided the soundtrack to my year reflect those two poles, with much of what I listened to providing a prophetic voice for troubled times.
This is also my fifth year noting my favorite albums in a year, so I took some time to see how my past years lined up with my current view on the albums listed then. In 2013, almost every album stayed in my rotation, but in 2014, only three did. I was mostly right about 2015, and last year, in 2016, I would go back and move Solange and ScHoolboy Q up to the spots right under Frank Ocean. We’ll see how this year stacks up, but for now, here are the albums that provided the soundtrack to my year.