Friends of the blog weigh in on a crazy year.

Art by Srikar Poruri.

If you’re new here: In 2021, I realized was incredibly bored of seeing the same songs/albums/films/etc on almost every publication’s year-end lists. So I started asking peers to send me their personal year-end lists. The catch was THERE ARE NO RULES. The lists could be about virtually anything. The first List of Lists was an unexpected success, and since then, the List of Lists has become one of the most ridiculous and endearing traditions on this blog. This year we’ve got lists about racing, groceries, YoungBoy, stoop finds and so much more from various friends of the blog. I hope you find something you like. – Mano

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Andrew Matson’s Top 5 Silver Shoes in 2023

MATSON: Literally every brand made a silver shoe in 2023 and most were dumb. Some were great though! These were the best ones.

Dazegxd’s Top 10 Grocery Items They Bought in 2023

DAZE: I moved out of my parents house in 2023. It was a very big moment for me cause that meant I had my own real living space. Also I have to spend more money to live now, outside of paying rent, I started buying groceries for myself. This the top ten groceries I bought since moving out:

10. Eggs

They’re eggs, I can’t really say too much bout them other than the fact that they’re cheap n cool.

9. Lentils

They’re like beans but different & taste better & have more fiber.

8. Spinach

It’s cool when you saute it & throw salt & pepper on it.

7. Whole Wheat Bread

It’s fuckin bread.

6. Rice

It’s fuckin rice, but rice is a versatile ingredient, you can fry it, cook it regular or make like 200 other dishes with just rice as a base and I fw it.

5. Goat Meat

If you never had curry goat you are a lost soul and a fool.

4. Soju

I like alcohol that tastes like juice.

3. Half OZ of Wedding Cake

I like weed more than I like alcohol. 

2. Granny Smith Apples

I want the doctors to stay the FUCK away from me.

1. Strawberries

Shit sweet &  juicy as fuck.

Honorable Mentions: Blackberries, Green Grapes

Will Gendron’s Four Times He Felt Washed in 2023

1. LeBron James in this past postseason. Look, the highest scoring player in NBA history was still impactful, making key defensive plays and getting to the rim when it was absolutely necessary. But, there’s something strange about watching Bron not be the best player on the floor across the months of April through June. There’s something even stranger about watching him summon an otherworldly performance, that clearly drains his gas tank in the first half. And there’s something so strange about watching him smoke a fast break dunk, that it forces the viewer to contemplate mortality.

2. When Ken Carson said: ​​” I’m fucking on a MILF, ayy this bitch like thirty.” 

3. Witnessing the Nettspend outrage cycle. On one hand it makes sense — white rappers have historically been elevated in a way that their non-white contemporaries are not, often breaking in the door themselves. But this sort of shortcut to opportunity by virtue of pigmentation as a marketing lock is typically seen through the prism of a Lil Dicky. Music videos with budgets that exceed the GDP of Gibraltar. 

Nettspend looks like he’s receiving mentorship from DJ Phat because he hasn’t done his homework all semester. He’s released less than 12 songs, is virtually unknown still, and does not have a masterplan to leverage rapping into a Hulu Original. The details change, but the stories remain the same no matter how old you are. I tried doing the Spider Man-adjacent hand signs he did in the video before the FBI swatted my apartment. 

4. When Ken Carson said: “I was fucking on a MILF, she was thirty-six.”







KPR’s 17 Most Life-Changing And Transcendent “Sticking Out Your Gyaat For The Rizzler” Music Parodies Of 2023

17. @hepatitusba4 – My Gyat So Tonka (Yeat’s money so big)

16. @thatsprettyuglyy – When I Rizzed The World (Coldplay’s Viva la Vida) 

15. @jellyhouse – I Hope I Never Edge Again (Chainsmokers’ Closer)

14. @bikini.bottom.sings – I Don’t Gyat A Lot For Christmas (Mariah Carey that song)

13. @curlydaddy101 – Baby Gronk Is Dating Livvy (Kanye West’s I Wonder)

12. @oyomary – Don’t Make Me Pay The Fanum Tax (The Living Tombstone’s FNAF song)

11. @albasneezy – Me and Kai Cenat (Mitski’s Me and my Husband)

10. @drillsholesinherself – Say Gyatt (Elliot Smith’s Say Yes)

9. @felixbosquesh – Your Mew Makes Me Edge (Radiohead’s Creep)

8. @journeyrhodes – $20 in Skibidi (boygenius’ Souvenir)

7. @illumitatiana – Get Gyat, Sigma Gliz Bot (Death Grips’ Get Got)

6. @cr4zo_playlist – Da Biggest Rizzler (Saint Mercator’s Da Biggest Bird)

5. @yismeicha – Give Me Your Ohio (Iron Maiden’s The Trooper)

4. @bigmoneyjamal – Last Rizzmas (Wham’s Last Christmas)

3. @315wash – rizz n peace (Nettspend’s shine n peace)

2. @yonkerrz – Washing Machine Sigma (Mitski’s Washing Machine Heart)

1. @majlam1_ – Chamber of Gyatt (Mac DeMarco’s Chamber of Reflection)


Chamber of Gyatt – @Your Anxiety Buddy #gyatt

♬ original sound – Michael Lam | Filmmaker 🎬

SEBii’s Songs Of 2023 By Color

Yellow – twikipedia – “ok like

Green – lieu – “poison

Orange – Osamason – “Werkin

Pink – Lil Uzi Vert – “I Gotta

Dani Socher’s four best UK rap songs they heard this year 

DANI: As 2023 came to a close, I found myself distressed by the state of popular rap music in America. The artists at the top are stagnating, but they’re also more famous than ever. There’s some great street rap, some good underground stuff—there always is—but I haven’t heard anything that feels destined to take off like a rocketship. Nothing that excites me the way early Youngboy, early Peep, or even early Big Sean (i know) did.

At risk of becoming, like, a guy who listens to UKNOWBIGSEAN Finally Famous Pt. 2 in 2024, I decided to try to get into UK rap. I knew it was a good call immediately—this is a world of production, flow and slang far too thrilling and artistically significant to limit yourself to weak Drake tracks and Central Cee TikTok freestyles. And there’s serious depth, too—the UK is creating talented rappers faster than the Miami Heat can create scrappy wing shooters. 

Here’s a little sampler of what I’m talking about. 

1. YA – “Thugs ‘n Drugs”(will make you want to go to a nightclub at 4am)

2. Blazer Boccle – “WOTSNAPNIN PT. 2”(best use of a 50 Cent sample…ever??)

3. Dide – “Landed” (Sounds like mixtape-era Drake <3)

4. Tion Wayne – “AMEN (feat. Nines)” (Leonard Cohen-level use of choral accompaniment)

swoozydolphin’s 5 for the year (2023) Listening Habits

Getting into heavier Industrial (s/o David Drake):

Return of 90’s Rock in a Big Way (personally)

10k and associates continued Excellence

Spent a lot of time listening to British bands late periods where they only got Increasingly More Soulful over time

More Forward Thinking British Music I feel is merging hip-hop with.. Whatever the artist wants

Ruby Giles’ Best Pre-2010s Internet Finds She Resurrected in 2023 

Sacred finds from before the Internet got Zucced. 

Best Snoopy Objets D’Art of 2023

Joshua Minsoo Kim’s 20 Favorite Lovers Rock Songs

“Early on, though, so much people seemed to think that protest songs and love songs should be kept separate, but they’re all part of how life is.” —Horace Andy

“Close attention is intensely active. Receiving a touch is as active as giving it—sometimes more active, more skilled and more consequential. Erotic attention isn’t an empty bowl touch is poured or pushed into; it is more like a living antenna with a million fibers actively searching the space of the touch for its shape and meaning.” —Ellie Epp


Alphonse Pierre’s 10 horniest rap songs of the year

ALPHONSE: Fuck, sweat, drip, slip that dollar bill between the asscrack. Keep rap freaky.

  1. Sexyy Red: “Poundtown
  2. Cash Cobain: “Drank” 
  3. Dino BTW: “Im Cuming” 
  4. HiTech: “PocketPussy” 
  5. Bril and JMoney: “Red Handed” 
  6. Dylvinci: “Eat Your Ass in the Morning
  7. Juaniee GC, 42Boo, and PM Quel: “Fireeee Bitty” 
  8. Sukihana and Sexyy Red: “Hood Rats” 
  9. Lil Qua 50 and 786 Maine: “Shaking Ass” 
  10. Pig the Gemini and Scoot Banks: “GThang

Andrew Burton’s Top Five Albums He Played Back-to-Back in 2023

ANDREW: The older I get, the more I listen to music in pairs, seeking out albums that complement each other like hearty meat and tangy greens. Too much of one style or artist makes me straight-up dislike that style or artist, doing this keeps my ears sharp. Here are my five favorite duos of 2023:

1. John Coltrane: The Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording -> Shed Theory: Nod Theory

After God’s hammer comes down, it’s nice to zone out with mellow devils.

2. Earl Sweatshirt & The Alchemist: Voir Dire -> Jackie-O Motherfucker: Sing Your Own Song


3. The Birthday Party: Mutiny/The Bad Seed -> Future: BEASTMODE 2

To my mind, both Cave and Future’s prowess peaked here. These are their records I come back to the most. Few can ride syncopated beats as well as these two bluesmen.

4. Sun Ra: Jazz in Silhouette -> Talking Heads: Fear of Music

My favorite albums I played on a six hour drive back to NYC this Labor Day. JiS is what’s heard in cocktail lounges on the moon. Talking Heads’ entire essence can be found between “I Zimbra” and “Mind.”

5. CIA Débutante: Dust -> Yo La Tengo: This Stupid World

For winter walks when it feels like earth don’t spin.

Nigel Washington’s Top 10 Rap Videos Under 10K Views

I fought through recommended videos for Certified Trapper (because I click every time) and year-old DJ Small Eyez interviews (because I clicked once like 7 months ago) to list some of my favorite rap videos of the year under 10k views. No lyric or audio-only videos were included. And any artists seeing this: make more music videos no matter how many views you think it’ll get.

  1. blackchai — GEEDORAH
  2. SOG Wigg ft. Diego — DOA
  4. Dankhead Corleone — UNAVAILABLE
  6. Lil 2 Dow — 21 Gun Salute
  7. Melly vercetti X woodini X Zeb — 700vibes
  9. Swapa — i cut ties
  10.  ItGirl — ASE

Isabel Ling’s 5 Times Her Friends Put Her On This Year

ISABEL: May we always learn from our friends. 

Doechii – “Pacer

I first heard this song in a moment of catharsis during the artist Leslie Cuyjet’s tightly wound performance at The Kitchen, which my bestie Angelique helped curate. Sounds like how running as hard as you physically can feels.

Mizan K

In December I was able to catch a beautiful concert from Ethiopian singer Mizan K, who had opened for King Krule in New York earlier this year, in the multimedia room at the Brooklyn Heights library branch. My friend Ayqa invited me, telling me that Mizan’s music is like medicine. Her ethereal performance of ‘New Song’ really stuck with me, performed in gentle tandem with a sick animation created by her sister, Mizan introduced the song as one about liberation and our collective struggle towards our shared future.

Ali Sethi, Nicolas Jaar – Intiha (Best Album Cover)

I only started listening to this album, really, because Somnath Bhatt, one of my favorite designers, designed the image for the album cover. I love the vibrant blue, filet-crocheted open palm and the signs and symbols it holds. It’s fitting for an album born of collaboration, melding together Sethi’s interpretations of Sufi poetry and Jaar’s epic compositions.

@ihope2bebornagain on Instagram

I feel like people don’t really post songs on their IG stories as much anymore and that’s a shame because that’s how until recently I was learning about a lot of music. Luckily there’s this Instagram account run by Darian that has introduced me to a lot of music I’ve been enjoying, ranging from a mind-altering, watery mix from ambient and electronic musician Malibu to a deranged DJ Jayhood MySpace era remix of One Republic’s Apologize.

Burna Boy in Paris

My long-time best friend Sophie loves Burna Boy so much she tries to steal the aux at every function we go to so she can play his music. Luckily for us, you can also hear his bangers blasting from every car in Brooklyn, NY. This summer when I visited her in Paris, we went to the Burna Boy concert at La Defense Arena, where I was converted into a fan. From an insane Robert Wun get-up, to an on-stage carousel, to a special Jorja Smith appearance, it was clear that the Damini tour was a true production. Also special to see him pay tribute to Fela Kuti (for whom Burna’s grandfather was the manager) in the assemblage of dancers and musicians that accompanied him on the stage. Another highlight was when he was lifted high above the crowd by a network of cables to sing “It’s Plenty”. Manifesting more flying performances in 2024.

Drew Millard’s Top 10 Things That Were “So Back” in 2023


10. DIY 



7. “REAL RAP” 







World’s Strongest Man’s Top 10 Things That Were “So Back” in 2023 











World’s Stonedest Man’s Top 10 Things That Were “So Back” in 2023











Johnny Novo’s All-NBA Lower East Side Restaurants
Congrats to Johnny Novo on his Yelpie! Click on the Drake lyrics to read our profile on him.

PositionNameTypeScouting ReportPlayer Comp
PGTerra ThaiThaiGo-to takeout spot. Somehow got it on the Vet min. Ultimate Teammate, will do ANYTHING to help the team win. Only cares about W or L. 3 to 1 ast/turn ratio.Austin Reaves
SGBlack Seed BagelsBagelsKnockdown shooter. Need a bagel spot in the starting 5, and this is the best bagel in the city don’t @ me. Y’all can keep your Pop Up Bagels and Tompkins.Ray Allen
SFKatz DelicatessenDeliIs the hype absolutely ridiculous? Yes. Is the hype absolutely warranted? Also yes.LeBron James
PFCasa AdelaPuerto RicanEnforcer. Hate playing against him but love him on your team. Maybe the worst customer service in the city, but hands down the best chicken and bang for your buck.Draymond Green
CEmilio’s BallatoItalianAnchoring our team, if we need a big bucket this is where we go. God tier chicken parm. Only knock is not always available as they don’t take reservations.Joel Embiid
PositionNameTypeScouting ReportPlayer Comp
6th manSoothrThaiGoing to just come in the game and COOK. An absolute nightmare for the opponents 2nd unit. Lowkey PISSED Terra Thai starts, but Soothr closes games.Jamal Crawford
7Sunny & AnniesDeliOur Ironman. Open 24 hours with a plethora of sandwich options. Showing up every night regardless of injuries, giving us 110% effort.AC Green
8GianoItalianGod tier Italian food. Homemade pasta. Authentic vibe. Hurt my soul to have it come off the bench but Emilio’s chicken parm gave it the slight edge.Andre Iguodola
9RakuJapaneseUdon is to DIE for. Raku made me like Udon more than ramen and Pho. Fried chicken goes CRAZY too. Killed me not to start it but I just don’t crave Udon often enoughJason Terry
10TakahachiJapaneseBest Sushi in EV. Authentic Japanese vibes, has me feeling like I’m in Shinjuku City. Still unclear why it is so slept on.Manu Ginobili
11Village Square PizzaPizzaNeed a late night pizza spot on the roster. Prince street pizza clone, but better imo. Prince st pissed me off by flipping the Ipad and asking for a 40% tip.Glen “Big Baby” Davis
12Kiki’sGreekThe heartbeat of Dimes Square. Fantastic Greek food and very reasonably priced. Mama’s oven roasted chicken is cheat code. Would go more, just far.Kyle Kuzma
13VeselkaUkranian69 year vet. When we need a spark of the bench to switch up the palate a bit. Ukranian Borscht soup is fantastic. Great diner vibes.Udonis Haslem
14Non LaVietnameseMy goto Vietnamese spot. I’ve tried different things every time I come and never had a regret.Josh Hart
15Clinton St Baking CoAmericanOnly one I haven’t reviewed, but when I crave a traditional american breakfast, this is the optimal option.Boban Marjanovic

Jack Riedy’s Best Guitar Solos of 2023

Chalk it up to a common desire for catharsis, the influence of jam bands, spiritual jazz, and Steely Dan, or perhaps the lingering generational impact of Guitar Hero and Rock Band games, this year musicians across the country rediscovered the power of the guitar solo (myself included). The best guitar solos are utterly unprogrammable, push tracks into the red, and seal the gap between beer music and weed music. Let your hair down and turn your speakers up. Playlist.

  1. “Black Earth, WI” by Ratboys
  2. “Skeleton Is Walking” by Blake Mills
  3. “If The Answer Isn’t Love” by Sen Morimoto
  4. “Knockin’” by MJ Lenderman
  5. “i get along too good” by Big Head
  6. “Steamroller” by feeble little horse
  7. “Rain So Hard” by Strange Ranger
  8. “Holding in a Cough” by Liquid Mike
  9. “Wings” by Cory Hanson
  10. “Cobra” by Megan Thee Stallion

Minh Tran’s Top 10 Stoop-Find Books

MINH: I do not have to have read the book for it to make the list, but each of them are on this list for a reason, whether it be the memories I associate with its discovery, what prompted me to grab it, or the actual contents of the book itself. The answer to the question of whether this makes me a #realreader or a hoarder is up to you.

1. Boys Alive, by Pier Paolo Pasolini

I always knew Pasolini was behind Salo, 120 Days of Sodom, but I never knew he wrote books too! Until I discovered this one. I’m a sucker for an NYRB Classic, so I told myself I would get around to it eventually and snagged it off the street despite having a million books to read at home.

2. A Mountain to the North, by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

This follows the grandson of Prince Genji as he wanders an old monastery in search of a garden, and I found it to be an poetic ode to inanimate process, contemplating material with a level of attention I could never fathom in daily living.

3. The Recognitions and JR, by William Gaddis

I recently built a makeshift nightstand next to my bed by stacking all my found books on the floor, and the 1715 pages that two books are composed of gave me sufficient thickness for the pile to reach the ideal height of my bed.

4. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

This one I actually boosted from the lobby of my apartment after looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was looking. I don’t read much nonfiction, but I’ve always thought studying fungi was pretty wavy, along with providing one way to live with the mess we’ve made of our world. Plus, there was a goated Hua Hsu cosign on the back, so I had to nab it.

5. Writers and Missionaries, Essays on the Radical Imagination, by Adam Shatz

I found this on the street on the way to a bar italia concert at the Bowery Ballroom at the beginning of December. The book is quite large, and it just snugly fit into the enormous inner pocket of my denim jacket. I only made it through the intro on the train before not thinking about its treatise on the thinkers of the 20th and 21st centuries for the rest of the night, as I moshed with it close to my chest, thinking instead about the meteoric rise of bar italia amongst sceney New Yorkers over the last six months. Later that night, at a bar with some people I had never met, someone asked me what I was reading, and I handily pulled this book out, paraphrasing the back description to make it seem like I read more than I actually did. In response, she said “I thought you were gonna pull out all about love by bell hooks.”

6. Saving Time, by Jenny Odell

I was a fan of Jenny Odell’s 2019 book How to Do Nothing (if you know me I’ve probably annoyingly dropped the phrase “attention economy” in conversation as a reason for why I don’t use TikTok) so I decided to try this one out, but stopped after reading the annotations from the previous owner. Whoever they were, they decided to fry Odell in the margins.

7. Border Wisdom, by Ahmad Almallah

Stumbled upon this in early November, as bombs rained down on Gaza and mass graves were being dug. Poetry isn’t my strong suit, but I read a few from here. Then I read them again and again, gripped by the way Almallah archives his memory in writing, a memory that is being decimated by US-manufactured bombs dropped by Israeli forces as I write these words now.

8. Difficult Women, A Memoir of Three, by David Plante

One day, on the way to get coffee, I found several large bags filled with books on the street outside my apartment. There was a woman sifting through what was there, making a pile of her own to take home. We got to chatting when who I presume to be her partner showed up, and recommended I check this one out. It’s part memoir, part portraiture, capturing the lives of these three different women, who are deemed complicated and difficult, in the eyes of Plante. I couldn’t determine whether this was a work of deep misogyny and treachery (bad) or #realhating (illuminating and exhilarating in its commitment to a certain moral position), and I’m excited to get to the bottom of it when I actually read it.

9. Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, by Cookie Mueller

This collection of Cookie Mueller’s writings is an account of a way of living so few of us would dare to do these days, and it makes me yearn for a New York I never got to be intimate with. However, any young person who is discontented with the way things are now should pick this one up and be inspired to live bravely, even if bad shit is around the corner.

10. Oblivion, by David Foster Wallace

This book was found amongst a slush pile of New Sincerity writers dumped on the street, seemingly in an act of purging the homeowner’s bookshelf of literary white men of the early aughts. I was finding Wallace and Franzen books I had never even heard of, and I would’ve taken them all, but practiced restraint and made off with this short story collection, which contains one that meant a lot to me when I read it for a class at the age of seventeen. I reread Good Old Neon shortly after acquiring this book, and it didn’t hit the same. Perhaps that’s a sign of growth.

ZAYALLCAPS’ Favorite At-Home Meals
Zay cheffin up.

ZAYALLCAPS: On the road to becoming a self-sufficient adult, I’m always aiming to cut costs by developing my skill set. Musically, that means I’m once again mixing my own songs and doing some of the artwork for releases. In my personal life, it means I’m getting more comfortable in the kitchen.

I grew up in a household where my dad is the main chef (s/o Mom she’s super nice with the baked goods). I’m lucky enough to have him and a handful of the homies as inspiration. In 2023, I set a record for how often I cooked for myself (and others). So naturally, I have a top 5 list of simple ass go-to meals that power the well-oiled machine that is ZAYALLCAPS LLC.

5. PB&J

I was spamming PB&Js a lot in the first half of the year. I really hate thinking too hard about the first meal of my day. Plus growing up playing basketball, I abided by multiple coaches’ anecdotes about PB&J sandwiches having all the ingredients you need for a good workout.

Strawberry preserves the way to go, and preferably crunchy PB but I’m not picky about that.

4. Alfredo pasta

S/o Diani for showing me how simple making Alfredo sauce can be. This is something I make with no measurements, just eyeball method and vibes. Still gotta get better at whisking so the oil doesn’t sit on top of the sauce but I’m getting there. Obviously I’m pairing it with fettuccini but I also fw Penne for this. Shrimp and mushrooms optional.

3. Eggs over rice

So my dad got me an instant pot as a housewarming gift. I make a lot more rice now. Eggs. Rice. Oyster sauce. Classic Asian comfort food flavors. That’s it. Super reliable; “struggle meal” would be a misnomer.

2. Air fried salmon with mushrooms & rice

I enjoy the simple luxuries of being an indie artist in a major city; finding free street parking, a successful Hinge connection, and eating a fresh Atlantic salmon filet from a chain grocery store.

Air fryer wizardry, most of the time I’m only seasoning with salt because I want that overpowering fishy taste. Air fry the pre-sliced mushrooms in there at the Same Damn Time. Dinner’s served.

1. Air fried chicken thigh with rice

Major hat tip to my chosen twin brother Kwame Adu for putting me onto Air frying chicken. Major hat tip to Mexican grocery stores for good poultry prices IYKYK. This is it. This is my brain food. 

Piping hot and seasoned with my favorite pantry staples, it never misses. I’m amazed every time the air fryer cooks everything all the way through since I can’t be bothered to use a meat thermometer. One more shoutout to Ocho Worldwide for explaining the function of mustard as a binder.

* Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Honorable mention to my dad’s Mac recipe I’ve been getting better at making. Didn’t make the cut because this list isn’t about showing off. Mac ‘N‘ Cheese is a delicate process and very much not a quick meal to prepare.

Harry Thorfinn-George’s Top 5 Horror Films He Watched In 2023

1 ) Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) dir. John D. Hancock 

Experimental and creepy. New all-time fave. 

2) The Beyond (1981) dir. Lucio Fulci 

Apparently there was no completed shooting script when they started filming. You can kinda tell. It’s a Southern Gothic ghost story mixed with Italian giallo featuring killer spiders and zombies. A masterpiece fr. 

3) Slugs (1988) dir. Juan Piquer Simón 

This is about a small town in America overrun by killer slugs. It’s a Spanish production and has an uncanny vibe to it – you can’t shake the feeling that the director has never stepped foot in small town America. Killer slugs are cool too. 

4)  Cigarette Burns (2005) dir. John Carpenter 

John Carpenter directed one episode in the short-lived anthology series Masters of Horror in 2005 and it’s so sick.

5) The White Reindeer (1952) dir. Erik Blomberg 

Hauntingly beautiful Samí folk-horror.

Nathan Evans: Kibo’s Kweffiest Lines of the Year

NATHAN: One rapper that’s held my attention this year is HA3’s Kibo. What sets him apart from other rappers on the scene is how dense his verses are with punchlines and ridiculous hyperbole. He’s got a Rolodex of British references that no other UK rapper is touching, flipping from Premiership footballers and commentators, soap operas like Eastenders and cockney rhyming slang to nerdy ephemera like video games and trading cards. This is on top of his own vernacular (“kweff”, “nang”, “kweng”) that all add up to make his assertions that he’s got your girl backstage even more devastating.

He’s a godlike freestyle rapper, as his status at Balamii’s Victory Lap cypher show proves. With an album released in 2022, this has technically been his off-year. Yet he still managed to get an almighty co-sign from Clint of CRTZ RWT and have Dave call him the “Victory Lap warrior” in 2023. I’ve tried my best to include the best moments of his Kwenglatarian stylistics from this year, but some may be from yonks ago for all I know.

10. “The caucasian Chris Kamara / Mr. cause a palava” [13:25]

9. “The way I two-foot slid in my bag / I should have got sent off” [2:38]

8. ““I am the gnarliest / I am the Scandi flicker / Nangkang burner / casual full speed hairpin turner” [1:13]

7. “I could backheel nutmeg a mermaid” [32:00]

6. “Your baby mother gives me piggyback rides to Tesco / I do a drive-by on her shoulders / hold your home up and then use her as a getaway vehicle / use her ponytail as a steering wheel, yank it like nyoommmm” [4:10]

5. “Bare piff tings in my shindigs / three six maf, got stylez that are mystik / and she’s got a Wagon Wheel / so I might risk it for a biscuit” [1:12]

4. “Certain MCs need to put down the mic, go home and cream their elbows / I could have murked these breds in year 1 in my light-up shoes and boots with the velcro” [46:50]

3. “I’m not actually Kibo / I’m only his lawyer, he’s ghostwriting for me while he fights his open cases / that’s 26 charges of flexing on wastemen” [1:09:20]

2. “Lay your gyal face down like Trap Hole or Sakuretsu Armor / Lay your gyal down like Mirror Force” [13:53]

1. “She’s got CRTZ on her chest / I said, ‘miss, just free up the twins in Alcatraz’ / delectable tings all about the gaff, I’m like, huh okay’ / see the one with the biggidest backalack, I’m like… [censored]” – [40:40

Adlan Jackson’s 5 Ways to Sneak into New York Venues

[Ed note: Try these at your own discretion. No Bells can usually get you a press pass for the gig if you wanna cover it for us.]

ADLAN: I wrote a guide for Study Hall about how to get access the “right way” as a freelance critic/blogger/journalist, but if you’re being ignored by publicists, actually broke (not Bushwick “broke”—be honest), and need to blog about some concerts, here’s a beginner’s guide to sneaking in. 

Brooklyn Steel: Wear a shirt with long sleeves, an outer layer, and a watch. Go through security and get your 21+ wristband, then double back to the smoking section. Idle there for awhile, until everyone’s going back in because the main act is starting, which is like 9pm on a weekday, 10pm on a weekend. Go through the doors on the left, typically the leftmost guard will be the one checking people coming back in from getting food or smoking for stamps on their inner wrists (the rest will be scanning tickets). Make a motion like you’re pulling up your sleeve to show the inside of your left wrist, where the stamp should be (some acting chops help—look like you’re earnestly trying to follow the rules).

Webster Hall: You have a few options here. You can try to slip into the smoking section when no one is looking, and try the same stamp trick as with Brooklyn Steel. Or go to the will call desk and say you’re on the list, and when they can’t find your name, be really chill about it and say someone told you the emergency contacts are Margaret and Courtney. They typically have a few comp tickets per night stashed away in case of snafus, and you want to play it earnest and well-intentioned enough that eventually they just give you one of them. 

Radio City Music Hall: Literally just go up to security, say you’re on the guest list, and take their directions down to the guest services desk, and try to get into the elevator when no one’s looking or just confidently stride into it, preferably if there’s a lot of people milling around. Security here is low-key terrible. If someone stops you just say you got lost and you’re looking for your seat.

Forest Hills Stadium: First of all, never go here. But if you must, the security is so spread out and disorganized you can typically just drift in if you have a sense of timing.

Baby’s All Right: Typically, you can enter the bar section without a ticket, and they check tickets at the door of the concert hall. When the club is nearing capacity, they take down the divider between the bar and the hall, and start checking tickets to enter the bar. So, you have to go when it’s not so crowded so they’re checking tickets for the hall, not the bar. If the show’s not sold out, you can go to the corridor that leads downstairs to the bathroom, which is connected both to the bar section and the hall section, and wait for someone to come out of the hall. Or, if the show is sold out and the club is nearing capacity, get there BETWEEN when they’re checking tickets at the hall entrance and when they switch it to the bar entrance.

Look, no one ever said blogging was a moral business. Hopefully these days are (mostly) behind me, but a baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do. Support independent artists. Tip bartenders. Carry around a sharpie so you can doodle something convincing on the inside of your wrist. Most of all, you have to have no shame and be willing to take it on the chin if you get embarrassed. Your mileage may vary. Where there’s a will there’s a smoking section. Have fun.

billdifferen’s Top Motorsport Liveries Of 2023

If y’all aren’t already aware, I’m tapped in with motorsport, just as I am with music – Finnish lawnmower racing, Arctic Rally Racing, Electric Scooter Racing – I know it all, so only on No Bells, can I get the cool opportunity to showcase something from my other obsession. In this sport, looks are everything, so here are the best looking liveries throughout all motorsport in 2023.

13.NASCAR – Daniel Suarez #99 Pitbull Paint Scheme (Yes, Pitbull has a Nascar team)

12. Formula E – Maserati MSG Racing’s 2023 Formula E Livery (Yeah I know that shit looks like a paper airplane)

11. NASCAR – Y’all thought Pitbull was the only artist to get on a car this year? Nah, we even got the Soundcloud underground down in God’s True Sport as Netspend got to sponsor Kyle Busch at COTA this year (Honorable mentions go to the Bubba Wallace Luke Combs car and also the Guns n Roses Daytona Scheme Erik Jones ran)

10. NASCAR – Riley Herbst’s Ken Block Tribute Scheme at Darlington

9. NASCAR – Bubba Wallace #23 Classic Columbia Scheme at North Wilkesboro (Or any 23XI paint scheme that was put out this year – Michael Jordan making Nascar beautiful with the amount of money he’s putting into the sport)

8. NASCAR: KYLE KUSH 3CHI DELTA 8 CAR – Going from M&Ms money to Delta 8 vape money must be crazy. Must-buy jacket though.

7. INDYCAR – Argentine Agustin Canapino’s World Cup Inspired Livery for the Indy 500 (In which he crashed in hilarious fashion)

6. NASCAR Trucks – Christian Eckes 1950’s Hershel McGriff Throwback Scheme at Darlington.

 5. F1 – Alfa Romeo’s one-off special livery for the Italian Grand Prix

4. GT Racing – UNO Racing Team’s Hello Kitty Audi R8 during the Macau GP Weekend (Sadly crashed 🙁 )

3. INDYCAR – McLaren’s Triple Threat Throwback Liveries for the Indy 500 to represent the Their Triple Crown in Racing.

2. WEC – Ferrari’s First overall Le Mans Victory in 59 years, Heralding a livery that already feels iconic.

1. NASCAR: Ryan Preece and Chase Briscoe Talladega Nights Schemes during the Fall Talladega Race – Shake and Bake Baby.

Vivian Medithi’s Scents + Songs 2023

Baby Osama – “Feelin Like Sexyy Red” // Rose Supercritique – Les Eaux Primordiales

Babyxsosa – “Baby G” // Copper Skies – Kerosene Fragrances

Haykal feat. Julmud  – “3asal” // With The Candlestick – Clue Perfumery

FLEE – “1 TO WHENEVER” // Lolita Lempicka – Lolita Lempicka

Tomu DJ feat. blessingsnore – “Rather B With U” // Macanudo – Maison d’etto

REALYUNGPHIL – “THE ONE” // Ochre – Chris Rusak

Veeze – “GAIG” // Multiball – Pearfat Parfum

(bonus fav writing i did this year: on vampires; on Travis Scott; on Raving.)

Olivier Lafontant’s Rap Lyrics That He Incessantly Blurted Out at Random in 2023

“I.v onnat beat, Elle add it up la sauce” +  “I can see this b* in my DMs sayin’ I’m the GOAT” – Yuri Online on “Soul”

  • The cousins I have in France sparsely occupy the gaps between my childhood eyeblinks, so most recollections of them before this year are pretty opaque. When I visited them and the rest of my extended family in Mâcon this summer, I regretted not being able to converse with them in French. My interactions with them were often limited to simple words and phrases, and my parents served as impromptu translators whenever necessary. I like to tell myself I won’t die before becoming fluent, and I say that here to hold myself accountable. I also say that here because I really really want to be able to understand what the fuck Yuri Online be talking about in his songs. No one sounds cooler on a track in 2023 than the French rapper on “Soul,” a lush, iridescent masterclass in plugg music. Yuri flexes Franglish colloquialisms through watery syntax and a sense of swag palpable enough to make you side-eye the language barrier. Since I moved to NYC in July, so many of my evanescent triumphs and moments of vanity have lived vicariously through this track––an earworm for the life I just started living. Soon enough, I’ll figure out what it’s been telling me.

“You know I’m fried, hmm / Popeyes” – 2sdxrt3all on “what’s da plan?”

  • Funniest rapper of the year! I could’ve just made this an entire list of Dxrt3all bars foreal.

“She wanna suck my dick, I let her suck my diiiiiiick” – Yhapojj on “Hurt My Feelings”

  • I saw Clip tweet a few months ago that Yhapojj was better than Young Thug and that “Hurt My Feelings” was her favorite song. Don’t worry, the first part made me scratch my head too. All I’m saying is I been addicted ever since.

“I got every Balenciaga boots except for da Crocs” – Ken Carson on “Me N My Kup”

  • Yeah, he got off on this entire track. I think I’ll be rapping this verse for at least the next few decades, I don’t know. Generational stuff here.

“So geeked up you’d think it’s cap / She bossed up but I put her on da map” – Lucki on “No Bap”

“I been through pain I been healin’” x5 – Lunchbox on “Healin”

“I’m a convicted felon, thank the Lord I ain’t went to prison 🙏🏾” – Slime Dollaz on “Drippin”

  • I am not a convicted felon.

“Yeah I got money, I’ll pay for dat damn smoke / Yeah I got racks, I’ll pay for dat damn h*e” – Brezzo on “Full Roll”

Serge Selenou’s ERRORS NOT FOUND Transit Survival Guide

SERGE: spent a good chunk of the year roaming through the southwestern US, dashing through terminals to prevent missed flights, and floating in liminal spaces (literally and figuratively). here’s the art that kept my eyes peeled, thoughts centered, and outlook facing forward:

Wiley from Atlanta

The Cutting Room Floor 

Extra Lucky 2

Perfect Days

Throwing Fits


Stay True





The Rabbit Hutch

Come On World, You Can’t Go!

Strike (Key!mix)

Hardstyle MiX! 2023 #Excelsior

Tracy Chapman

che + natecxo

The Cure

Eli Schoop’s Best DMV Crank of the Year

ELI: Got really into DMV crank this year, the DMV has the best street rap on the planet.

1. Morally Rich Jake x Gizwop – “Call in a Blitz

2. TrapKane x Gizwop x Young Foot Soldier – “Anyway

3. Keezah – “Fire

4. DB ODog – “Run The City

5. Youngfootsoldier – “Button

6. No Savage – “Dirty 38

7. Reggie Reg – “First Day Out

8. KP Skywalka x Paco Panama x Smoke Chapo – “Bangin Hard

9. Gizwop x No Savage – “Critical

10. Trapkane x DB ODog – “Kane and Odog

Nora Lee and Jack Ellis’ Best YoungBoy of 2023

1. “Choppa Doctor

2. “War

3. “Deep Down

4. “Black

5. “Bitch Let’s Do It

6. “Dirty Thug

7. “Testimony

8. “By Myself

9. “Guitar Hero

10. “Off Da Lean

Harley Geffner’s Favorite Pyro The Pastor IG Captions of 2023

HARLEY: If I had to re-make my end of year best songs list, every song would be a Pyro Pillionaire song. His voice sounds like the echo of a whisper, and his post-pluggnb sound has a sticky, rings around in your head type of feel to it. I constantly catch myself warbling his melodically sharp one-liners like “Everything worth having take time,” or “Tryna make a change and live a random life that they don’t know ’bout.” But more importantly, Pyro is a Pastor. I have not had an IG for the last year and change, yet I clock in on desktop just to peep new Pyro posts for my daily inspo. It’s usually a still of him flexing with a snippet of his music playing over it. The music is amazing (read this for more), but here is a ranking of my favorite Pyro The Pastor IG Captions:

1. I hope you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live. 

2. [On a photo of him as a child] I owe this lil one everything. He’s seen a lot, been through a lot, but he never gave up. He was built for this shit no matter the situation he kept goin. I’m getting closer to who he was by the day because as you can see he ain’t give nan damn. I love you youngster. Keep motivating me to be who you wanted me to be and who you expect me to be. I got you fashitsho. Thank you. #Pyro

3. I’m not wrong for liking lesbian women. Ian even got nun else to say today. I really enjoy the taste I have. All that make up and shit don’t move me. I like em regular. God bless the Ulta Hoes shit just not my flavor. I gotta wash these pillows cause you wanna paint your face got damn. Let it breathe. #Pyro

4. I got the name Pyro when I was a kid because I would always play in the fireplace. My people would always tell me to stay out of the fireplace but I wasn’t tryna hear that shit. Eventually I started finding lighters and setting random shit on fire in my granny’s crib and panicking because I never thought about once I put the fire out that the shit would leave a smell. Then I graduated to goin outside and playing with fireworks and holding them until the last second before they would pop. This one time my cousin threw a firework in the air and it came back down and hit me and burned up my favorite Allen Iverson jersey. But yea just some history. I hope y’all been aight today. God Bless. Good luck with what the week holds for ya. Keep the most high in your life and stay away from fire. #Pyro

5. You’re sittin on the couch and you’re watchin TV and your life’s passing you by. You keep procrastinating over and over it’s not the right time to do this, imma just wait till I got this all the way together before I show the world. Fuck that, do it right now, you can chase your dreams before work or after work. Whatever you need to do to level up. You spend all day on the phone anyhow, why don’t you post that song, post content, network with people. Why don’t you make a change that’s gonna help your future. Start today fuck what they talkin about. Praise the Lord. Pull up to EVOL tonight my set is @ 1AM details on my story. Mhmm. #Pyro

6. The “NO SIM CARD PROPHET”. I’ve practiced abstinence, disconnection, and traveled on some nomad shit. I haven’t had a real number since 2020, but I’ve traveled great distances by the grace of the most high. Anyone I’ve crossed paths with over these past couple of years will tell you I am that I am. The most high blessed me to be a humble warrior. I could never knock your hustle I know what it’s like with nothin. No bed, noodle packs + tuna cans, cheap alcohol, but thanks to some dear friends a roof was over my head. I’m still here puttin flavor in your ear. You can’t tell me there’s not a higher power. Cause I came out the red dirt that they turn into bricks they build projects buildings with. Resilient as they come, rap wasn’t a job let the world tell it. But if I say anything about a regular job I should be humble. Who tf programming these people. Anyways, praise the lord another day out here fulfilling the purpose he’s givin. On my mission indeed. Sock it. #Pyro

7. Before you fix your mouth to tell somebody to quit following their dreams start following yours. I bet all that quit shit go out the window. I would never tell anybody to stop doing something they have a passion for. I might tell you to quit your job at McDonald’s and go fulfill your purpose. But I’ll never tell you to quit your purpose and go work at McDonald’s. Ain’t nun wrong with working at McDonald’s if that’s what you wanna do. But that’s not why the most high put you here. We all are put here for a unique solo mission to make some type of difference. Whatever you feel the need to do in your heart do that shit. Fuck a naysayer they don’t believe in themselves. Why listen to a mf that don’t do nun but watch other people and criticize them. They can suck a duck. I said duck you sun of a gun. I pity the bitch that doesn’t have courage to follow their purpose but talk down on the next person who’s trying. It’s a special place in the infirmary for you. God bless. #Pyro

8. Look in the mirror and ask yourself when was the last time you were a blessing to others. When I pray I ask the most high to put me a position to help. I don’t want shit all for myself there’s no fun in that. Seeing others happy and helping other people’s situation is what makes my heart smile. I don’t do this shit for me, I do this shit for people like me. There’s genuine people out here but there’s also a ying to that yang. Some people will never be remembered because of how they treated others. Some will live forever and never be forgotten because of how they treated others. Who you gone be? Ain’t no fun if my dawg can’t get nun. If I shine we all shine. If I lose then I lose. Willing to make that sacrifice for the greater good. Mfs know when you need help, it’s not their obligation to help but what would it hurt. I’m making it my obligation to help as many people who really need it whenever I have a chance. Go be a blessin to someone. The most high is watchin. #Pyro

9. Greetings my churchgoers and my fellow sinners. I hope everyone is having a blessed night. I’m not here to hold you long so I’m gonna get straight into my message. There are gonna be people that come and go in your life and there’s nothing wrong with that because that’s a part of life. But a lot of times we tend to hold on to cancers in our life. People that are no good for us and people who are holding us back. Whether it’s the bitch, your so called homies, or your dear loved ones. And the thing that keeps us in these cancerous relationships is that unconditional love you have for those people. I’m here today to tell you that you can let those people go and still love them. It’s ok to love people from a distance. But a lot of times when you love people from a distance you start to fade away from them and realize they really were either a hindrance, an opportunist, or they simply were just around for no reason at all. You can do bad all by yourself but you can also do good with people who genuinely love you like you love them. So let go, and let the most high bring you everything you need. Stop chasing shit and attract it. Yes Lord. God bless. #Pyro

10. Your time is valuable. Treat it as such. Focus on what feeds you spiritually, mentally, and physically in a positive manner. Stray away from small talk and conversations that don’t help either party. Stray away from people who don’t support you. Stray away from things that don’t serve you any good. You’ll fuck around and block your blessings fuckin with somebody just to fw them. Learn to let go. Learn to tell people you don’t wanna talk. Learn to stop fuckin with people just because you don’t wanna. A lot of people don’t cherish what they have until they no longer have it. Be what they didn’t cherish and what they miss. It ain’t your fault people take shit for granted. God bless you and them. #Pyro

Cuautemoc Xocoyotzin’s Top 3 Coveted Drip Pieces & Top 6 Movie Viewing Experiences of 2023

Drip Pieces

1.) Y/PROJECT Cowboy High Cuff Denim Pants

I’m not exaggerating when I say purchasing these has drastically changed the course of my life for the better. Convertible pants??? Chop the top off tha denim!!! If no one else got me I know the ssense seasonal sale got me. 

2.) WILLY CHAVARRIA Lamb Skin Buffalo Track Jacket 

Decadence feels like the warm embrace of a $3,200, made in USA, buttery lamb skin track jacket designed by the CFDA’s ‘Latino Designer’ (side eye) of the Year: Big Willy Chavarria. This piece is my thesis for cyber Chicano core. (Become a patron so I can afford this)

3.) Kiko Kostadinov x Asics NOVALIS GEL TEREMOA (Black Colorway)

Kiko just jumped over Jumpman! How many scrawny lil Eastern European designers you know got their own cyberpunk adjace subbrand under thee footwear brand of the moment?!

Movie Experiences 

1.) Poor Things

2.) Beau Is Afraid

3.) Rotting In the Sun 

4.) I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me

5.) They Cloned Tyrone

6.) Dream Scenario

Anusha Allamsetty’s Best IG Reels of 2023

ANUSHA: This year I asked myself, what do I know enough to write about for No Bells? Instagram Reels. Methodology: Go into my finsta likes and filter through all the reels I liked this year to find some of my favorites to share with you all. The following is a personalized selection of the best moments on Instagram Reels in 2023. 

Chinese Deepfake Elon Musk (YiLongMa)

Mom finds her son’s DMs to SoFaygo

Interpretive Dance

Cute Muslim Spiderman


Jackie Chan Got Some Moves

Wake up

City of Mudbone vs. Illegal Basement Pool

Average 2023 NYC function

Lil Baby serenaded 

I wish I had a younger sister

New Method for Free Rides

When they call your order in the restaurant

No excuse

This Ain’t What You Want

Too many to pick from his page so he wins

Yousef Hilmy’s Techno Maniacs 2023

YOUSEF: Lil list of crazy techno people.


Max Watts

DJ Angeldu$t

Oak City Slums



Force Placement

Vasant Sundaresan’s Best Instrumental Albums

Robohands – Palms (gentle jazz)

The Circling Sun – Spirits (spiritual jazz)

Andre 3000 – New Blue Sun (cosmic journeys)

Alfa Mist – Variables (jazz/hip-hop)

Oneohtrix Point Never – Again (electronic)

Hayden Pedigo – The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored (acoustic guitar folk)

Cumulus Frisbee – The Only Way Out Is Through (jazz/hip-hop) 

Moses Yoofee Trio – OCEAN (jazz/breakbeat)

Purelink – Signs (ambient/electronic)

Sam Gendel – AUDIOBOOK (ambient)

Abe Beame’s Definitive Ranking of the Best Pieces He Didn’t Write This Year

ABE: In what is an act of self-reflection, and a cleansing, of moving into a new year with an open heart, I decided to dump (some of!) my notebook here, to explain a few of my dumb ideas that didn’t work for any number of reasons in 2023. I’ve done my best to redact the outlets in question, in order to protect the innocent (and the guilty), but I thought as an exercise, this could be funny, and I figured it could perhaps help other writers who think they may just have uncommonly bad luck.

I also just want to say that this list would’ve been far, far longer without the guiding hand of my guy Dimas Sanfiorenzo and the staff at the late, great Okayplayer. Shout to all the great places to write for that we lost this year. Writers, may the odds be ever in your favor.

15. Rae Sremmurd’s Album Art- A bad idea. I’ve always liked the very distinct photography the duo use for their album covers, but there isn’t any real thematic throughline. The editor I pitched it to called this out, and they were right. 

14. Scarface Performance & Interview- Had this one locked and ready to go, and even bought a ticket for myself and a colleague to see the legend when he came to town, but Scarface double booked himself, with a performance in Houston he scheduled for the same day as the performance in Brooklyn.

13. Libianca’s Song of the Summer Contender- People” is still my shit. It’s a sad and fucked up song about the narratives people create in their heads and the things they do to themselves as a result that starts as an afrobeat ballad and ends as a Gregorian chant. It briefly took over Flatbush early summer and I thought it had a shot at going all the way. Libianca has a fascinating story. She grew up between Minnesota and Cameroon and had her big break on a random NBC reality singing show where she cracked the top 20. The song is about her real life struggles with bipolar disorder. I thought it would’ve made for a fascinating conversation. No one else did. 

12. Tim Heidecker Live- Tim Heidecker played Webster Hall in August, and I was several weeks out in front of it, trying to cover his oddly straight ahead dad rock stylings and write about its place in the larger context of his fascinating career. No one bit, but I felt justified when an outlet I didn’t pitch the idea to wrote the exact piece I had in mind.

11. With Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan has become the Ultimate Dad Film director- This one could be the story of maybe five other pitches. I walked out of this film the day it was released for normies, pitched this idea to my editor, and they responded with a link to this exact piece with the same angle I was pitching. It had dropped an hour before, penned by a very talented staff writer who fucking crushed like they always do, but it doesn’t really mitigate the sting.

10. Q&A With the State Property ASL Interpreter- I was in Philly at the Roots Picnic this Summer, and during the incredible State Prop reunion set there was this dude on stage who was signing along with the songs and killing it. I wanted to talk to the interpreter and find an outlet for his story, and discuss how he goes about doing his job, but I couldn’t make headway even figuring out who he was- and to be honest- I simply didn’t push on it hard enough.

9. Westside Gunn’s Final Project- In October, I had the opportunity to do whatever I wanted with Gunn for a profile. I thought it would be funny to take him to Russ & Daughters Cafe for bagels and lox. One editor I liked for it wasn’t moved and the other didn’t have any space for another profile in 2023.

8. Buhloone Mindstate at 30- Wanted to write a retrospect, tracking down all the surviving members, Paul, the Native Tongues, rappers from subsequent generations, everyone, to discuss my favorite De La album in the midst of what was a big De La year.

7. An Interview with the last #TeamNurkic Nuggets Fan- I liked this one! A fake Q&A in which after the Nuggets won the chip, I found the last guy in Denver who still believes they should’ve kept Jusuf Nurkic over Nikola Jokic.

6. Air & The Top 10 Sneaker Origin Stories We’d Like To See Next- Pitching other shoe stories in the Air mode. Let’s make a movie about where Dunks came from. The birth of the Yeezy Red Octobers could be a harrowing Aronofsky masterpiece. Shaq’s Reebok Pumps, the Sambas, etc. The rejection on this was a weird one. The place I liked for this claimed they already had the movie covered with another angle, then nothing ever came of it. An editor should write a list like this about pieces they liked that never ran and explain all the things that go wrong on their end.

5. Pink Pantheress’ New York State of Mind- Another one I couldn’t talk anyone into. Pink Pantheress is surprisingly attuned to the NY rap scene and has worked with several artists and producers before they blew up. I- at least- am curious to find out where her interest in the city came from.

4. Rob49 & a Passing of the Torch in New Orleans- Tough one. I could’ve gone to Miami to sit on site and watch Rob49 shoot a music video for his first song with Lil Wayne a few weeks ago, representing a fairly overt generational shift. I saw a number of threads to pull on, narrative, legacy, the state of New Orleans rap, etc. I didn’t exactly get a “No” but I didn’t get a yes and the clock ran out. Bummer.

3. The Rapper Who Will Remain Nameless Saga- My biggest L of the year. Had a piece greenlit in pocket with the perfect outlet for months and the perfect idea for an original approach to a profile on [REDACTED]. I read the “tea leaves”, (saw a new album was coming miles away because (rapper) was dropping breadcrumbs in IG stories since spring), everything was lined up. Problem is, I couldn’t move the ball a yard with the artist or label. Still have no clue what went wrong. All the rest of these failed pieces should be read at the register of, “Shrug emoji couldn’t make it happen what’re you going to do haha” But this one was truly miserable. A long slow defeat, bashing my head against a brick wall over and over again for an entire year trying to get anyone involved in either camp interested in an opportunity 99% of the working artists on Earth would kill for. If I live a shitty life, when I die, I’ll spend the rest of eternity trying to get [Redacted] team or his label to respond to an email or text. 

2. Cole Bennett and the State of the Music Video- My first green of the year and it could’ve been a great one. The idea was to trail Lyrical Lemonade’s Cole Bennet from inception to final product on a music video to report on his process and the facility of the postmodern music video, through the lens of one if its last big budget, big concept, event auteurs, at a time when its cultural currency has never been lower. Cole’s team wanted print, I couldn’t guarantee it. They passed.  

1. Metro Boomin, Across the Spider Verse- Loved this one, good marriage of angle and subject. Thought Metro’s work on the Spider Verse soundtrack was great and widely underappreciated. My idea was to go watch the movie with him then discuss how he put it together, how much of it was a collaboration with the filmmakers, and what it was like seeing the finished product paired to his music on the big screen afterwards. My editor gave me a wary, “Uh, if you can pull that off, go ahead lmao”. Metro was in town the week the film hit theaters, and his PR person was into it. Unfortunately, he wasn’t.

Josh Svetz’s Five Best & Worst Concerts 

SVETZ: The only good perk of having a music journalism job in 2023 is getting to go to shows. But still, I love concerts, and getting the opportunity to go to 300+ this year was surreal. 

Five Worst:

5. PinkPantheress At Camp Flog Gnaw (Los Angeles)

Love her music, but she’s not built for festivals.

4. Playboi Carti At Rolling Loud (Miami)

Not worth the two hour wait to hear him just screech like a bat.

3. Baby Keem At Camp Flog Gnaw (Los Angeles)

Not ready for primetime, especially when paired with Kendrick. Such little stage presence I’m convinced he has no rizz.

2. Rex Orange County At Camp Flog Gnaw (Los Angeles)

In general, this festival kinda sucked but the Rex Orange County nostalgia tour was the saddest of them all.

1. Everytime Lil Durk Showed Up (Miami, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York, Sweden)

It doesn’t matter who I saw in 2023, for some reason, they just HAD to bring out Lil Durk, who’s been making the most mid music since his collaboration with Lil Baby, Voice Of The Heroes. Being subjected to several unprompted Smurkio performances broke something in my brain. And it bothers me because Lil Durk is someone I’d like to root for, but I swear if I hear “Broadway Girls” or “All My Life” one more time, then let this document be my thirteenth reason.

Five Best:

5. Megan Thee Stallion For Final Four Weekend (Houston, Texas)

Getting to see the hottie homecoming next to marketing execs and tik tok stars was a treat.

4. Flatbush Zombies At The Fillmore (Silver Spring, Maryland)

Zombie, The Architect and Meech actually understand how to rap in congruence with each other live instead of most of these half-assed attempts when Rapper X brings out Rapper Y (and rapper Y is usually Lil Durk).

3. Coco Jones At Broccoli City Festival (Washington D.C.)

Will never forget Coco belting SWV’s “Rain” in a flash downpour without missing a single note. It’s moments like that which make icons.

2. Lil Baby At Capital One Arena (Washington D.C.)

His last album may have sucked, but bringing in Teyana Taylor to serve as his creative director took Baby to another level, where his furious flow matched the trippy visual effects and acrobatic choreography Taylor and co cooked up. Baby knows game.

Honorable Mentions:
The Wednesday
Everytime Wifigawd shows up

1. Lauryn Hill At Yankee Stadium For HipHop50 (Bronx, New York)

After 10 hours in Yankee stadium seeing everyone from Lupe Fiasco to Slick Rick, and Wu-Tang Clan to A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (???), I will admit by 2 A.M, I was falling asleep watching Nas. But what little energy I had left returned when Lauryn Hill popped out for a surprise guest appearance and she’s as electric as people who’ve seen her perform (when she shows up) have said.

Mano Sundaresan’s Degrassi Wrapped

MANO: Of course I started watching Degrassi: The Next Generation because of Drake. As a rap critic I felt I needed to understand the full arc of the most popular and insufferable rapper on the planet. And Wheelchair Jimmy does not disappoint. I particularly love how his and Spinner’s rocky bromance evolves over the course of the show.

Sadly, around Seasons 7-8, you can feel the show deflate like a balloon with Darcy Edwards’ face plastered on it as the first wave of cast members trickles out. The high school teen drama gets a lot of love in retrospect for navigating mature topics like school shootings and teen pregnancies, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that some of those later seasons are absolute dogshit and recycle plots like Travis Scott does Kanye West demos. Nonetheless, I realized midway through 2023 I was wholly addicted to this dumb ass show. It latched onto me like a parasite. I shrugged off Succession Watch Parties to burrow into the third student-teacher relationship arc. I started reading forum threads. I learned about the Degrassi Black Hole (TLDR they regularly kill off major characters with no explanation!) and steam promptly puffed out my ears. The show ran 14 seasons and I can’t wholeheartedly endorse watching more than three or four of them unless you’re a sicko like me.

Some stats:

I got 2 other people into watching Degrassi: The Next Generation. Apologies to you both.

I irritated at least 6 people watching this show at my apartment, my parents’ place and other locations that weren’t my bedroom on my laptop.

It takes 7 days, 18 hours and 30 minutes to watch every episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation. Editors please commission me in 2024 before I do something this fucked up again.

Five Good Drake/Jimmy-Centered Episodes That Don’t Involve Him Getting Shot:

  1. S3 E16: “Take On Me” (The weekend detention episode. Wish the show had more fun like this.)
  2. S7 E4: “It’s Tricky” (Goated Jimmy raps in this one.)
  3. S6 E7: “Working for the Weekend” (This is the episode where Spinner’s aptitude test reveals his top 3 career areas are CLOWN, POLICE OFFICER, and LUMBERJACK.)
  4. S3 E1: “Accidents Will Happen” (The rare Toby/Jimmy episodes were so good.)
  5. S2 E3: “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (Early Jimmy/Spinner moment.)

Well, that’s another List of Lists. If you somehow made it this far, congrats / that’s a little concerning. Believe or not we still gotta couple more EOY lists to drop cuz 2023 was just that crazy. THANK YOU.

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