Pazz & Jop Voter Comments: Rick Ross Lies, the Rolling Stones Plunder, and Taylor Swift Triumphs

At least an episode of Tim & Eric has the decency to last only 10 minutes. Chillwave had the gall to last an entire year. 

Michael Tedder
Brooklyn, NY

In truth, Willow Smith is 10 years old, and Rick Ross was never a drug kingpin. In practice, Willow Smith is 23 years old, and Rick Ross is the most notorious cocaine dealer in America. Such was the power of sheer will in 2010. Unlike Ross, there was no controversy or surprise about Willow Smith’s backstory: She’s Will Smith’s kid, and precocious superstardom was coming to her like adult teeth. But much like Ross, her single “Whip My Hair” is rife with blatant untruths: in her case, having haters, driving cars, grinding, “getting it in,” and saying “hurr.” And yet Smith channeled the spirit of Ross’s “B.M.F. (Blowing Money Fast),” inhabiting her character so emphatically and convincingly that it rendered her real self irrelevant and her song a megaton monster. Haters didn’t get shook off, as the song says; instead, they got run over. By a 10-year-old driving a car.

Rick Ross, expert liar
Courtesy Island Def Jam
Rick Ross, expert liar


Pazz and Jop 2010
Rise of the Douchebags
Kanye West and James Murphy turn their private flaws into public triumphs
By Zach Baron

Never Forget
Cee Lo Green sums up 2010 in two little words
By Rob Harvilla

Little Pink Polos for You and Me
Wallowing and/or reveling in social anxiety with Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend
By Eric Harvey

The Wayward Crucifixion of M.I.A.
On the dodgy, opportunistic, truffle-fry-fueled campaign against both Maya and Maya
By Charles Aaron

Leave Chillwave Alone
In defense of the nostalgia-steeped genre Ariel Pink both invented and abandoned
By Simon Reynolds

Attack of the Singing Rappers
On Drake, Nicki Minaj, B.o.B., and the art of the debut-as-pop-crossover
By Clover Hope

The Great Gay-Pander-Off of 2010
Katy, Nicki, Ke$ha, P!nk, and Gaga taste the rainbow
By Rich Juzwiak

The Internet-Rap Atomization
Odd Future, Lil B, Wiz Khalifa, et al. build tiny kingdoms, and rule them
By Tom Breihan

Justin Bieber, Twitter Casanova
The Most Popular Boy in the World rules the only voting bloc that matters: pre-teen girls
By Camille Dodero

The Top Ten
From Kanye West to The Suburbs

The Personals
Industry Woes, Cultural Theories, Polite Suggestions, and Calls of Bullshit

Jordan Sargent
Miami, FL

The sooner hip-hop loses the intolerable burden of living up to some bullshit simulacrum of “realness,” the better—I’m sick of reading white folks dismissing weirder-than-usual rap for not fitting their fetishistic version of what “street” is supposed to mean. And maybe Rick Ross’s evolutionary success is a good first step: Just crank up the unattainable opulence and the struggling hustler/billion-dollar-man dichotomy to levels where it seems so transparent that it’s hard to care about boring shit like verisimilitude. He knows he’s selling a Hollywood bill of goods, so why the hell not wink at the camera, especially when it’s what turned him from a joke into an A-lister? And now that he’s actually playing to his strengths as a rapper—that bellow as a rib-nudging sales pitch, all outlandish comparisons and signifying brand-name drops—he has rendered all speculation over who-cares gossip and counterfeit Louis Vuitton shades into an obsolete joke. Hell, everybody’s fake in the eyes of the Internet, anyways.

Nate Patrin
St. Paul, MN

The unearthed tracks on the Exile on Main Street and Darkness on the Edge of Town reissues were thrilling. But I was split on the revisionist history. I wanted to hear the original, un-fucked-with recordings. Then again, if I were going to publish half-baked riffings from 30 years ago, wouldn’t I want to “complete” them? At least the authors were alive to call shots (unlike Michael Jackson). Still, the deconstructed multi-track of the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” that surfaced in November on was more revelatory than anything in the Exile package. And the un-retouched history on Dylan’s Witmark Demos was the most profound of the lot.

Will Hermes
New Paltz, NY

If a song as good as “Plundered My Soul” was indeed left for dead for 38 years, that says more about the Rolling Stones’ early-’70s headspace than any of their landmark albums ever could. Or, alternatively, if a song this good was just now pasted together to replicate Exile’s aesthetics and help pimp a reissue, that says more about what these guys may have left in the tank than any of their recent tour-souvenir studio albums ever could.

Steve Kandell
Brooklyn, NY

Plenty of people are calling 2010 a banner year for rap, but it was also a good—and diverse—year for queer music. From Bradford Cox’s narcotized r&b to the ubiquitous vamping of Nicki Minaj to Robyn’s heartbreaking dance-floor drama to Ariel Pink as Menopause Man to Janelle Monáe’s gentle retro-futurist gender-bending, it seemed that the whole of the pop world was trending toward the middle of the Kinsey Scale.

Daniel Drozdin
Pittsburgh, PA

Maybe I’m too invested in the idea that tear-the-club-up rappers should belt like top-volume M.O.P. to get fully on board with Waka Flocka Flame. Dude has hooks for days, and he can write aggro without being dumb. (“Fuck this industry/Bitch, I’m in the streets”—that’s some Clio-winning phraseology right there.) But unless he’s doing that thing where he’s screaming out his own name like blunt-force trauma onomatopoeia, he also seems to let the beats do most of the heavy lifting, the kicks and bass providing all the force as Flocka just cockily drawls his way to the point in the hook where he can yell a bit. It’s easy to go hard in the paint if you’re a lumbering Shaq-size dude and you’ve got Lex Luger as Garnett next to you in your frontcourt. And, like modern-day Shaq, this shit gets tired after about 20 minutes.

Nate Patrin
St. Paul, MN

Isn’t Taylor Swift’s big auteurist move the readymade critic’s darling it should have been? Why are Arcade Fire and the National topping out year-end lists she doesn’t even appear on? It’s not just that her record is better than their records—it’s better in all the rock-crit ways that are supposed to make you a Best-Of natural: musically broader and deeper than her last album, introspective about love and loss, a successful move into maturity from ingénue-ity. She even sings in a nasal whine that some people hate! So how come she isn’t this year’s new Dylan, or at least new Conor Oberst? Tell me it’s not because she’s blonde. Now tell me with a straight face.

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