Best Albums of 2013: A Love Letter to Music

*Open the car door, sit, turn the ignition, pop in CD, drive off for the night*

This very sequence of events happens every night of which I go out, whether it be to hang out with some friends, running errands or just to take a ride.  It’s one of those therapeutic experiences that I find to be unmatched by most other aspects of my life. And it seems so simple to me. It’s just me, my car, my music and the road of which sometimes has no destination. Pop in the CD, hop in the car and even for just five minutes, I’m exactly where I want to be. Some say solitude is bliss, but I’m under the belief that solitude with music is the one true bliss in life.

As time has passed, the music of which I listen to has become more and more a part of me than anything else in my life. I think when people listen to music, they develop their own personalities within the confines of sound and words. It’s a world of which only you and you alone know about. It seldom can be articulated verbally or physically. It’s just one of those things, the romance between you and the music. It’s a marriage that never ends as long as you’re alive. Just know this, you’re never alone as long as you have music. Within a song, you can envision who you want to be and how you want your life to be. Sure, it’s saddening when you come back to reality, but reality, like romances, is full of sad times. It’s just how it is. Music is the romance that never ends. It’s a weird form of marriage that few ever recognize.

And sure that sounds kind of sad, being married to music and all, but it’s true. Earlier this summer, I found myself going through my dad’s CD collection. To my understanding, my father is an avid fan of the 90’s slow jam. There’s something about the sound of Boyz II Men, TLC and R.Kelly makes his musical taste buds explode. This is something I’ve come to understand and even inherit from him over time. In my findings, I also noticed the wide array of 90’s hip hop classics that he had in the collection. Whether they belong to my brothers or not. My early love for 90’s Hip Hop had made much more sense from there. I found copies of classics like Ready to Die, Doggystyle, 36 Chambers and even No Way Out. Seeing this collection of music had inspired me to start my own collection. So, over the past few months, after being a strong advocate for piracy, I began purchasing CD’s. I raided local record stores in pursuit for my favorites and even the albums I’d never heard before. Although, the compact disc seems to be a dying source of music listening, my persistence never wavered. I feel as though obtaining a physical copy of an album adds to the romance I had been previously referring to.

My generation’s way of listening to music has been primarily through downloading and streaming for free. The effort from todays average listener is non-existent. It’s much easier to hit the fast forward or skip button nowadays, especially when you don’t spend hard-earned cash on an album. When you purchase an album, there’s a certain commitment you’re making to it. It’s hard to give up on something when you invest in it. That’s why when a coach or player in a professional sport stinks up the place, the owner doesn’t pull the trigger on him until it becomes unbearable. That owner invested his money into this guy, he has to live with the decision and give his investment a fair shake. If coaches and players played professionally for free, there would be hiring and firing every week. Long story short, I believe my experimentation with purchasing albums has brought me greater appreciation for music.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again, music is a special thing. I’d like to think I now fully understand it’s role in my life but honestly I don’t think I ever will. My “romance” with music is like a fine wine, it ages better over time. The more and more I listen, I break down walls that introduce me to new experiences. Its much more than sound, it’s life. There is no one song ever that defines life, nor is there one album. It takes time to build that type of experience with music. There are many worlds out there that exist through music. Worlds created by trailblazers  of the past like the late, great Lou Reed to the modern, never settling artistry of  an Arcade Fire or Kanye West. Regardless of the bullshit we see in the news and reviews, every bit of music still means something to someone out there. An album could mean nothing to a critic over at Rolling Stone or Pitchfork but mean everything to a 14-year-old boy dealing with teenage problems. Earlier this year, Chance the Rapper claimed that “everybody’s somebody’s everything, nobody’s nothing.” I believe this notion applies with music. There isn’t a record out there that means nothing to every single one of us. At 20 years old, I understand that I will go many places, meet many people, experience many things and my life will change over time. Things will come and go but music will always be present. Never wavering. There is no question, music will always remain present.

Long live 2013.

BEST ALBUMS OF 2013

Introduction      30-26        25-21      20-16    15-11   10    9    8    7   6    5    4    3   2   1

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