Catching Up

  1. Three 6 Mafia ft. Young Buck, Eightball & MJG, “Stay Fly” (Hypnotize Minds/Columbia).
  2. Dem Franchise Boyz ft. Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat & Bow Wow, “I Think They Like Me Remix” (So So Def).
  3. Young Jeezy ft. Jay-Z & Fat Joe, “Go Crazy (Remix)” (Def Jam).
  4. Gucci Mane ft. Young Jeezy, “Icy” (Big Cat).
  5. Missy Elliott, “Partytime” (Goldmind/ Elektra).
  6. Bigg Jus, “Supa Nigga” (Mush).
  7. Blue Scholars, “The Long March” (Blue Scholars).
  8. Common Market, “Connect For” (Sciontific).
  9. Jin & His Pops, “Bridging the Gap Freestyle” (mixtape).
  10. Eagle Voice Band ft. Bob Brozman, “Lau Ga Ki Tara Papara Ta” (Riverboat).
  11. Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate, “Kala” (World Circuit/Nonesuch).
  12. The White Stripes, “Walking With a Ghost” (V2).
  13. The Veronicas, “4ever” (Warner Bros.).
  14. Four Tet, “And Then Patterns” (Domino).
  15. Steve Reid Ensemble, “Which One?” (Soul Jazz).
  16. David Murray 4tet & Strings, “Waltz Again” (Justin Time).
  17. E.S.T. (Esbjorn Svensson Trio), “Eighty-Eight Days in My Veins” (215).

Only a fool tries to keep up with everything in a given year. For one thing, it’s always been impossible and has only gotten harder in the past decade and a half; for another, who has the time or the energy? Nevertheless, the last couple months of the year are scramble time for music writers, who are generally expected to have figured out our favorite albums of the year before fall has finished. Mine and those of other regular SW contributors will be mentioned in next week’s Year in Music extravaganza; do tune in. Still, going through the lists that have emerged so far leaves me with the same sort of unease I always have around this time—fuck, missed that one, and those other eight as well.

A bunch I might have missed are on this mix, particularly the opener. Since I’m no one’s idea of a rap specialist, I tend to be late in picking up on hot singles or albums, which is one reason it took me till early this month to hear “Stay Fly,” the other being that Nate Patrin said it was his favorite single of the year. It’s mine now, too. “Stay Fly” gleams like an exact cross between diamonds and neon, and from the squealing little guitar lick buried in the background to the monolithic synthed-up vocal hook, musically it’s as post-rave as it is post-crunk, Miss E . . . So Addictive produced by Daft Punk, a combination tailor-made for my sensibility. I’m just glad I didn’t wait until it placed second in online zine Stylus‘ year-end singles list to find out.

The Missy Elliott and Four Tet cuts, by contrast, are from records I’ve long liked but for some reason hadn’t yet cherry-picked. But aside from locals Common Market and Blue Scholars, most of the hip-hop picks were gleaned from other folks’ recommendations, especially Sasha Frere-Jones, the New Yorker critic who keeps his evolving favorites list at his self-URL’ed blog. Most of the rest I heard before anyone told me to, particularly the closing trio of jazz cuts, the heady, baroque-stringed David Murray being my favorite. I’m sure I missed plenty else this year. But as far as choosing mix-worthy 2005 songs, I’m content to leave it here for now, and to lie in wait for what 2006 has in store.