Defend Your Ballot: Caitlin White, Pazz and Jop 2012 Contributor

Categories: Pazz & Jop

Pazz and Jop
You can't really know where you're headed unless you know where you've been. For that reason, we're taking a look back at Pazz & Jop 2012 to drill down into the ballots of contributors and voters who participated. Maybe amongst the rubble we'll find clues about what lies ahead for music lovers in 2013. Here, music writer Caitlin White defends her ballot.

See Also:
- Pazz and Jop 2012 Table of Contents

Caitlin White, are you ready to DEFEND YOUR BALLOT???

I have prepared to the best of my abilities and yes, I do believe I am ready.

Tell us who you are, where you work, who you write for and why we should trust you.

I'm Caitlin White, currently an Editorial Assistant at AOL Music but in the process of transitioning to Complex to be an EA for their site Pigeons & Planes. I also sometimes write for Noisey Music because Drew Millard lets me. You should trust me because I cry over a song at least once a day.

What song has made you cry today?

It's a song called "Queen Feel" off this EP of the same name. R&B grooves mixed with dubstep drops and the perfect mix of swag and ch'i in her confidence.

Are most of these music tears you're spilling joy- or sadness-based?

I think that the most compelling music transcends binaries. It's more of a realization of life -- both joy and sadness are mixed in that revelation. In the present moment this song gives me joy, but in the future it could definitely bring me to tears of sadness. I think that's the beauty of music, it's malleable based on the specific person's lens of listening.

That's a long way of saying "I'm very emo."

I'm very practiced at the art of explaining emo-ness in intellectual terms.

But it makes sense, given your top 10 singles and albums. Lots of FEELINGS up in those songs and albums. Dirty Projectors, Frank Ocean, Purity Ring, Bat For Lashes. How does Kendrick Lamar fit in with those? Or is the beauty of it that he doesn't?

Oh I think Kendrick fits in there perfectly. That song is about how other people have the capability of transforming our feelings, often in ways that are negative and unwanted. But I think one of the strongest things about Kendrick's album is the level of emotion he's willing to share with the listeners. These aren't club bangers or sexed-up audio stripteases -- they're mementos of his life and thoughts. That is where songs like "Backseat Freestyle" get their power -- it has raw emotion and naked want alongside the braggart rapper motif.

Not sure if you read Dan Weiss' "Defend Your Ballot," but in it he says if Kendrick didn't rap about guns none of us would be paying attention to him. Thoughts?

Well, I will just have to say I think that piece is motivated by a lot of things... but I disagree strongly.

That is your right as a God-fearing American citizen.

Forever and ever, amen.

Caitlin White Pazz and Jop
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This might be too personal, but let's talk about "Pussy Is Mine" by Miguel, whose album Kaleidoscope Dream made your list. Is that song romantic or gross?

I love that song! I have been discussing this with my friends ever since that song came out, because I think Miguel does something very interesting on it. He assumes a stance that is usually reserved for the feminine role in relationships in a lot of ways. In the song, the girl that he is with seems to have all the power and he is unsure of his position with her. He doesn't know if she's out with other people or intimately involved with them, and he's not afraid to admit how much that would hurt him. Sure, he's using the word "pussy" as a synecdoche for their relationship, but his vulnerability in that song is astonishing. I think a lot of the undertones in that song have been overshadowed by the use of the word "pussy," as it is still deemed explicit. I kind of think he did that knowingly, to cover up his vulnerability a little bit... and he also includes the part from the studio about the producers ad-libbing like "what is he doing?" and at the end he plays off the ENTIRE song like he didn't even know it was recording. A lot of interesting things going on in that song aside from the taboo word he chose.

See Also:
- Miguel Is Living The Dream

That's an interesting perspective. So you don't see it at all as some sexist ownership power play? Isn't he basically saying, "Look, we're adults, and I know you've been with other people because DUH. But you and your bad word part, they is belong to me now."

No, if anything I see it as a subversion of gender norms. Like in our society we imagine that the girl is the one sitting at home hoping for monogamy. Or, even that sexual pasts would be bothersome and sad to think about in the context of the current relationship. From my perspective, the song implies that Miguel isn't sure if she's as into this relationship as he is, that she could still be out playing the field while all he wants is to be exclusive. This is still a fairly rare perspective. And let me also just say it's about fucking time that the word "pussy" be as equally as accepted as "dick." I mean everyone assumes this song is offensive to women, but I found it empowering that he managed to use that word in the hook for a song that is certainly romantic, and not possessive or mansplained tripe.

Have you seen Miguel? He's GORGEOUS. But I guess the beautiful people feel unsure or insecure sometimes too. Speaking of beautiful people, Solange Knowles.


Exactly. Did TEAM SOLANGE even exist a year or so ago? 2012 really seemed to be the year folks stopped dismissing her as Beyonce's less talented, less popular lil sis and really started paying attention. Why do you think that is?

Well, I think it was two fold. I think that Solange stopped seeing herself as Beyonce's little sister and began to embrace her own identity. I have a little sister too and we are quite close and into the same things, and she rules. But for a long time just because I was older and a little bit more driven, I was the only one who got recognition for things. When she finally separated herself from me a little bit and pursued her own interests then she started kicking so much ass. Same thing is going on with Solange in my mind. Also Dev Hynes. I mean, the job of a producer is to get the things out of the artist that the artist can only sketch -- producers paint. He clearly did a lot of painting on the EP and it just worked. Producers should bring out the things that artists believe or think are possible, but are scared don't exist. He definitely did that for her.

See Also:
- Pazz and Jop 2012: Top Albums
- Pazz and Jop 2012: Top Singles
- Pazz and Jop 2012: Critics' Ballots
- Pazz and Jop 2012 Table of Contents

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