Defend Your Ballot: Rembert Browne, Pazz and Jop 2012 Contributor
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, Grantland staff writer Rembert Browne defends his ballot.
Source 2 Chainz: The only writer who voted for him was Rembert.
Rembert Browne. Who are you, how many times have you voted in Pazz & Jop, and why on earth should we trust you?
I'm Rembert. I'm a staff writer at Grantland. I'm also a New York inhabiter and Atlanta native and mid-twenty-something and all that. My first time voting in Pazz and Jop And I never said you should trust me.
But I don't think I disappoint. When given the space to elaborate.
Never. Well, the first question I have is simple: How does it feel to be literally the only person who voted for 2 Chainz?
I'm proud. It's also proof that I don't think of myself as a music journalist, yet. I guess, because 2012 was my first full year of, what they call, "professional" music writing, I still am in the mindset of a consumer and fan first, "critic" second. And I don't know how long that's going to last, but right now I'm happy it exists. And I think my list, reflective of a year of having my brain be all over the place, pushing myself to write about all types of things, shows how scattered, imperfect of a year it was for me.
What went into your decision making? Things you listened to the most?
Albums I surprised myself in coming back to, after the initial rush period. That was a big indicator for me in what were my albums of the year, beyond simply the ones I enjoyed. Because I enjoyed a lot more than ten albums. But it was that surprise factor of not growing tired of an album that really did it for me.
That seems to be the recurring thing most people have told me. It's a replay factor. The only selection in your Top 10 that's not either rap or R&B is Japandroids. What do you think got them that spot?
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Weird/great story: I'd listened to their album, and liked it, because a few of my co-workers (Chris Ryan, Andy Greenwald, Robert Mays) all raved about it. Really liked it, but then sat it down. I realized later that I never listened to it in the appropriate setting (never loud, never driving in a car). Anyway, a few months after it came out, Pitchfork writer/occasional Grantland contributer Ian Cohen went on this weird Tweeting spree where he listed his ten (or maybe fifteen) favorite moments from the Japandroids album, but super specific, listing the time stamp ranges that were the "best moments." So I listened to all of them. And he was right. And I listened to them super loud. And then I went back and listened to the album really loud. And then couldn't stop listening to it. And that's my Japandroids story.
That was a good Japandroids story!
It's not the worst one, I know that much.
Were you surprised that Big Boi's record didn't get more love from the public?
I was. I really was. And I still don't really know why, because I can't accept that it was "too experimental." "In The A" didn't become the banger that they thought it would be, and I think since that became some what of a letdown, people lost interest in the album
What was it about the album that you gravitated towards?
To me, it was the only direction Big Boi could go, trying new things with his voice, collaborating with different artists, experimenting with different sounds. I think it's how he saves himself from ending up like Andre, bored and uninspired. But beyond all of the philosophical stuff, there are songs on there I still listen to, and, like the first solo album, I can listen to it from front to back and it's a bit of a rollercoaster.
You wrote a pretty ballin' post for Grantland all about the year in 2 Chainz. I feel like no rapper really encapsulates 2012 more than that guy.
Yeah, that was one of those things that, in my head, was nineteen times shorter than it ended up being. Because not even I had any idea he did that much.
How long did that take you, by the way?
About seven hours, between finding all of the stuff, typing it up, and having all that take place on a LAX layover and then on a plane back to NYC.
Let's talk about the appeal of 2 Chainz. Is it really just his ability to guest on anything and everything?
I guess my feelings on 2 Chainz all boil down to the seemingly effortless reemergence, which is extra special for me, because I actually remember Tity Boi quite well.
Do you remember the first time you heard Tity Boi?
I remember his verse on Ludacris' "We Got," from Chicken-N-Beer. Because there's the line "and I'm throwing techs like an NBA ref /I got all gold guns like they came from Iraq."
Only 2 Chainz could sell that line.
That was a point of laughter amongst my boys and I whenever that album came out, 2003 I think.
Were you in Atlanta then?
Yeah, that was high school. In Atlanta, the best place on Earth. That was an incredible time to be from Atlanta, my high school years, because we owned the music industry. And when I went off to college, all the music was Atlanta music, and I was the Atlanta kid, so that was beautiful.
How do you feel that shaped the taste you have today? Where's the love for Future on your ballot?!
I like Future. I like Pluto. When "Turn Out The Lights" came out, though, I thought he was done. I will never figure out how that song caught on. That's one of my great life mysteries. But I do like Future.
The growth of Future's popularity this year has been one of the most fascinating things to follow in music.
I'll never forget being at the XXL Freshman show in 2012 in April, and seeing him come out with the Astronaut.