Happy New Year you gotdamn exuberant rap Stan. You shaker of industries. You thief. You instigator. You insular bastard. You free minded liberal. You jerkface. You friend. O Twelve is upon us, the consumerist cycle is nearing its temporary end and cold Red Stag Iced Tea’s @ the Beer Garden are making even less sense but we’re drinkin’ dem shits anyway. Must we conform to the cold? To the cycle? To it all?

Whether or not you conform, whether or not you are aware of your conformity, whether or not you actively fight the good fight against the convenience of conformance, we all, in our own special way, deal with adapting to what the modern, grand Stage presents to us. And in our corner we have bedazzling year end lists! Stimulating sales of Urban Chic apparel and over rated sneakers (and accessories ftw. boohoo, I feel so bad for how a “global economy affects a publicly traded company”)! Not to overlook meaningful family connection, with possible Bonus! reflection, packed into two PTO days (three if you’re lucky) but wait, oh damn! This year xmas (babyjeezusmas to the politically correct) lands on a Sunday?! WTF! I don’t get a day? But lets not focus on the negative, lets not be haters. It’s New Years! Huzzah! Let us celebrate the end of O Eleven and the beginning of Lucky O Twelve. Let’s hold mouses, sitting apart in togetherness, here in front of our liquid GUI’s, and try to stay focused on one gotdamn thing for more than 30 seconds.

And here I choose to be, again, spending my time complaining in my regular snarky, bitchass way, softening my language, trying to avoid grossly offending imaginary readers while still trying to keep some of the catharsis. Two Thousand And Twelve is right effin there, and I would love to think that that’s supposed to mean something. Something that’s not trying to mean something, but means something, you know? But I’m concerned.

Wait, maybe it really is a time for reflection? The calendar months helping us to process our experiences, like, um, yeah December was type foul but January? I got January locked. Might we claim progress? Noteworthy departures from the norm? Innovation? New ways of doing things adapted from our failures? Change? Obamacare?

I recognize certain changes, no doubt. Labels continue adapting to new models of revenue generation. Distant, digitally close, violent social uprisings. Nearby, emotionally fragmented, mostly peaceful protests. But, damn, maybe Lauryn was right (miss you girl), sometimes the more things change, the more things stay the same. Do we not continue to be beholden to capital E Entertainment? A disproportionate amount of our young money and mental cycles bequeathed to seldom funny sitcoms, indulgently-manipulative, stylized films and unoriginal, identity-strained music? And, in a big way, doesn’t this continue to be thanks to large, sophisticated organizations that are out to fade us with sex and assorted illusions? Pop music peddlers and their marketing minions?

Their cherished, manufactured hip-hop. An affordable, replenishable gateway to cool for benefactor corporations. That commoditized coolness that they wrap around their products. That strained relevance. Carefully pre-consumed culture, digested and reiterated through fashion and movies, with just enough edge and skin to keep our hormone stressed youth mesmerized. Alternative, controlled God replacements. Family replacements. Community replacements. Filling our recurring, confusing, frightening moments of solitude and emptiness. That empty, sinking feeling right before you sleep, so you keep the TV on to fill the silence. That self-awareness when you’re reading something you’re completely uninterested in (like this), so you put music on, hoping it will motivate you, keep you from giving up.

But don’t get me wrong Gawd, I’m into it. I dig it man. I sort of have to. Do you have any idea how much time I spend looking for meaningful somethings or others? For good music? Interesting movies? Grand writing? Why not let these focused orgs help me out? And while they’re at it funnel some benefit to themselves? Right? Wrong? Problem is, I rather listen to Ceschi and David sing into their laptop cam than most the ish that gets stuffed down my gmail.

Anyway, the winter season definitely brings some tangible change, at least in QU it does. Snow. And gotdamn sleet. And along with it, awkward walks to the subway as you try to not bust your ass in the dirty bus slush. The good thing is that my preoccupation with the weather is not will we survive this?, like some shelter-challenged ancestor, but, will I make it in time to the mall to exchange this sweater? The search for that special sweater that expresses the truest Self that I can conjure continues. Garbstore, why do you let me down so? Lana Del Rey knows this.

Speaking of malls and sweaters, this is the season growth sales targets are monitored closely. Strategies are then revised. The new year is a good time for fresh starts, or so I hear. This time, last year, The Source Magazine announced a new Managing Editor, by way of an industry lawyer turned blogger. Yes, I said blogger. Lets take a sec to appreciate the age of the musically inclined blogspotter turned wordpresser. The ultimate, exuberant rap fan. The dedicated observer. The careful listener. The opinionated, sometimes good worded, hulksharer. Although what comes natural to some, others must achieve by sporting a thesaurus weave, sport it they do. And some do it better than others. The self-appointed interpreter of cool. The translator of culture. The embassy of….well, you get the point.

Some are so captivated by this cool potential that they think it can propel them into something other than themselves. Something more meaningful. But enough about me, how do you do? Kidding, of course. My cool is formidable, unfuckwidable. My life is deeply, seriously, meaningful, but in a confidently nonchalant type of way, like Gosling in the tragicomedy Crazy Stupid Love. I swear it is! I’ve co-signed myself to prove it. Or maybe my life is more like Gosling in Drive. Just a random buff dude dealing with love in a heroically psychotic type of way, listening to retro chillwave all along the way. By the way, I don’t know what chillwave is, it just fits the music in that movie, in my head. Wait, wait, you know what? I’m more like a mix of Gosling in Half Nelson, teaching the Dialectic method to children and Gosling in The Believer, a self-hating jew that becomes a Nazi. Yep, that’s it. In any case, a very large corporation keeps on begging me to participate in its identity marketplace. I can’t say who but lets just say its sort of like a Book full of Facials. Although I doubt they will, if things work out, I’ll drop the big news later.

Where was we? Oh yeah, also notable at the turn of Two Thousand and Ten was Billboard Magazine’s placement of former rap magazine chieftain Danyel Smith into the executive editor position. And, over here, we have a leading contributor to a popular aggregative blog with a clear hip-hop lineage. So yeah, lots of adapting, blogging and co-opting. It’s been a fun year. Shall we toast to these pockets of change? To the gargantuan number of superduperfresh rss headlines they have produced? To the more relatable perspectives that they have brought? They have, haven’t they? Let’s count the linkbacks…

Question: Do contemporary capitalists need be attuned to hip-hop in order to perpetuate their revenue generating machines? Does the Pepsi marketing director, aka mass psychobabbler, read these sites to stay on top of things? Can they, so easily, issue a check, and alter our perception? Sponsor a show? Fund a label? Have a studio built? And thereafters proudly retreat into their lairs to spark a knockoff Cuban as they stroll their wrap around terrace overlooking Gramercy Park? Can they so easily purchase relevance?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that there is some cashmoney floating around. And that these media outlets exist. We all have rents to pay and interestingly enough there is a fine tuning of coverage and an embrace of the music that has taken place. But at the same time, a lot of it is a little limpbizkit. A little insincere and nonsensical. And the financial benefit is likley skewed to, ahem, few.

Anyfuckingway, lets go get bent. Don’t forget, every year is the year of the exuberant rap fan. There is good honest music out there if you know where to look. And, if we have influence enough to re-shape industries and force the resignation of Funnel Inc.’s into our preferred methods of consumption, then there is still hope. Don’t let them overtake our tools. And it’s ok to voice concern, it doesn’t make you a hater, it makes you critical. It means you give a shit. And although I joke of relating to your world solely through Entertainment media, I haven’t given up on it entirely either. I get something from it, it just has to be good, balanced.

Shouts to the unmolested rappers, doing what they do in spite of. Oh, and here’s your gotdam year end list. We’ve been assorting it for the past 300 days or so. Not everything on there is great, but most of it is good. And all of it is notable. If not because of the way it sounds, than for the perspective it brings or for the predicament that it reveals. Peace.