As the calamity of oh-six wraps to a close, we’re all breathing a sigh of relief and lighting a sage twig (or whatever) in the hopes that the next year will bring as much good music as much-needed positivity to the fractured little planet we call Earth. And so, when called upon by the big guys upstairs (our publishers, not, like, the gods) to polish off our last issue of the year, we thought we’d put conventional wisdom on pause and get out there with the stuff. A few months ago, cover star Mavado made a misspelled debut (“Movado!”) in our Gen F section. We’ve been watching dude since then, as his brand of eerie, spaced-out dancehall shook the airwaves and dancefloors from Kingston to Boston-another layer in the wildly undulating Jello mold that is dancehall, circa 2006. Will Welch went down to Mavado’s Kingston neighborhood-Cassava Piece-to try and better understand the spookiness, the genius of the stitched-up artist in full black. Fellow cover stars Vietnam weren’t an obvious choice for us-the controversial dirtball rockers of yore, full of venom and wielding an axe to grind-until we listened to their new album, appropriately titled, Vietnam. We decided then and there that the bros had been shortchanged by the listening public, and that it was time to get ears tuned to some serious jams. They may not like shaving, but they sure can pound one out!
We also used the waning glow of 2006 to look back on two legends. Carl Craig has been constantly reinventing his sound since forever and this year marks some of his best material to date-Edwin “Stats” Houghton got a glimpse of the maestro’s dark side. And Jay Dilla passed a few months ago but we thought it best to honor him at the end of the year, a time when we tally the wins and losses. By now, you’ve heard how Dilla was “a genius” by damn near everyone ever, but our special Vinyl Archeology gets specific about the moments and the madness that made Dilla’s work so unique. In the way of visual heaters: Deanne Cheuk turned her mind inside out to illustrate the lyrics of Joanna Newsom’s new album, and ace-in-the-hole lenswoman Liz Johnson Artur took the chunnel to Paris and snapped the wyld stylings of Parisian Sapeurs. Just to round it out, we’ve got a hefty portfolio from photographer Joshua Wildman illustrating the lonely landscape of clubs after the lights go down. I’m not gonna lie-it’s a weird, dark, unconventional issue, hopefully an appropriate bookend for what’s been a weird, dark, unconventional year. We’re not gonna sign off with Best Of lists or any of that magazineish hoohah-instead, we’re gonna take this time to look up, out and ahead towards the crazily blinding light of all that ’07 has in store. See you then.