A Year in Music: Naomi Zeichner

December 22, 2011

It's difficult to differentiate a year in music from just a year. Beyonce exists because we hear her at the gym, Bill Callahan is important because he sings about America while we're abroad, the first time we heard Frank Ocean it was in a kitchen and underwhelming, etc. To us, music exists empirically and anecdotally, not individually and clinically. In that spirit, to wind down the year, five FADER editors sum up their year through music. Or maybe they sum up music through their year. However you want to put it. Today is our online editor Naomi Zeichner, check back each day this week for more.

The emojis I text messaged to Lil B in 2011 are the red balloon, the winky ghost, the CD-R, the thankful prayer hands and the blushing smile. The last time we spoke, in November, he talked mostly about poop and pooping. It was hard to tell if his impulse to do that was an example of his bountiful, manic storytelling or his real, normal life. We've only met once, this year at the FADER FORT in Austin. I sounded really horrible, after a week of yelling over music non-stop to who knows who and kicking up dry dirt, I guess into my throat. When B showed up, he sat in a parked car for an hour. Later, after B finished his headlining set, Diddy performed. I stood so close to his back, just behind the stage. He did "Mo Money Mo Problems" and it was heart-stopping great. Earlier in the same day I met Big Boi, who I've felt loved by for more years than I've spent with anyone who is not my mom, dad or brother. When I revisit how that moment felt, via the snapshot Justin Kay captured (thanks), I can't explain it any better than saying that everyone deserves to align themselves with a family of souls they think are good and that for a second, I felt close to home. At the end of the night, with a voice like I'd smoked a pack of menthols every day of my life, I interviewed Lil B in an army-green pop-up tent. For months I'd really wanted to know which weights he lifts, whether he'd ever done yoga and what he ate for breakfast, so I asked him, "How do you keep your body healthy?" He said he drinks water and tries to keep his binge eating in check. I think that's solid advice.

I listened to a ton of records this year, but what stands out are the brief and intimate sessions I've had with artists I admire. I took my shoes off in Clams Casino's New Jersey attic studio. He showed me how he kept track of the immense library of sounds he'd been keeping on his tower PC, which crashed a couple weeks after my visit. I waited in the rain for Action Bronson outside the Flushing library in Queens, and then we ate chocolate that had pop rocks in it and talked about feeling lonely.

I met ASAP Rocky in Harlem and noticed he was wearing the same boxer briefs as all his friends, maybe taken fresh from a family pack. Together, everyone ASAP fawned over a kid who heroically jumped from the top of a play structure roof straight to the ground. Hours later in an upstairs apartment, Rocky turned the lights on for a kid playing with toy cars in the dark. This year I moved to the best apartment I've ever lived in with my boyfriend and for dinner we ate a lot of soups. More or less once in every season, he took me to Vermont, where he's from. In late summer we went tubing in a low, slow-moving river. A month later, that river and the towns around it got disastrously flooded by Hurricane Irene. In the spring, we hiked in a park near the Canadian border and got swarmed by hungry black flies. I got a huge bite on my collarbone. When it was fresh, Kreayshawn asked me if it was a hickey. Seven months later, I still have a scar. Noticing the discoloration, my boyfriend said that I must have sensitive skin, like my sensitive nose and sensitive heart. I am glad we are getting to know each other.

In October I went to Crown Heights to visit Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire. He talked about how much he appreciates his old friends and why new ones freak him out. Ex likes to chill at home and get fucked up and color more than he likes to do other stuff. So do I. Coloring well is hard, it requires making a lot of choices, good planning and the patience to see a plan through its end. Exquire colors very well, and competitively. That day, he seemed a little frustrated that no one else can keep up. Since last January, Facebook has been redesigned; now it looks more like Tumblr. Twitter has been redesigned; now it looks more like Myspace. Google has been redesigned again; now it looks even icier. I read Jennifer Egan's novel A Visit From the Goon Squad. In its final near-future chapter, the whole music industry is supported by babies pointing at iPhone-like devices. I see babies on the D train every morning, happily swiping at iPhones. I sent my first email in second grade. I wonder if I'll be able to keep up.

This year when I was listening to music, out of three times I was listening to Future, a blessed junior link in the Dungeon Family chain. Drawing only from the other 66% (mostly: the Girls album when people came over for dinner, Vybz Kartel's "Half on a Baby" when I was hungover on the train, James Blake’s Radio 1 Essential Mix on Sundays and Salute Me or Shoot Me 3 while I tried to work faster), 3Ball MTY's "Intentalo (Me Prende)" was the song I listened to the most. I hope that it is the beginning of what global pop music will sound like in the next decade. In 2012 I'd like to bring my Spanish from beginning intermediate to start-up professional, and I hope my landlords decide not to sell my building to developers, so that I can hang more stuff on my walls.

A Year in Music: Naomi Zeichner