I don't listen to music while I write. Frankly, I don't see how anyone can. Since all style is rhythm, and since I cannot write anything that's as clear and simple and still as the truth, needing instead to perpetrate my own Stomp!
-style foolishness across the page — I can't be bumping, say, OJ da Juiceman while drafting. I have to apportion all my ear-strength for sussing out the short-long-short-short issuing from the poor soul trapped behind the walls of my skull.
That being said, I listened to music whenever I wasn't writing I Am Sorry to Think That I Have Raised a Timid Son. I'm always listening to music. Is it good music? Jesus, no. It's god-awful music. I understand this, and I take full ownership of the fact. I also understand that there are about seven million white dudes with glasses just wishing that they had this platform from which to broadcast their discretionary taste and consumptive self-worth. They'd post a bunch of Bobby Womack B-sides or something. But me, I use bad pop as my smelling salt. I need pop songs to get me up for the difficult task at hand. Which, in this case, was the time that mortared my writing sessions. This time is also sometimes referred to as Life.
So, this list is garbage. Absolutely. But I fuel myself by chewing over such garbage, goat-like, so that I might climb this craggy precipice all bad-bearded and wonky-eyed.
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Prelude: "Doo Doo" by Troy Ave
This is the song that is currently playing in my head as I plug my ears with my index fingers and close my eyes against the (certainly, certainly forthcoming) bad reviews. Juvenile, vaguely sociopathic, and just goddamn great.
1. "We Ready" by Archie
Required listening for anyone with a debut debuting. Picture it: you're standing in a tunnel as it fills up with dry ice; you're knocking your helmeted head, hopping with adrenaline; you’re running full-speed, bursting through the stretched banner — K.R.! — and then you’re hauling ass down the sideline of a stadium that is 100 percent devoid of any fans.
I don't think he got there, but may we all be so bold in our dreams as Archie. May we all one day make a million dollars and stand on the top of it.
2. "Ante Up" by M.O.P.
My favorite song to listen to on the bus to the ninth grade. Possibly my favorite song still. A good one to follow Archie with. If you're debuting your debut, and they do not give you the accolades, then it's like, "Well, sirs, I suppose that I have no recourse but to take your accolades!"
3. "Boogie Woogie Wu" by Insane Clown Posse
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Shoutout to the juggalo family, who were gracious-enough hosts at the 2010 Gathering of the Juggalos.
4. "I'm Different" by 2 Chainz
I would be remiss.
5. "Esa Morena" by DJ Laz
This song rhymes with my Miami adolescence. Poolside dance parties, croquetas and Materva, Cuban mothers looking on with the twitchy vigilance of roosted birds, me needing to be physically scraped off of a chaise lounge in order to participate.
6. "Dancing on My Own" by Robyn
Thus, I grew up to do a lot of this.
7. "One More" by Elliphant
This is basically the same song as the Sam Smith one that won all those Grammys. Except it didn't completely rip off Tom Petty. Recommended for late-night subway weeping.
8. "Sink, Florida, Sink" by Against Me!
Tom Petty is from Gainesville, Florida. Against Me! is also from Gainesville, Florida. I went to college in Gainesville, Florida. The best description of Gainesville, Florida, I have ever read is this one, by William Bowers:
In the prefab communities, you suffer the tedium of monoculture and the parade of aggressive dog-walkers. In the hood, you suffer, well, the hood. Just the stretch from my house to the nearest mini-grocery is a gauntlet of anarchist graffiti, heartbreaking litter, and equal-opportunity savagery. I’ve been robbed twice (once during the writing of this article and once by a crackhead named, of all things, Bill Gates), and my neighbors (themselves all drug-addled) have been robbed and beaten. My bikes, stereos, and porch furniture are pilfered with seasonal regularity. The haggard prostitutes on my jogging route regularly flash me. The streets vibrate with angry mechanical music that roars from cars steered with one clenched hand.
Outro: "We Takin' Over" by DJ Khaled
My sister Karen and I made a promise many years ago that if we both made it — if, one day, we both had books out — we would force the world to listen to this song. Kayron — WE DID IT!