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ASTRXL.AWARDS (2023)

Again, like last year, this is my neurodivergent, smooth-brain Zoomer opinion, so if you don't like my picks, I can't help you (and you don't like good music)...

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ASTRXL.AWARDS (2023)
ASTRXL AWARDS

ASTRXL AWARDS

Date
November 30, 2023
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9 mins
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TOP 10 TRACKS OF 2023

LFG, we're back.

Our top 10 this year will include songs released from Dec. 2022 - Nov. 2023. I need to sit with a track for at least a month before I can have my final opinions. We will only feature one artist one time on this list. 

Again, like last year, this is my neurodivergent, smooth-brain Zoomer opinion, so if you don't like my picks, I can't help you (and you don't like good music).

Without further ado let's hop into the top 10 tracks of 2023.

10) LIL UZI VERT - SUICIDE DOORS

GENRE: TRAP - POP RAP

Charleston White, on the intro to Suicide Doors, is one of my favourite samples of 2023. Regarding Uzi, he states, 'but I know he a sissified lookin' n**** that put fingernail polish on his motherf***in' nails, and wear dresses how he gon' talk about somethin', n****?'

The track is all over the place with nods to satanic imagery, the South Carolina gang Suicide Squad, the reptilian shapeshifter conspiracy, Uzi's layered dark vocal inflections, and referencing Brandon Lee from the movie, 'The Crow.' 

This track is peak 'satanic' Uzi, and his live performances of this song are next level. 

9) BABY KEEM & KENDRICK LAMAR - THE HILLBILLIES

GENRE: DRILL & WEST COAST HIP-HOP

For the second year in a row, K-Dot is making our top tracks of the year list. The Hillbillies is a banger from start to finish, with a great accompanying video featuring non-other than Tyler The Creator. 

Seeing Tyler the Creator & The Hillbillies (Kendrick + Keem) back-to-back at Flog Gnaw this year was an unbelievable experience. Every time I listen to this song, I think of it. 

8) AFROMAN - WILL YOU HELP ME REPAIR MY DOOR

GENRE: COMEDY RAP

Afroman will surprise you every once in a while with a transcendent banger that could only be described as a cultural phenomenon. On August 21st, 2022, Afroman's home was raided on false information where officers involved caused $20,000 in damages. 

In an attempt to recoup his losses, Afroman filmed the police raid and turned it into a track titled, 'Will You Help Me Repair My Door.' Gearing up for a 2024 presidential run, there's no doubt police/marijuana reform will be on top of Afroman's presidential platform.

Comedy rap made to create honest social commentary - who else but Afroman?

7) JPEGMAFIA & DANNY BROWN - LEAN BEEF PATTY

GENRE: EXPERIMENTAL HIP-HOP

I struggled to figure out which track to include from 'Scaring The Hoes,' but I gave it to Lean Beef Patty. The P.Diddy 'I Need a Girl Part 2' sped-up sample mixed with harsh basslines creates such a unique experience. 

Danny and Peggy have crafted a masterpiece with Scaring the Hoes, which continues to cement their influence in rap music, further distancing them from their contemporaries. 

Both artists are setting the bar for rap music in 2023, and I cannot wait to hear more from this duo.

6) JOEYY - GOUT

GENRE: TRAP

LEGALIZE NUCLEAR BOMBS transitions to NUCLEAR BOMBS ARE NOW LEGAL.

I don't know what to make of this track or the memes surrounding the 'Shadow Wizard Money Gang.' I guess the 'Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons' does not apply to Joeyy.

Leaving the geopolitical implications out of this song, it was on repeat constantly throughout 2023 & the bar, 'If I spent my whole bankroll, I'll affect the DOW,' has to be one of the best of 2023. Only to be rivaled by, 'Italian leather sneakers, I could have just bought a cow,' in the same song.

5) 8485 (FEAT. DRAINPUPPET) - SCRIBBLES

GENRE: DRUM & BASS - TRANCESTEP

Personal Protocol was one of my favourite projects of 2023 and was 'universally compatible' with my car's aux cord. I spent a considerable amount of time sitting behind a computer and driving to events this year, and I often listened to this project. 

8485 is one of the most engaging artists in the underground at the moment, fusing aesthetics of atmospheric drum and bass, dance-pop, and more. 

If you want to learn more about 8485, check out our interview - click here!

4) MCKINLEY DIXON - RUN, RUN, RUN

GENRE: JAZZ RAP - CONSCIOUS HIP HOP

Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!? Was one of my favourite albums from 2023 and one of the best Jazz rap projects I've ever heard. McKinley Dixon cemented his talent with this release, and based on the online discussion, it's his most critically acclaimed release. 

Run, Run, Run is a commentary on gun violence and the reality African Americans face in the United States. Time is a theme throughout this track, and in Mckinley's own words, 

'Time for me in the last couple of works is that certain marginalized groups can time travel because the stories they take from the past help them in the present and future.' 

This album feels like you're jumping through time, experiencing a diverse range of emotions in such a finite runtime. If you want more from McKinley - check out our interview with him (click here).

3) SEMATARY - BABAYAGA

GENRE: HORRORCORE - DRILL

I have a lot of normal friends in real life (happily listening to Imagine Dragons and s***), and they'll always tell me they 'listen to everything.' This notion is always laughable, especially if you frequent the depths of Bandcamp and RYM.

When I am reluctantly gifted free reign over the AUX, this is the first song from the speakers. IDK if it's morally reprehensible to show people Sematary, but I view it as 'broadening their horizons.' 

The GraveMan has been on repeat since 2022, and I love the sound/style Sematary produces. The track Babayaga is named after a Slovak folklore character, 'who steals, cooks, and eats her victims, usually children.(1)'

She looks very friendly :)

The track is a signature Sematary horrorcore song echoing his past singles off of Rainbow Bridge 3. Maximalist tracks/artists like Sematary are becoming increasingly frequent, which is scratching that itch my smooth brain needs. This track goes unbelievably hard, and there's nothing like Sematary & the Haunted Mound. 

2) 100 GECS - HOLLYWOOD BABY

GENRE: ALL OF THEM

Y'all know I love 100 Gecs - I even have the Minecraft merch from Live @ Square Garden. The Gecs are at it again with their third studio album, 10,000 Gecs, which, by all accounts, was a banger. At the time of writing, the band is campaigning for a Grammy - which honestly is deserved (but will likely be snubbed in traditional Grammy fashion). 

This album mixed some bizarre early 2000s aesthetics and samples to create an abrasive in-your-face project. This work features everything from nu-metal to ska and more horrific dated genres in between. 

I loved all of it, but Hollywood Baby stands out. The track outlines the duo's struggles with the cruel nature of Los Angeles and the psychological problems it presents. The track has the gecs firing on all cylinders with their signature chipmunk-esk vocals, which had me screaming, 'I'M GOING CRAZY,' at the top of my lungs. 

I am excited about the inevitable 100,000 Gecs release and would love to have writing credits on the project 

👉👈

1) YEULE - DAZIES 

GENRE: SHOEGAZE - NOISE POP

NGL, I was going through it when this track graced my headphones. There were two situations where I needed to let go of expectations and begin the process of loving myself again. 

Yeule dropped one of the year's most captivating records with Softscars - this thing is a masterpiece. I was blown away by every track from the album, along with its exceptional art direction and narratives. 

I had listened through Yeule's 'softscars' a few times before, though the way Dazies hit during this challenging time was something else. It's always hard to articulate how good music makes you feel because the feeling of engaging with it is indescribable.

The way this track builds is beyond captivating; there's not a misplaced note or vocal inflection across the entire track. The vocals are vulnerable and raw. The second half of the track is layered with Yeule's screams, & the way the audio is mixed it provides such a stark contrast in emotions. This track is an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish.  

I have never heard anything like this track, which is a testament to just how skilled Yeule is as an artist. I highly recommend you check out Yeule's music and other incredibly talented artists at Ninjatune

I would like to congratulate Yeule for winning COSMOS.PRESS's top track of 2023.

Last Year's Picks: 2022

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