by Khalid Salaam

Best Play — Mario Chalmers’ buzzer-beater in the NCAA College Basketball Championship

Best Game — Game 7, Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Celtics/Cavs

Story of the Year — Presidential Election

It’s obvious that Barack Obama’s win was a monumental moment in American history. It’s bigger than landing on the moon and on par with what we’ve learned in the history books about this country. It is simply amazing. But even with all that said I flirted with the idea of saying it is the recession that defines 2008. This is an unavoidable story. Every week thousands of people are laid off and families left to fend for themselves. Thrift stores and food banks are seeing record turn-outs, prices of non-negotiable items are going through the roof and government agencies knocking down Barack Obamaessential programs like domino’s has give many people fear. People are struggling at dangerous and historic levels and a sure end is not in sight. Lost in all the brouhaha and worry for Wall St. and the auto industry is the fact that the media industry is literally struggling for its survival. Particularly newspapers, which are no joke going the way of the dinosaur. It’s taken on an epic, avalanche type effect where people can see the trouble brewing, hear it coming and even see it coming. And still cannot get out the way. And these are not small town or non descript publications we’re talking about. Just last week The Detroit Free Press announced that they were no longer offering home delivery service. Papers in Denver and other large metro areas are withering on the vine and facing not just cut but elimination of their very existence. Magazines aren’t much better as ad dollars have shrunken so have editorial staffs and well developed, interesting and important journalism as a concept is looking like a thing of the past. Media companies are already trying to figure out how to balance the emergence of the internet with print relevance but when everyone’s money got funny in September things have gone to panic mode. Now obviously I’m not anti-internet but I do fear for a future in which news and information gathering becomes something based entirely upon its financial potential. Something that makes it easy extremely easy for exploitation and self-interest to thrive. We’re in for a fight and those unprepared are going to end up in hurting.

Album Of The Year — Ni**er (Nas)
This was by far the easiest category to figure out. It was a no-brainer. Seriously there’s not even a close second.

Songs Of The Year:
Ni**er (The Slave and The Master) — Nas
My President — Young Jeezy/Nas
Soldier — Erykah Badu
Can You Feel Me — Killer Mike
I Decided — Solange Knowles

Performance Of The Year — Glow In The Dark Tour
Kanye West, Madison Square Garden

Don’t like the new album but the show he put on in NY in the spring was legendary.

Person Of the Year — Barack Obama
Look… regardless of how you feel about him or whether you voted for him you have to give him his props. He ran a fantastic and damn near error free campaign against a formidable opponent under what can only be stated as hellified odds. He’s no messiah but I’m interested in what comes next from a man who has shown himself to be a really smart tactician. (Allowing Evangelical Rick Warren to speak during the inauguration is a bad look though)

TV Show Of The Year — Dog Whisperer
Yes, really. As someone who has a fascination with members of the animal kingdom, I have to acknowledge this guys talent. Cesar Milan’s pimp hand is really strong.

Movie Of The Year — The Dark Knight
The truth is all of the so called movie critics who vote on the Academy Awards don’t seem to have the balls and/or the insight to understand how to properly judge movies. So they stay away from opinions that might get them exiled from the rarified air-filled rooms they exist in. Too bad because this is one time where it’s so obvious that for them to go away from this makes them look weak. The Dark Knight Movie of the Yearis without a doubt the most powerful, most interesting and most important cinematic addition of the last 12 months. That the movie is an adaptation of a comic book should in no way have any bearings on how this movie is judged. Too often, period pieces and over-dramatized biopics steal nominations away from worthy contenders. This movie brought an emotionally grounded perspective of urban plight, attached a hi-tech and realistic visual landscape to it and filtered that through a group of actors on their A game. Not only was Heath Ledger’s role of the Joker an absolute revelation (and it matched the hype, which almost never happens) but Christian Bale’s portrayal as Batman and his realization that the line between good and evil is relative at even the microscopic level was amazing. He straight nailed it. Best movie? Whatever dude. The question is this. Is it in your all-time Top 20? Because it’s in mine.

Sneaker Of The Year — Hyperdunk
Just when I was starting to get tired of retro’s too.

Verse Of The Year

“Black President” — Nas
Say a prayer for, “Do we have to?”
You ain’t right, Jeremiah Wrong pastor
In love with a slave master
Sincerely yours, USA’s most brave rapper
Jesse carjacker, Uncle Tom kidnapper
Ask around, Bentley Coupe off the Richter
Bitch called Life, I pimped her, WHAT?
Politics, politricks, Klan shooter
Deacon for defense, progress producer
Nothing on the stove, a survival booster
Gotta DO what we gotta DO
We ain’t got no governors comin through to help!
Anything we need done, gotta do for self
New, improved JFK on the way
It ain’t the 60s’ again, ni**as ain’t hippies again
We ain’t fallin for the same traps
Standin on the balconies, where they shot the King at
McCain got apologies, ain’t nobody hearin that
People need HONESTY!

Funniest Moment – Shoe Attack
I’m saying. When that Iraqi journalist threw not one but two shoes at Pres. Bush I mean c’mon. That was awesome.

Best Addition To Pop Culture — Sarah Palin
Hate her or love her or hate her, whatever. Ten, 20 years from now we’ll still remember her strange brand of folksy ignorance. Who can ever forget the Katie Couric interview, her refusal to answer questions during the VP debate and that winking tick she displayed. A true hustler in every sense of the word, who ran the most BS campaign in my lifetime. See you in 2012, clown.

Most Overused Word or Phrase — Swagger
Since when did substance over style become this accepted? This important? It’s at the point now where if I hear a dude use this phrase more than twice in a conversation I just assume he’s pillow-biter. Word.

This Year’s Sign That We Might Actually Be In the Last Days – Wal-Mart Incident
When news broke last month of the stampede at a Long Island, N.Y. Wal-Mart that resulted in the death of a security guard I was heartbroken. But when details later came out saying that after the initial tragedy Wal-Mart employees and the cops ordered people out of the store, and several customers complained, I was shocked. Their complaint was that they had been waiting for hours to get in and still wanted to shop. Knowing full well what happened.

Best Documentary — Trouble The Water
An account of two Hurricane Katrina survivors from their personal viewpoint and video footage. Frank, scary and emotionally charged as anything you’ve seen in a long time.

Most Random Thing I Noticed This Year — Non Matching Ties and Pocket Squares
At first I was going to point out the dudes sagging size 30 jeans but I figured that was too easy. Dudes purposely wearing contrasting ties and pocket squares though, that is truly puzzling. Yeah its different but different doesn’t always means it’s good.