Monday, December 22nd, 2008 at 3:32 pm  |  91 responses

2008 Year In Review

The Year Of All Years.

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.

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  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Word on the swagger overuse. Isn’t using the phrase swagger jacking in itself? I feel so old. And confused.

  • awesomepossum

    This felt short…

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ Moose

    Nice writeup of the year, especially on the Obama part. As a person who volunteered for the campaign, I have to say that it was near-flawless and very well run and organized.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Big Man

    I can’t get into that Nas album.
    This is going to sound bad, but why does he always pick such horrible beats?
    I’m a down south boy, I need the production to match the lyrics. And Nas has a history of picking ridiculously bad beats. Not always, but often enought that his albums suffer.

  • http://www.bbaxn.com Darksaber

    Great Review Kha. Could we like get a few others from the slamcrew? I don’t wanna be greedy, but i’d REALLY love to read what Lang, Omar or Mutoni thought of ’08. They could even use your categories to keep things simple.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ Moose

    And I agree with the ECF Game 7 call. Paul Pierce is . . . amazing. And a nomination for best play/series of plays: Game 1 of the NBA Finals, when Pierce came back from the locker room to hit back to back threes. Incredible.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    you’re right Big man. You do sound bad

  • Captain America

    The Celtics-Hawks playoff series was better.

  • Captain America

    Don’t like Barack but kudos for a great campaign. Now comes the hard part….Selecting Warren was a stroke of political genius. How many books has Warren sold? Answer: millions.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Izzo

    Untitled was definitely the best hip hop album,Santogold was some good sh*t too and a close-ish second.But Nas definitely owned it this year.Q-Tip’s thing was nice too.

  • Captain America

    Nas has also contributed to other artists in stellar fashion in ’08.

  • http://www.slamonline.com mat smith

    politricks, is a word stolen from the master of lyrics, Zack De La Rocha, no one touches him, get One Day As A Lion, kills EVERYTHING!

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Rising Down was not a close second? Come on, Kha….

  • Ken

    If the “formidable opponent” Obama faced was racism and history, then I agree. If, however, you were referring to McCain, then I would have to disagree. McCain was a very weak opponent for several reasons: he wasn’t conservative enough to energize the Republican base, he didn’t have enough money because of the public financing option, he was running under the same party and policies as Bush (who had historically unpopular numbers this year), and his VP pick was ill-thought out and a liability. I’m not taking away from what Obama did, because I do think it was historic and he fought a good fight. I’m just saying that calling McCain a “formidable opponent” is overstating things.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Izzo

    TAD:Rising Down was a close second.Santogold was third.I’ve been thinking in nothing but lists for the past few days…..

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    TV on the Radio.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Izzo

    Dear Science was the sh*t.Also the Black Keys’ “Attack and Release” was really good.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    formidable opponent meaning mccain (yes he ran a bad campaign but he also has years of experience and name recognition) and the republican machine in general.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Khalid Salaam doesn’t care about white people.

  • Bostwik

    Mario Chalmers robbed me of $500 by making that shot.

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    Could we get an explanation of “Substance over style” remark on the use of the word ‘swagger’? I don’t disagree, even Bill Simmons uses the word now, which means it’s gone the way of ‘bling bling.’ Also, while your pick for game of the year was good, I’m inclined to go with game 1 Spurs v. Suns. 2OT with TD hitting the buzzer-beating 3?

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Big Man

    Khalid and everybody
    So, none of y’all found the beats on Nas’s album lacking?
    Why can’t Nas be more like Andre 3K?
    That cat rarely picks a wack beat and never spits a wack rhyme.
    Just saying.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Tad, yeah Rising Down was a very good album. criminally slept on but that’s pretty much the norm for The Roots whole career.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Yeah Kha, no doubt about it. True diehards like me love The Roots regardless. However, that doesn’t equal record sales. Damn shame.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper


  • that dude

    Gotta agree with Ken. McCain was quite widely seen as the sacrificial lamb for the Republicans.

    Name recognition? Seriously?

    Obama had more of a name than McCain.

    Obama’s ‘formidable opponent’ was definitely Americans’ prejudice.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    while nas is one of the best rappers ever, k-rino is too. 3 albums in one year, all of the highest quality….PERPETUAL ASCENSION!!!!!

  • Tommy Patron

    It’s disappointing when the only way folks can like something is if it fits RIGHT into their genre of preference. Does “Benz or Beamer” mean anything to you, Big Man?

  • that dude

    (Amended: Obama had more of a name in recent politics and in the American peoples consciousness)

  • Captain America

    McCain ran for president like a senator. Obama ran for president like a president.

  • Colin

    I found you Khalid!! Good article as usual.

  • Jacob

    lupe fiasco’s the cool was a good album too

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    Khalid’s been obsessed with Vampire Weekend. Where is the love?

  • http://hoops4life.com overtime

    Great Article

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Big Man

    Tommy Patron
    I know the song.
    My point was that I think Nas has historically had lackluster production on his albums which detracts from what he’s saying. That’s it.
    Andre 3K isn’t the only cat that typically picks great beats. Jigga is good at that ass well. Ghostface is pretty good too.
    I think Nas picks bad beats and combined with his monotone flow, they can suck the energy out of songs. He still can drop some knowledge but more and more I’m not interested in what he has to say. I don’t feel like he’s advancing my thoguhts anymore. I feel like he’s just passing along information he compiled from another source.
    But, that’s me and my opinion. Nas still has a legion of fans who think he is the only true artist in hip hop. I can respect that.
    I feel the same way about 3K.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Khalid: Obama winning the election is bigger than landing on the moon? What in the blue hell are you talking about? Let the man fulfill his two terms before you come out and say some hasty sh!t like that.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Jacob: Lupe Fiasco sucks.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Woo. That feels good to get that off my chest.

  • Young Chris MP3

    I still think that the Penny II retros are the illest kicks to come out this year.

  • Khalid Salaam

    Uh Teddy let me explain. In the context in which i’m speaking, i’m putting forth a rationale based on the fact that it is and has been within America’s collective being to manifest technology of high regard. Scientifically it was inevitable that landing on the moon and henceforth building a space station, high capability satellites, laser powered weapons, etc were going to happen. It has not been in America’s collective being for anyone to suggest that electing a non-white male was ever inevitable or that it was even feasible. For a country to elect Obama, as it pertains to the specificity of US racial history, is overall a bigger achievement in my estimation. I did not say what i said in haste at all. I don’t recognize your name so you must be new to the site. So i say welcome. Maybe you aren’t familiar with my thought process. Maybe you were just trying to be clever, i don’t know. But very little of what i write is done without being initially well thought out . No hasty sh*t here.

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    I’m pretty much down for everything you said here; though I thought that The Game had a shot at verse of the year.
    Also, as a big fan of print journalism, I hate to see newspapers leave. There is still something classy about holding the written word in your hand; and computers just can’t imitate the feel.
    Here’s hoping that SLAM sees another couple of decades.

    Keep warm

  • Jacob

    @teddy screw you

    @khalid was lakers vs celtics game 4 in consideration for game of the year?

  • Khalid Salaam

    tzvi! what up man…jacob yeah it was. why is that your winner?

  • Jacob

    yeah that was an awesome game

  • http://www.slamonline.com Earl K. Sneed

    1B for overused Word or Phrase: “It ain’t trickin’ if you got it…”

    Over it!

    And Nas was the truly realest all year long.

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    @Khalid and everyone else, Y’all know about Immortal Technique and his groundbreaking work, “The Third World”?
    If not, fire up those headphones. He speaks truth, especially on the track “Harlem Renascience”
    No disrespect to Nas, but IT trumped all others on that CD.
    As for game of the year 2008-2009 season, as of now it’ll be Houston-Portland from about 6 weeks back. No?

  • JD

    remember when Marley and half of Jamaica used the term “politricks” long before the “master of lyrics” De La Rocha. Just sayin

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Good stuff, Kha, save for the game of the year. With all due respect to the game we all love, shouldn’t Giants over Pats actually have won that one?

  • Anton

    album of the year = Metallica – “Death Magnetic”

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Haha okay @ Khalid:
    Well, I understand what you’re saying and I do like Obama, trust. The man is smart, groundbreaking, and clearly the better candidate out of the two. What I’m saying though, is that it doesn’t mean as much if it turns out that Obama is a horrible president. When he serves his two terms and genuinely changes this country for the better, then you can say Obama being elected was as comparable a monument to landing on the moon.
    Let’s put it this way: If the United States built a space shuttle and then failed to land on the moon, it would be analogous to electing Obama and him failing his expectations as president. Well, except for the fact that additional trips to the moon could be taken, whereas Obama is really put on the spot to perform in crunch time. Yeah, that’s what I mean.
    Also, thank you for the welcome, but I’ve been reading here for a while. I guess I haven’t commented too often?
    Nice piece.

  • Chad

    The Dark Knight wasn’t even the best comic book movie of 2008. I think of it as the 2006-07 Cavaliers (the team that got hammered by the Spurs), with Heath Ledger as LeBron James. One really awesome performance was almost, but not quite, enough to make up for the fact that all the other parts weren’t that good.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Chad: Are you kidding me? The Dark Knight wasn’t even the best comic movie of 2008? You’re kidding. The performances were great.

  • Joe A

    I gotta agree with TZvi T. Immortal technique’s album was ill. Nas’s album disappointed the hell out of me, especially after hearing his N***** mixtape before his album dropped. As for tv show of the year, didn’t the Wire finish up this year? Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Ceasar Milan and his awesome “pack leader” mentality, but he can’t compete with Omar and Marlo.

  • Jacob

    @ben I think it was only NBA games if we were talking best games of the year Giants vs Pats Texas Tech vs Texas…oh yeah and @khalid I forgot one Spurs vs Suns game 1 was a hella good game

  • Heals

    Spot on about sagging TIGHT jeans, c’mon y’all not a good look…

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    Nice article, Khalid. Definitely agree with you on the album of the year pick…to me it was Nas back in top form. And Sarah Palin as the pop culture addition…I’ll laugh at her any day, so long as she’s not holding any real power in the government, then I’ll cry.

    Also, I know this isn’t why you brought it up, but f*ck Wal-Mart. Terrible labor practices.

  • Krishan

    Iron Man was tons better. The dark knight had great performances, but the pacing was wrong with climax after freakin climax, the g*ddamned story-telling rythm was wack. And it was 3.5 hours or so long, so watching was tedious. There was like at least 3 instances where ending the movie would have made it better, but the movie JUST KEPT TRUDGING ALONG. I would even go as far as say that I likes batman begins better.

  • Krishan

    I meant “liked”, not “likes”. And TV on the Radio, co-sign myles.

  • J aka Mr Unbreakable

    @Krishan I absolutely agree with u about d dark knight, movie was way 2 long and overdramatised, during the last 45-30 minutes, I had completely lost all interest in the story and was just waiting 4 it to end…

    Any1 ever heard of Lil’ Wayne? or tha Carter 3 dropped in 07???
    I maybe late cuz I’m writing from Cameroon and US ‘nouveautés’ dropped here a lil bit late…

  • J aka Mr Unbreakable

    And I really don’t wanna c the end of newspapers and magazines,
    aren’t u way 2 pessimistic Khalid?

  • Young Chris MP3


  • http://nba.com tealish

    I like your words, Salaam. Good piece.

  • FLUD

    @Anton…. ha ha ha ha ha ha…. really? The sound alone on that album is awful. Nice one Mr. Salaam.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq al Haydar


    Nas’s album was excellent, but I liked GZA’s “Pro Tools” more.

  • stokesey

    i still got “The Game”s new joint spinnin…Not album of the year worthy, just sayin….Im put that as most overused phrase as well, just sayin…

  • simoun

    808s & heartbreak should be the album of the year!

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Money Bill Williams

    kanye’s effort < Nas’s collaborating with

  • http://www.jerkmydillsnik.com Hass777

    why is jeremiah wright so wrong????for saying aids was created specifically for poor so-called colored peoples of the world??I dont get that part of nas verse.and if obamas papa had not been in love with a slave master then he would not exist.

    google dick cheyney(obamas cousin) race specific bio weapons and oh yes merry christmas!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    regarding hass’s last post- Really?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Kid Presto

    808′s and heartbreak is one of the most slept on albums of the year. Kanye was doing his thing this year expect when he tried to hard on SNL the other week. I’m patienly awaiting the drop of Grown Ass man next summer! Luda’s album wasn’t a joke either and it was a vast improvement over Release therapy. but the artist that all need to look out for next year: Curren$y the Hot spitta. believe me wode. fly society in the house.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Kid Presto

    Nas with no beats is the best thing ever.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Big Man

    Kid Presto
    Nah, you’re joking.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Khalid: Well actually, Obama’s election itself is a huge monument by itself and race relations in America. I can see where you’re coming from.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    @ J aka Mr. Unbreakable: You must have an attention span of about 2 minutes then. The Dark Knight was a masterpiece.

  • Chad

    I’m with Krishan and Mr Unbreakable. The Dark Knight would have been much better if it was half an hour shorter. There was just too much going on, some of it didn’t go anywhere (like the whole subplot with the Chinese gangster that was literally left hanging) and the whole thing wasn’t nearly as deep or as exciting as it made itself out to be. I really wanted to like it, since I loved Batman Begins, but I was disappointed. Iron Man was a much better movie.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Chad: I disagree. I was thoroughly satisfied with the outcome of the film and also, there’s room for potential sequels of the Nolan Batman franchise. Its a win-win situation for both the viewer and the filmmaker. Ironman is awesome, but the Dark Knight is amazing.

  • http://www.kicksonfire.com Anton

    How is the XX3 not the sneaker of the year?

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    Kha, i cannot stand The Dog Whisperer. As a Latino of the ghetto community, i find this Tio Tom offensive to my people. Why? I’m not entirely sure. But he’s a cornball and God knows what he does to those dogs when those cameras are off. And I have to say Family Guy is the show of the year. Shoe of the year, I’d have to say is the Jordan Retro 6′s. And Dark Knight is top 10 all time to me.

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    And 808′s & Heartbreak was trash music. Yeah, i said it.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    o, all of kanye is trash music. K-RINO triple darkness: the lyrics. the man is in another dimension.

  • Khalid Salaam

    O, i can’t believe you hate the dog whisperer. You can’t come on here and hate the man without a actual reason man. Thats not official, you have to at least explain why you don’t like him. Dude is real talented, you’re sleeping. Also, i agree about 808′s and heartbreaks but the glow in the dark tour was in spring so he didn’t have those auto-tuner songs yet.

  • http://Slamonline.com O

    I said i’m hating on him cause he’s a Tio Tom. Latino version of Uncle Tom. He’s trying to cross over something horrible. That ain’t peace with me. And Tarzan, Kanye’s first album was bananas. 2nd was cool. Third was eh. But this last one was horrible.

  • The World Famous BP

    I’m glad that i can say i put you up on a good portion of the things mentioned in this list. My job is done here.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Really?? LOL

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  • Atrain

    Verse of the Year:

    I father, I Brooklyn Dodger them
    I Jack, I Rob, I sin, I man, I’m Jackie Robinson
    ‘cept when I run base, I dodge the pen
    Lucky me, Luckily they didn’t get me
    Now when I bring the Nets I’m the black Branch Ricky

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  • Tom

    Great review Khalid, the Economic meltdown is most definitely the story of the year. 10 years from now, people are gonna read about this meltdown the same way we read about the Great Depression now. Also, wasn’t feeling the Nas album at all….the lyrics and concepts were top-notch but the production ruined it for me….Ice Cube’s Raw Footage takes it for me…Same message as Nas, much more listenable IMO.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    I’m assuming that was Jay.
    And he apparently still has it.

  • Ilir

    As Salaam Alaikum, Kha.

    Good list. You forgot to mention most overlooked album and I would DEFINITELY have to go with Nas’s “Untitled” (we know what the REAL title is). Also, did someone knock the beats Nas used? I thought they were hot. Hero? Sly fox? Fried Chicken? Slave and master? Those were hot beats.