It’s album release day! “Familiar Enemies” is available on all streaming services.
As a dedicated amateur opinion-haver, debating the individual NFL award winners throughout the season is one of my favorite pastimes. Most times the professional opinion-havers get the awards right, but they don’t decide for another month, so I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring and make some picks.
- Patrick Mahomes
- Drew Brees
- Russell Wilson
This one isn’t as close for me as it is for others. What Mahomes has done this season is absolutely incredible. Brees is the clear #2, and I think Wilson’s insane efficiency puts him in the third spot. Aaron Donald is the only non-QB in this conversation, but he doesn’t crack my top 3.
Offensive Player of the Year
- Patrick Mahomes
- Drew Brees
- Deandre Hopkins
This award always confuses me. Shouldn’t it be the same as MVP? Or is it the best non-QB? I don’t know. But I’m giving it Mahomes. He was that good. I’ll put Deandre Hopkins right behind Mahomes and Brees, as I thought he was the best and most valuable offensive player that isn’t a QB.
Defensive Player of the Year
- Aaron Donald
- Bobby Wagner
- Khalil Mack
Was there any question on this one? Aaron Donald continues his reign as the best defensive player in the NFL, and came very close to breaking Michael Strahan’s sack record… as a defensive tackle! That is absurd. Bobby Wagner has been the best linebacker in the league for a while now, and held together a Seattle defense that experienced some extreme turnover. Mack’s stats aren’t gaudy, but his impact on the Bears can be felt throughout the entire conference.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
- Baker Mayfield
- Saquon Barkley
- Nick Chubb
Saquon had a historic rookie season, but Baker turned around an entire franchise. He set the rookie record for passing touchdowns. There’s no question which player is more valuable. With Chubb coming in at #3, and Denzel Ward registering on the DROY landscape, it has become clear that the Browns had an absolutely epic draft class.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
- Darius Leonard
- Derwin James
- Leighton Vander Esch
- Bradley Chubb
- Denzel Ward
In a normal year, any one of these guys would have dynamite cases for DROY, but this is a ridiculously loaded class. I’ll give the nod to Leonard, who filled up the stat sheet every single game while helping to turn around this formerly terrible Colts defense.
Coach of the Year
- Andy Reid
- Pete Carroll
- Matt Nagy
This award almost always goes to a new coach that turned around a team, but I think two stalwarts deserve the recognition this year. Mahomes may be Football Jesus, but he is a still a second year QB coming into the season with only one start under his belt. The Chiefs faced the toughest schedule in the league, have a weak and hobbled defense, and still acquired the #1 seed in the AFC. Even if they didn’t, Reid deserves COTY for his handling of Mahomes alone. In Carroll’s case, he took on what looked like a rebuild and pulled 10 wins out of it. It’s hard to separate the brilliance of Russell WIlson from Carroll, but getting 10 wins out of this roster is incredibly admirable.
Executive of the Year
- Chris Ballard
- John Dorsey
- Ryan Pace
This is a weird award, and it almost always goes to some guy who gets fired a couple years later. I’ll still give it a shot though. Chris Ballard played his cards right in Indy, realizing that he was in a full rebuild around a franchise QB, and making all his moves with that in mind. He traded down three spots in the 2018 draft, and netted three second round picks. He also snagged future all-pros Darius Leonard and Quenton Nelson. Dorsey was handed a boatload of picks by his predecessor Sashi Brown, but he made the absolute most of them. He also deserves credit for trading away Carlos Hyde to force Hue Jackson to play the far superior Nick Chubb. As for Pace, he correctly identified that his team was in a championship window and made the big moves to get them over the hump.
2018 was easily the best year for music since I started doing my “Favorites” lists a few years ago. Hip hop certainly dominated my Spotify plays, but a certain Texas soul singer earned the prestigious honors of “Allen Echo’s #1 Song and Album”: Mr. Leon Bridges.
When Bridges dropped his stellar debut album “Coming Home” in 2016, I wondered how far he could realistically get performing just (phenomenal) 60’s style soul music. Would he transition to a more modern sound? If so, would it ruin his brand? The answers were a resounding yes and no. His 2018 sophomore album “Good Thing” kept his soul roots while expanding his sound in a more modern and diverse direction. It’s catchy, fun, heartfelt, and has absolutely no filler or skippable tracks. In a year where my favorite rapper dropped TWO phenomenal solo projects, “Good Thing” is still my favorite album, by far. It’s that good.
Here are my top 25 albums and top 50 songs of the year. As always, these are ranked by my personal enjoyment. I am not a music critic.
My Favorite Albums
- Leon Bridges – Good Thing
- Black Thought & Salaam Remi – Streams of Thought Vol. 2
- Kendrick Lamar Etc. – Black Panther Soundtrack
- J.I.D. – Dicaprio 2
- Post Malone – beerbongs & bentleys
- Pusha T – DAYTONA
- Lupe Fiasco – DROGAS WAVE
- Black Thought & 9th Wonder – Streams of Thought Vol. 1
- Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Tearing at the Seams
- The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
- Anderson Paak – Oxnard
- Mac Miller – Swimming
- LANY – Malibu
- Bas – Milky Way
- Jay Rock – Redemption
- Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap
- Travis Scott – Astroworld
- Thirty Seconds to Mars – AMERICA
- The Carters – EVERYTHING IS LOVE
- Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
- James Bay – Electric Light
- SAINt JHN – Collection ONE
- Vince Staples – FM!
- Young the Giant – Mirror Master
- Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
My Favorite Songs
- Leon Bridges – Beyond
- Leon Bridges – Georgia to Texas
- Lupe Fiasco – Manilla
- The 1975 – Love It If We Made It
- Gallant feat. ASAP Ferg – Doesn’t Matter
- Travis Scott feat. Drake – SICKO MODE
- Anderson Paak – Bubblin
- Black Thought & 9th Wonder – 9th vs Thought
- Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz & Saudi – X
- J.I.D – 151 Rum
- Janelle Monae – I Like That
- Mac Miller – Self Care
- James Bay – Wild Love
- Anderson Paak feat. Q-Tip – Cheers
- Anderson Paak feat. Kendrick Lamar – Tints
- Lupe Fiasco – WAV Files
- Janelle Monae – Make Me Feel
- BlocBoyJB & Drake – Look Alive
- Post Malone – Better Now
- John Legend – A Good Night
- The 1975 – It’s Not Worth Living (If It’s Not With You)
- Kendrick Lamar & SZA – All The Stars
- The Carters – APESHIT
- Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – You Worry Me
- Drake – Nice For What
- SAINt JHN – Lust
- Pusha T – If You Know You Know
- Nipsey Hussle – Hussle & Motivate
- Jay Rock feat. J. Cole – OSOM
- Khalid – Better
- Pusha T – Santeria
- James Bay – Us
- Thirty Seconds to Mars feat. Halsey – Love Is Madness
- Lupe Fiasco feat. Nikki Jean – Haile Selass
- Allen Rayman – Rose
- Anderson Paak feat. Snoog Dogg – Anywhere
- Mac Miller – Come Back To Earth
- Black Thought – Long Liveth
- Black Thought – Soundtrack to Confusion
- J.I.D. – Slick Talk
- Leon Bridges – If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)
- LANY – I Don’t Wanna Love You Anymore
- Bruno Mars feat. Gucci Mane & Kodak Black – Wake Up In The Sky
- Bas – Fragrance
- Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Hey Mama
- Jay Rock – Rotation 112th
- Pusha T – The Games We Play
- Nipsey Hussle feat. Buddy – Status Symbol 3
- Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – A Little Honey
- Mac Miller – Ladders
Recently I’ve found myself in more and more quarrels with a certain type of political mind. A political mind that doesn’t necessarily have a specific ideology. A mind that doesn’t spend that much time discussing the actual effects of government policies. A mind that you may come to realize aligns with yours on ten out of ten policy positions — after an hour of heated political disagreement. A mind whose primary political identity can be summed up as Anti-Anti-Trump: opposed to those who oppose Trump.
I promise that not all of my posts will be about guns, but I just got back from the March For Our Lives and had some thoughts.
In a section of my last post, I wrote about the constant lecturing and nitpicking that pro-gun folks are waiting to give gun control advocates when they get certain details about guns wrong. It’s annoying and mostly useless, I argued, but just try to get the details right and then you won’t have to worry about it. It’s been a few weeks since I wrote that, and in that time, young people (mostly high school students) across the country have protested, marched, walked out and led a national conversation on gun control that is bigger than any we’ve seen in recent memory. And since the mantle of the gun control issue has been taken up and is now held by young people, the detail nitpicking and condescending lecturing has gone from an annoying online trend to the dominant strategy of the pro-gun right.
After every mass shooting, American society re-enters its infinite loop of dumb arguments, bad analogies, and cynicism. Banging your head against a wall is more productive. Anytime I hear any variation of the following, I want to make like this corgi and teleport out of the discussion:
When I’ve got a lot on my mind and I can’t make the topic work for a song, social media is the outlet I often turn to. I know that I’m nothing more than a goldfish yelling into the surrounding ocean, but it’s cathartic and necessary for my sanity. This current political climate has created a permanent fog of anger and desperation among those of us that care about the direction of the country. Channeling that anger and desperation into something positive is what we should strive for, but the expression of frustration and establishing political positions is useful as well.