Every December, L.A. Weekly's sister publication the Village Voice polls some 600 music critics and journalists (including several Weekly editors and contributors) to create Pazz + Jop, the mother of all year-end best-of lists. It's so massive it doesn't even come out until January, because it just takes that damn long to tabulate the whole thing.
Somewhat predictably, D'Angelo's Black Messiah tops this year's albums list. The reclusive R&B star's first album in 14 years arrived without warning on Dec. 15, no doubt after many Pazz + Jop contributors had already submitted their best-of lists to their main publications. That rush to heap last-minute praise on the year's biggest surprise release was enough to edge out El-P and Killer Mike's Run the Jewels 2, which got as many votes as Black Messiah, but fewer points (it's complicated).
Over on the singles list, Future Islands' “Seasons (Waiting on You)” took the top spot, but only because Taylor Swift's two singles, “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off,” split Swifty voters, landing at No. 3 and 4, respectively. FKA Twigs' eerie “Two Weeks” came in at No. 2, and Kendrick Lamar's “i” scored the fifth spot, making Lamar the only L.A. artist to crack the top 10 of either the singles or albums list. (Unless you count Sia or Spoon — both the “Chandelier” singer and Spoon frontman Britt Daniel live here now. But it feels like a stretch to call either an L.A. artist.)
Other L.A. artists who made strong showings on Pazz + Jop this year: Flying Lotus (You're Dead, No. 13 on albums; “Never Catch Me” featuring Kendrick Lamar, No. 11 on singles); Beck (Morning Phase, No. 16 on albums); YG (My Krazy Life, No. 24 on albums); Jenny Lewis (The Voyager, No. 26 on albums; “Just One of the Guys, No. 33 on singles); and Ty Segall (Manipulator, No. 27 on albums).
If lists aren't your thing, Pazz + Jop also features several excellent essays looking back on the past year in music. We recommend starting with former L.A. Weekly music editor Ben Westhoff's look at how former “Snowman” Jeezy became hip-hop's unlikely leading voice for racial justice.
For the full Pazz + Jop results, visit VillageVoice.com.