Year in Music: iFunk?

Obsessions aren't always bad

This year we were consumed by our obsession with the latest piece of technology and the immediate gratification that comes with it. My personal part in this collective cultural obsession hit me one day as I sat on the bus, my multitasking mind elsewhere, my phone in one hand receiving text messages, my MP3 player in the other on random shuffle, playing a song by Project Pat boasting about having "the number one ringtone." And on my lap sat not a laptop, but a relic from another time: a book, an ordinary page-bound, nonfiction book. But as I read, instead of flipping to get a referenced page, I found myself absent-mindedly, or rather, tech-mindedly, tapping my finger on the bold-faced word, unconsciously thinking that I was clicking on a computer screen — confirming my obsession with and dependence on digital technology.

Our obsession drives us to grab the fastest and the newest and consumes us with possessing the latest iProducts, the most recent Guitar Hero, the most up-to-date ringtones, and the hottest celebrity gossip, which we seemingly can never get enough of. Hence in 2007, YouTube videoblogger star Chris Crocker's "Leave Britney alone" rant, which attracted more than five million hits, was essentially far more popular than its subject's new album, Blackout (Jive).

But our obsessions aren't necessarily a bad thing, since they are driven by passion as much as by anything else, and consequently we are experiencing a renaissance of enthusiastic people producing amazingly intricate and imaginative music, blogs, visual art, literature, photography, video — all made and distributed DIY-style. In fact, there is so much being created right now that we can't even follow, let alone fathom, it all. After all, how can we when it's possible to create hit blogs, video diaries, and hip-hoperas while multitasking on the bus?

TOP 10

1. The Bay Area's noncommercial radio stations

2. DJ Yoda, The Amazing Adventures of DJ Yoda (Antidote)

3. Various artists, Soul Jazz Records Singles, 2006–2007 (Soul Jazz)

4. Emcee T's Yay Area version of The Sopranos intro, on YouTube

5. Zeph and Azeem, Rise Up (OM)

6. Born in the Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip-Hop (Rizzoli), by Johan Kugelberg, Afrika Bambaataa, Buddy Esquire, Jeff Chang, and Joe Conzo

7. Copperpot, WYLA? (EV Productions)

8. Ultimate Force, I'm Not Playin' (Traffic)

9. MF Grimm, The Hunt for the Gingerbread Man (Class A)

10. edIT, Certified Air Raid Material (Alpha Pup)

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