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2007 Music Year in Review

The holidays are a time of family, schmaltzy Christmas commercials that somehow make you cry and, for music journalists, list-making. Lots and lots of list-making.

Over the past few years, the availability of year-end critics' lists has multiplied faster than the worry lines on Ben Bernanke's brow. Mark our words, come mid-December, the Internet and your local Barnes & Noble's magazine rack will be brimming over with head-spinning, eye-glazing permutations of praise for the following albums: Arcade Fire's Neon Bible, the National's Boxer, Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, M.I.A.'s Kala, Radiohead's In Rainbows, LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver and Battles' Mirrored.

"Mind if I play through?" Scarface hits the links at Hermann Park.
Chris Gray
"Mind if I play through?" Scarface hits the links at Hermann Park.
Al Franken knows domestic tariff policy and all the words to "Sugar Magnolia."
Steve Cohen
Al Franken knows domestic tariff policy and all the words to "Sugar Magnolia."

If you want to parse the exact sequence of those records in your favorite publication or blog, feel free. We're going in a different direction.

In 11 cities from Miami to San Francisco, we asked musicians, MCs, DJs, athletes and, in one case, a Michael Stipe-impersonating electrician to tell us what music they loved most this year. It could be albums, songs, or an artist's collected works, and need not be dated 2007. We just wanted to know what was moving our interviewees right now. Interviews in five cities are included below, and you can find the rest online at www.houstonpress.com.

This just seems more like the way we listen to music now — with everything available to everyone free and on demand, the old days of anticipating the release dates of and then treasuring new albums seem to be seriously on the wane. John Nova Lomax, Executive Music Editor, Village Voice Media

HOUSTON

Teeing Off with Scarface
By Chris Gray

Remember how everyone thought Snoop Dogg wearing golf gear in 2004's Starsky & Hutch and those Chrysler commercials with Lee Iacocca was so funny? Well, a couple of days before Thanksgiving, on-again, off-again Geto Boy and Houston rap legend Scarface strolls into the clubhouse at the Hermann Park Golf Course clad in a white Wildcat Golf Club polo, navy shorts and his sock feet (no spikes allowed inside), and no one bats an eyelash. He is, after all, here almost every day.

But today, Scarface is here for a press conference to hail the December 4 release of Made, his first proper album since 2002's The Fix. It's a strange interview. He's cordial but seems distracted, fiddling with his iPhone and flipping through copies of local hip-hop magazines Hard Hitter and What It Dew. Another reporter asks him how it feels to routinely be ranked among the greatest MCs of all time, and his only answer is a soft-spoken "I like it a lot."

On the other hand, Face, now 37, says pretty much all he's been doing since The Fix came out is coaching Little League football and playing poker and golf, which he took up last September at his daughter's urging. Asked if he'll make another album after Made, he just shrugs. Rapping, it seems, is now something he can take or leave.

"I really don't want to do this shit anymore," he says. "It had a lot to do with the unauthorized albums Rap-a-Lot put out [2003's Balls & My Word and 2006's My Homies Part 2]. I was kind of mad about that, but I don't want people that want to listen to my music to not be able to."

Nonetheless, Scarface and Rap-a-Lot have mended enough fences for him to return to his longtime label (both with the Geto Boys and solo) after a one-album departure to Def Jam South for The Fix. "There ain't no sense in me not putting out an album because of that," he says. "I've seen a lot of artists fall out with their labels and be irrelevant when they come back."

Scarface, though, will be relevant as long as he cares to be. "I was talking to Busta Rhymes and he said, 'Goddamn, are you ever going to fall off? You sound like you're 16,'" he laughs. "I told him, 'I am 16. I never grew up. I do shit that kids do.'"

After the press conference, Face allows the Press to follow him onto the links for a couple holes. He's already revealed he was a big KISS fan growing up, enjoys everyone from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin to Steely Dan and the Eagles ("...and that's just my iPhone") and turns out to be a local rockabilly fan as well. "You ever heard of the [Flaming] Hellcats?" he asks, preparing to tee off. "Jaime [frontman Jaime Hellcat] is a good friend of mine. I talk to Jaime a lot. I want to see them get it."

Houston Press: What was your favorite music to come out this year?

Scarface: I didn't really have any. What came out this year? Did Coldplay come out this year?

HP: What have you been listening to?

SF: Radiohead. Old Radiohead. Not much, though. I'm going to fuck [the ball] up.

HP: Do you have any artists on your label [Runaway Slave]?

SF: Product. Product is an ­artist.

HP: What about the 50 and Kanye albums?

SF: Kanye had a brilliant album this year. [Swings; to ball] Get down, get down!

HP: What about the new Jay-Z?

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