10 TV Moments That Totally Changed Everything in 2012

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Now that the second decade of the Golden Age of television is solidly underway, everything’s different, right? It’s like ever since Tony Soprano started seeing a shrink, we don’t have to. What can a therapist tell us that a showrunner can’t? Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose — except when we do lose, because power destroys us (see: Breaking Bad), terrorism threatens us (Homeland), the cycle of poverty can’t be broken (The Wire), and we are ultimately alone (Mad Men).

These days, we grapple with humanity when we watch television, so most of us feel less guilty about neglecting books in order to do it. There are distinctions within the medium, of course, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo helps us make them. Now maybe sometimes, after a season comes to close and a few months have passed, you think, “Wait, what the hell happened on that show again? How come the world is such a mess? Am I making poor life choices?” But then you can always watch Louie. These shows are important (depending on your definition of the word). We need them (so we think). And here are the 10 moments of the year that changed everything (or at least something).

Is Rocawear’s Jimi Hendrix Collection Predicting 2013 Rap Fashion?

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In Rocawear’s most interesting — and possibly definitive — move since they had every grown-ass woman clad in velour jumpsuit dresses, the Jay-Z-founded streetwear brand is unleashing a capsule line based on the life and times of Jimi Hendrix. Taking the concept beyond track jackets and Tim-style boots, the Roc has introduced tie-dyed denim jackets and pants, sleek commemorative sweatshirts, and button-downs in a groovy, dandy-paisley print and American flag-inspired star patterns. And, miraculously, they got the “okay” from Hendrix’ notoriously protective estate to use his image, making for at least one nice sweatshirt and a Hendrix dot matrix face tee — and a classier counterpart to the collegiate Hendrix T-shirt collection that launched in Bloomingdale’s in early November.
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Obviously, Rocawear’s love for Hendrix came at an opportune time: the internet’s been abuzz with shots from the forthcoming Hendrix biopic starring André 3000, and though there won’t be any official songs in the film, Three Stacks has been intriguingly coy about the plot. He’s also been seen around New York wearing a kind of 21st Century Hendrix look: not double but triple denim in overalls with a free-love slouch and a rip at the knee. At the same time, the world will be regaled with new Jimi music next year, via outtakes from final album First Rays of the New Rising Sun. (Bonus: Future’s next album is called Future Hendrix)

Since 2012 was all about rappers flossing black leather and mean-mugging in Rick Owens, we’re feeling a brighter, more ebullient, Hendrix-inspired landscape for Spring next year. And there’ve already been allusions to it: both Future and 2 Chainz have been embellishing their particular Hotlanta street vanguard looks with Hendrixian flourishes, like loco prints and top-ish hats, Meanwhile, Danny Brown is like Jimi’s wilder looks incarnate. SO incarnate! And have you seen your boy Trinidad Jame$ lately, taking to Atlanta streets doing shirtless in a vest like it’s nothing? Add in the infallible badassitude of Hendrix’s military jacket and neckscarf look, and we predict hip-hop stars will take their style even further in the coming year, becoming less beholden to rote street looks and more interested in flamboyant Black excellence. Wiz, you were simply slightly ahead of your time.

10 Best Music Books of 2012

121211-the-oneJames Brown’s life was as deep and mythic as his celebrated groove. In the magisterial, rollicking biography The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, former SPIN staff writer RJ Smith goes further than anyone ever has in getting to the formidable, often contradictory essence of the Godfather of Soul. Rich with novelistic detail and revealing reporting, the book also serves as a history-text-in-disguise, using Brown’s story as a prism through which to view race, politics, Southern identity, and the music business. Like the man himself, The One encompasses multitudes, and it is SPIN’s pick for Best Music Book of 2012. Read on for our conversation with Smith, as well as the rest of our choices for the year’s top music books.

Did you set out to assert or correct any specific notions about James Brown with The One?
I went in with a pretty clear knowledge that he intimidated lots of writers into either not going in certain directions or only telling part of what they saw, and I wanted to give a fuller picture and put in what Brown was good at keeping out. But I didn’t have a fleshed-out agenda of things I wanted to say.

Given that Brown was so strong-willed about controlling his image, was it hard to get those close to him to share information with you?
That was an ongoing thing. With his family, the problem is that it’s somewhat divided; different children and relatives are not all on the same page about what’s happening with the estate and who’s getting different amounts of money. More or less, there’s one spokesperson for the children, his daughter Deanna, and the rest of the kids defer to her. But Tomi Rae, his last wife, was definitely helpful and very talkative and a very important person for me to speak to. It’s funny: My assumption was that there would be racial issues, because he’s such an icon and a powerful embodiment of blackness. I thought that would be an issue approaching people who didn’t know me. But by far the biggest issue was the Southern thing, which wasn’t about being black or white. It was about going to Augusta, Georgia, or towns in South Carolina, and people who didn’t know me, white or black, not being inclined to speak. I had to go back a few times, and every time I’d go back to a town, people would be a little more likely to talk, and finally they’d sit down, and the third time we’d talk they really started saying interesting stuff. It was a “You’re not from around here” vibe that took time to overcome.

We think of Brown as this almost archetypal American figure. Were you surprised by how central his specifically Southern background was to his identity?
Here’s a guy who was born and died within a half-hour drive of the same spot. He lived a lot of his life within 45 minutes or an hour of the place he was born [in Barnwell, South Carolina]. So the region meant a huge amount to him, and I really had to go there and read a hell of a lot to even begin to understand what it meant to him and means to people there now. I had no idea of the tradition of a very particular kind of violence in South Carolina and Georgia that touched him and touched other people from that region — like Strom Thurmond. There’s a number of really amazing, interesting books and essays and crazy renegade accounts of eye-gougings and street-corner wrestling brawls and duels. Violence touched the lives of anybody who grew up in Brown’s area. CONTINUE READING ARTICLE

In Memoriam: The Musicians We Lost in 2012

The AFC Playoff Match-Ups Are Set

While the NFC playoff picture is still muddy, the AFC playoffs are ready to go.

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Here are the seeds:

  1. Denver Broncos (bye)
  2. New England Patriots (bye)
  3. Houston Texans
  4. Baltimore Ravens
  5. Indianapolis Colts
  6. Cincinnati Bengals

So the Texans will play the Bengals this week in Houston, and the Ravens will play the Colts in Baltimore.

Not the juiciest match-ups in the world. But the Broncos and Patriots getting the 1-2 seeds means that we could potentially see a Brady vs. Manning AFC Championship Game down the road, which is plenty juicy. Also, as commenter “Avocado” points out, Peyton Manning could play the Colts in round two if they beat Baltimore and Houston beats Cincy.

Another intriguing note: the Denver Broncos got the #1 seed with a 13-3 record. But they’re only 2-3 against playoff teams, so they’re a big mystery.