Imagine, a shy black boy, 14 or 15, with a musical itch he can’t scratch. An outlet for that inclination eludes him, but he searches for something to mirror his interests. He stumbles across a Rolling Stone article― “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”―where maybe a fraction of the artists he enjoys lines the lower half of the list. Where was his sonic story?
Years later, after ascending the professional writing ladder (with many more rungs waiting), I’m older and wiser. Yet, my curiosity and passion for music stands strong, that restlessness fueling every piece I’ve ever written. I turned 30 last month and with close to a decade logged as a writer / historian / commentator on popular music, I’ve decided to humor myself. Compiling 100 albums that shaped my musical self was a task that was both enjoyable and difficult. Often I wanted to just say forget it―thankfully, I didn’t do that. Would I be seen as self-serving? Maybe. Or, I’ve put in the work as a writer to finally answer (justify) a question that has been frequently asked by peers and readers? Possibly.
The records have been ranked and split into five sections: 1 thru 20, 21 thru 40, 41 thru 60, 61 thru 80 and 81 thru 100. The project kicks off on 4/13/15, each segment will appear in reverse order.
For those that asked me, here is the music that has driven (and drives) me to write, listen and live for the music. Enjoy.
[Editor’s Note: Album map courtesy of Travis Müller.-QH]