4 game-changing longreads that defined our year

Today, we’re rounding up the culture-related longreads that left us swooning this year—some because they were written by great stylists, some because of the important conversations they sparked, and some simply because they helped us make a little more sense of this increasingly fast-paced and information-saturated world.

One

“The Sadness of T-Pain”

By Leon Neyfakh

“There’s an argument to be made that T-Pain should have just stopped using Auto-Tune and figured out some other way to stand out—that, sometimes, it’s worth listening to the haters. But what has made T-Pain most resentful since his fall from the top was seeing certain artists use Auto-Tune and not get criticized; rather, they were celebrated as innovators in a way that T-Pain never was.” [The New Yorker]

Two

“What We’re Really Afraid of When We Call Someone Basic”

By Anne Helen Peterson

“So what are those who make fun of basics actually frightened of? Of being basic, sure, but that’s just another way of being scared of conformity. And in 2014 America, the way we measure conformity isn’t in how we speak in political beliefs, but in consumer and social media habits. We declare our individuality via our capacity to consume differently—to mix purchases from Target with those from quirky Etsy shops—and to tweet, use Facebook, or pin in a way that separates us from others.” [BuzzFeed]

Three

“These Hoes Ain’t Heard: On the Women Who Remixed ‘Loyal'”

By Emma Carmichael

“The work these women put in to challenge Chris Brown’s radio hit might have gone largely unheard (I came to many of those tracks, after hearing Keyshia’s response from the idling car that night, through excited email chains and Twitter exchanges with other women), but that makes it no less important. It’s as important, I’d argue, as the quiet, subconscious critical distance most women put between themselves and the words when they’re dancing to a song like ‘Loyal’ on any given late night out. Misogyny, as a factor, feels eternal; still, it’s almost more retrograde to conclude this analysis with the idea that women respond to being muted by actually being mute.” [The Hairpin]

Four

“The Frontlines of Ferguson”

By Rembert Browne

“Then I froze. I could see the soldiers marching up West Florissant. They looked like monsters.

At that moment, I didn’t feel like a journalist. There was nothing about this event that I felt the need to chronicle. There was no time to find out what the bombs actually were and what was actually coming out of the guns and whattype of gas was coming out of the canisters. In this moment, there was nothing I felt the need to broadcast to the world. I didn’t even have the desire to communicate my safety or lack thereof.

I was just a black man in Ferguson.” [Grantland]