The idea for this post essentially began something along the lines of, “Hey I read a lot of stuff on the internet and there are a lot of great writers whom I keep going back to again and again for excellent writing. So why not compile a quick list of some of my favorite pieces of the year from those people so that other folks can read these excellent wordsmiths.”
Then I started to write up the list and began to realize something. A large portion of the best articles I’ve read this year all come from one place – TheRinger.com. Or more specifically, a few writers that work for the Ringer or worked for Bill Simmons (Ringer CEO) previously.
Now, I don’t want this just be a Bill Simmons/Ringer knobfest, but I can’t deny that some of the best young & talented writers of sports, pop culture, and art currently call The Ringer their home. It’s why I liked Grantland. The Ringer is essentially Grantland 2.0, but weirder and broader. It’s also why I respect Bill Simmons so much because, despite his annoying biases and homeristic opinions, he has always fought for – and mostly succeeded at – creating a place on the internet for fresh journalistic talent to flourish with minimal corporate oversight (Note: HBO is an initial investor in the site, but it doesn’t appear to me that they put their fingers in the pudding unless it comes to reviews for their shows). The rest of the content is driven by original ideas and an openness for oddity. I fuck with that and it’s one of the reasons I made a site for myself. I want to put things out that I like that maybe other people will like.
With that out of the way, here are five of my favorite pieces of writing from 2016.
Shea Serrano might be one of the funniest writers (or people) I’ve ever come across on the internet or life in general. The dude could write about anything and make it hilarious. Luckily he writes mostly about hip hop and basketball – two of my all time favorite anythings. This piece commemorates the 10th anniversary of rap duo Clipse’s iconic second album “Hell Hath No Fury.” I believe it takes the cake of Shea’s output since joining the Ringer.
Prior to linking back up with Simmons, Shea independently wrote a 12 issue newsletter, which I highly, highly recommend. Read them here. Particularly Issue #2.
And of course, I would be remiss to not include his book The Rap Year Book, which thanks to his rabid Twitter followers sat on the New York Times Bestseller list for weeks and is being turned into a documentary series.
Micah Peters is one of many young writers at the Ringer that can write their asses off. He focuses particularly on hip-hop and African American culture (I would also highly recommend his piece on Baton Rouge).
Micah is also a huge EPL and Manchester United fan. Here he delves into the notorious boardroom dealings and movie villain tendencies of Daniel Levy – Tottenham Hotspur’s unpredictable chairman. The end is perfect.
Rembert Browne left the sinking ship of Grantland for Vulture earlier this year. I for one am thankful that he found a new home as well as a platform for his great writing. This piece in particular about the origins of Drake wearing a Doris Burke “Woman Crush Everyday” sweatshirt is an incredibly funny and fulfilling piece about journalism, writing, and happenstance.
Zach Lowe also used to work at Grantland (you’re seeing the trend) but now works at ESPN full-time writing about basketball. I also listen to every episode of Zach’s podcast The Lowe Post, which usually comes out once or twice a week. If you’re interested in basketball in any way shape or form, reading or listening to Zach’s work is a prerequisite. This is a great write up of Zach by Josh Levin of Slate.
5. The Ringer – Our Favorite Atlanta Moments (The Ringer)
Donald Glover’s Atlanta on FX was my favorite TV show of 2016 (edging Stranger Things by the bumper of an invisible car). It had literally everything I’ve ever wanted from a 30 minute TV show: Humor, emotion, struggle, triumph, and piss-filled condoms. This is a collection of some of the best moments from the season.
It appears my 2017 resolution needs to be branching out away from Bill Simmons-led websites.