Here’s our latest conversation on what the alt-weekly The Nashville Scene is covering with its music editor Stephen Trageser. This time, the topic is who and what else made it into the annual Best of Nashville issue (alongside WNXP and our own Jason Moon Wilkins and Marquis Munson).
Jewly Hight: A lot of artists that we dig and play and follow here a WNXP got Best of Nashville love. And that includes your Best Album winner. Who is the artist and what is the project?
Stephen Trageser: We singled out Reaux Marquez’s No Roads as the best album this year. It’s a phenomenal hip-hop LP with beautiful and distinctive production, and it wrestles with all kinds of tensions that sort of outline the experience of living in Nashville, both as a Black person and as an artist. There’s nothing else that sounds quite like it, and he just did a phenomenal job.
JH: You were the one who wrote about the Best Solo Artist. So who did you consider deserving of that title?
ST: I picked Yola. Part of that is because of her work in and of itself. You know, she’s been working here and living here and bringing in folks from other places to help kind of loosen up the production and sort of help shake that up some. And then another part of it is just how she makes agency and autonomy such important discussions within her work. And as she does her work, she’s kind of changing this artist space, sort of making it easier for artists who are not white men to tell their stories. It’s like people talk all the time about how it just feels overwhelming with so many new people coming here. But that’s not going to stop. If that’s going to be the case, someone like Yola, who is making so much of an effort to engage with the community and make it a better place, that really stood out to me a lot.
JH: What about Houston Kendrick, Namir Blade and Joy Oladokun, all of whom we have spotlighted as Artists of the Month here at WNXP. What are they recognized for?
ST: I’ve got Houston Kendrick’s Small Infinity as our Best Pop Album this year. Namir Blade’s collaboration with L’Orange, Imaginary Everything, we call that our Best Hip-hop Album. And more than just an album, we recognize Joy Oladokun as the Best Breakout of the Year. This has just been kind of a year for [her] coming into the national consciousness, and she’s been doing so wonderful.
JH: There are several other artists that we’ve featured here on WNXP, Adia Victoria, Julien Baker and Tristen, that got mentions. What did Scene contributors celebrate about their albums?
ST: For Adia Victoria’s A Southern Gothic, we recognize that as Best New Vision of the South, sort of rewriting the narrative about what the South is. Tristen’s Aquatic Flowers is recognized as Best Album About Parenthood, because it’s really digging deep into that very intense experience. And Julien Baker’s Little Oblivion, we call it the Best Album to Cry To. Because if you’re going to have intense emotional experiences, how better to do it than with a Julien Baker record?
JH: And what about Savvy and Brassville, artists that we’ve definitely mentioned here a 91.One and we are planning to do deeper dives into very soon? What titles did they each wind up with?
ST: Savvy we’ve called Best R&B Newcomer and Brassville is the Best Brass Band.