Best Merch: Alfredo
Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist fused their talents to release one of the best projects of the year with Alfredo. Not only was the album incredible from top-to-bottom, but the merch that accompanied the release was the best we’ve seen in 2020.
The merch thematically encapsulates Alfredo, with multiple pieces portraying Gibbs and Alc as partners-in-crime. Others don a silhouette of the album’s cover; Gibbs’ hand puppeteering a plate of (presumably delicious) fettuccine alfredo as an ode to The Godfather. There are numerous designs and styles to select from, however, the collection is never trying to do too much. Nothing is so over-the-top that you’d second guess wearing it in public; it’s legitimately excellent merch.
The website hosting the products is simple, but the Italian restaurant theme was a great idea. Much like Only For Dolphins, which I wish had more merch, everything surrounding Alfredo screams splendor (see “Something to Rap About”). Including this collection with everything that they’ve accomplished, Gibbs and Alc dominated 2020 sheerly through their immense talent.
Worst Merch: Cactus Jack x McDonald’s
I bought a $50 Astroworld shirt in the summer of 2018. It was right after I’d seen Travis Scott perform at Lollapalooza, and I was smoking too much pot for my own good. Although some may argue I still am, not even the strongest sativa could implore me to buy anything from Travis Scott’s collaboration with McDonald’s.
I look at the items from the release, and it bewilders me how anyone would consciously purchase a pair of McRib shorts. Or a crewneck that has the full transcription of Travis’ commercial promoting the collaboration. Or a literal necktie. People were spending hundreds of dollars on the resale market for this stuff. Maybe I’m missing something (although I don’t think I am), but the whole concept feels a bit dystopian. It’s genius marketing and made a ton of money, but it’s laugh-out-loud funny to imagine somebody walking out of their house in a T-shirt that says, “I ordered the Travis Scott meal at McDonald’s.”
I’ll say this: good for Travis for collecting checks. It’s been popular to call him a sellout, but I feel as if I’d do the same in his position. I know we’re supposed to be “eating the rich,” but I’d be honored if somebody was willing to say “Martian sent me!” at the drive-thru to get “The Martian Meal” (McDouble with extra pickle, McChicken, no lettuce, add pickle and a large Coke).
Best Artists: Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop and Alternative