Life has its ups and down.

As a professional writer, 2015 was one of my better years, but day to day, week to week, month to month, it didn’t always feel that way. It’s only when I look back at it that I think, ah, you know, this wasn’t that bad. Truth be told, I’m certain I did better and worked harder than most people in my position, but still, I could have done more.

Regardless, it’s a thing this time of the year to list stuff you accomplished, so this is my go at that. The last thing I do is take anything very seriously, so if all this seems rather frivolous or inconsequential to you, dear reader, it’s the same to me.

A small sampling of my work in the year 2015 A.D.

  1. Did a rare, exclusive interview with M.I.A. She detailed the making of her debut record on its 10th anniversary, and confessed to being emotionally abused.
  2. Hung out with Action Bronson. He farted and then we talked about his debut LP on a major label. Fun fact: after this interview, we got really fucking stoned and I almost accidentally killed myself (but that’s a separate story, if any publishers are interested in it).
  3. In all the drama surrounding the Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” lawsuit — not to mention the thousands of websites that republished incorrect information — I actually got Marvin Gaye’s ex-wife Janis on the phone to confirm and deny a few things. Journalism!
  4. Wrote an essay about the 92–93 Knicks, Patrick Ewing and falling in love with basketball.
  5. Wrote about micro-fame — Rae Sremmurd, Migos and why the most popular artists aren’t really famous anymore.
  6. Wrote about writing on Medium.
  7. Profiled Jay-Z’s former BFF Damon Dash. I asked him about being a black Republican — sounding a lot like Donald Trump, come to think of it — and he got very mad. The threat of violence loomed. It was fun.
  8. Did a lot of arm-twisting, but managed to get former FOX News star Glenn Beck on the phone for an interview. He does not do a lot of press, so that was nice.
  9. Argued with cops.
  10. Learned about life from a cleaning lady.
  11. And from a Native American man.
  12. Wrote about the mafia.
  13. Wrote about Drake.
  14. Wrote about Eminem.
  15. Spent a day with Lil Mama. She told me how it felt to be one of the first people publicly-shamed by the internet.
  16. Got controversial former co-owners of The Source, Dave Mays and Ray Benzino, to do their first interview in many years. In it, they discussed the ’95 Source Awards, which changed hip-hop forever. People got angry.
  17. Hung out with Rick Ross. He licked his fiance’s face and got confused by a mojito.
  18. Talked Young Jeezy into starting a book club.
  19. Wandered around backstage at a Jay-Z concert. Sort of chilled with Beyonce.
  20. Contributed to Shea Serrano’s book The Rap Year Book. Made it a bestseller.
  21. Wrote about how the best backup plan is fuck your backup plan.
  22. Gave the real cast of Straight Outta Compton a rap trivia quiz.
  23. Waxed poetic about being mentally tired.
  24. Opined about getting older in music — a business for young people.
  25. Discussed ghostwriting.
  26. Kicked it with my Staten Island buddy Raekwon the Chef, who told me there would be yet another Wu-Tang album.
  27. Talked strippers and aliens with Big Boi and Phantogram.
  28. Watched a kid get knocked the fuck out in front of a Makonnen concert.
  29. NBA star Damian Lillard told me how he’s using Instagram to launch rap careers for himself and others.
  30. Wrote about Star Wars composer John Williams (not online *sad face emoji*)
  31. Retired from Medium.
  32. Unretired from Medium to write this post.

Postscript: I’m probably forgetting or overlooking a few cool things — some of which weren’t specifically writing projects — but that happens. Regardless, a lot of my work is self-generated. Looking back at it from that standpoint can be very rewarding.

For 2016, my professional goals include doing more exclusives pieces, working on more interesting stories, for more media companies and better brands. I’d also like to write for the screen, make more music and finally get a book in motion. Maybe I’ll even go back to work. That could be really nice.

Thoughts? Inquiries? Just want to say hello or wish me a happy new year? Reach out: paulcantor@gmail.com or 917.470.7221

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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