Maybe it’s the dawning of a new year or maybe it was the Salt N’ Pepa and TLC rocking the pub the other night, whatever it was it has caused some nostalgia in me and I was thinking about some of the awesome (read: awful) music I used to spend a lot of my time listening to. Turns out I used to be into a lot of non-threatening rap music which is odd considering now my iPod is filled with a lot of angry punk rock chalk full of violent imagery.

How far I have come.

I’m going to go ahead and skip the ones that we all listened to like “You Can’t Touch This,” “Ice Ice Baby,” and “Hangin’ Tough.” Er, I didn’t listen NKOTB, I swear, you can’t prove anything. Though it’s not like what follows is any less embarrassing. So here I give you, in no particular order, Hart’s Top 5 Favorite Songs From When He Was 10 or 11 or Maybe 9, Around That Age, You Get The Idea.

Kris Kross – “Jump”

You might be thinking that this belongs in that category listed above, and maybe it does, but so what. This stupid gimmicky rap stuff used to dominate my speakers, as this list will eventually show. Kris Kross came on to the scene and I realized there were people my approximate age who I could emulate, and I can’t be certain, but I bet my parents thought I had mental problems when I started wearing my clothes backwards. At least they kept me from going to school that way. I remember a kid in 6th grade coming to school like that and all the other kids were ruthless in their comments to him, a lot of gay jokes I didn’t understand at the time, and still kind of don’t if any one wants to explain them to me.

That was just the fashion aspect, as far as musically, the song had a great hook which always got me on me feet and ready to jump, jump. And who could forget the brilliance of these lyrics: “Some of the try to rhyme/ but they can’t rhyme like this/ some of them try to rhyme/ but they can’t rhyme like this/ some of them try to rhyme/ but they can’t.” What geniuses they were to rhyme a line with the exact same line and using it to put other less skilled rhymers in their place. With lyrics like this it was easy to understand why I chose this song over their other singles about temperature control and the inability to catch a bus.

Despite the fact that I fawned all over this band like a teenager in the 60s watching The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, to this day I still have no idea which one is the Mac Daddy and which is the Daddy Mac.

Another Bad Creation – “At The Playground”

Hey look, more children rapping about the things children rap about. Now for those of you familiar with the Another Bad Creation, or ABC, catalog then you may be wondering why I chose this song rather  than the comic book influenced “Spydermann,” well, it’s because there are so many inaccuracies in that song there is no way I can listen to it in good conscious. Besides “At The Playground” is all about how awesome the playground is, it also introduces us to the members of the group, but I think that last part happens in about half of their songs.

Watching the video now makes me wonder what was so appealing to me about these little bastards. I could say it was the “East Coast Family” loyalty but I wasn’t really a big fan of Bell Biv Devoe or Boyz 2 Men so I guess I don’t have a real excuse on this one. I remember giving up on them because there was “beef” (and use that term real lightly, so lightly that mere quotation marks weren’t enough to convey the sarcastic nature of it) between them and Kris Kross, and Kris Kross were my boys.

This has got me thinking about the idea of beef in the music industry. I always felt I had to choose a side in all these feuds, but really who gives a shit? If I like the music then why should I care whether another musician likes the singer or not? Yet for some reason I always felt obligated to side with someone like I’m rooting on a sports team.

So that was the demise of me listening to children rap about their 8 year old crushes and hanging out at the playground. And you know that’s probably a good thing because as I typed that last sentence I realized it would be super creepy if I still did.

Kid N’ Play

So here’s the thing on this one, I know I used to listen to a ton of Kid N’ Play, but for the life of me I can’t recall any god damned songs I really enjoyed. Even browsing YouTube I’m coming up short. I know I owned at least two of their albums. I even recall a car ride where I was able to convince my mom to let me play one of the tapes instead of listening to usual country music I felt tortured with in every car ride. This was a golden opportunity and there is no way I blew it with just any song. Knowing how I am, I know I would have wanted to hear a specific song so there must have been one that I enjoyed above all other Kid N’ Play songs. There’s a sentence I never imagined I would ever write.

Anyway, here’s a song from an album I remember having. Oh man, what was up with Kid’s hair? That was crazy, right? Another gimmick I suppose. Apparently it was hard to get noticed as rapper in the early 90s unless you had a weirdo gimmick, or you know, were good at making rap music. And while this really doesn’t pertain to their music, I used to watch the hell out of Class Act. Bet you thought I was going to say House Party. Class Act really was not a good movie but I recorded it off Cinemax or Showtime or something and went to town on the tape. But this article is about the shitty music I used to listen to, not the shitty movies starring shitty rappers I used to watch.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – “Time to Chill”

One cassette I remembering having, and still have, is He’s the DJ I’m the Rapper from the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff. That was the one with “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and I loved that album. Now don’t get me wrong I got on board with “Parents Just Don’t Understand” like everyone else, but I really loved the cuts “Here We Go Again” and “Time To Chill.” Jazz would lay down this mellow, melodic, and chill beats while the Fresh Prince added some dope rhymes, I think I found the whitest way I could have put that.

I think this was the first time I heard rap from someone who was actually passionate and serious about the music. There were no gimmicks, just a real DJ who knew what he was doing and this big eared guy who had the ability to write good raps and flow like water. However, they did have a problem with their wardrobe. Seriously look at these stupid jackets.

The most annoying thing about this song was during the YouTube search I was overwhelmed with ads for the song “Whip My Hair”  by Willow Smith, Will Smith’s daughter. My morbid curiosity took over and I watched the video. Here are the three things I took from the viewing: 1) The hook to this song makes me feel incredibly anxious and uncomfortable and I’m not sure why 2) my points from earlier about how children shouldn’t make music received more evidence, and 3) this poor girl looks a lot like her dad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Will Smith, I enjoy his movies and some of his music, but it’s just cruel to put his goofy face and ears on a young girl.

L.L. Cool J – “Mama Said Knock You Out”

I suppose this is another song that could fall in with “Ice Ice Baby” but it doesn’t seem as popular also L.L. was able to establish himself as a real rapper and not a joke like Vanilla Ice.

This was another cassette I had. The difference though between this one and He’s the DJ I’m the Rapper is that with this one I listen to about 4 songs out of the 14 on a regular basis and the Fresh Prince was the whole thing. I remember getting up early on the weekends and putting this in the walkman then going out to play Nintendo, pausing the game so I could rewind and listen to “Mama Said Knock You Out” again. This may be the song that started me to the harder, angrier stuff. This song is raw and violent and in your face. I never knew really what the song meant, but it made me want to hit something.

I also recall him using the line, “…kinda like Shaft so you can say I’m shaftin,” then on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air there was a reference to Shaft and I asked my mom what Shaft was and she had no idea what I was talking about. I realize now that asking her about Shaft would be like asking Obama about Merle Haggard.

Those were the songs I used to rock out to when I was supposed to clean my room and as I played Mega Man 3; the songs I loved until was introduced to gangsta rap and eventually heavy metal which ultimately led me to realm that is punk rock. But this trip down the old memory radio dial has got me jonesin’ for some of these songs, so I’m going to head on over to iTunes and make some purchases I probably shouldn’t. You go enjoy the weekend jump, jumping at the playground until it’s time to chill. I’m only kid n’ playing around. Um, and mama said knock you out. Yeah that was bad from the beginning but really came apart at the end. I’ll try harder next time or better yet, I will forgo the puns.

See ya in the section of the record shop that has this early 90s shit…

lee.s.hart@crujonessociety.com

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