Thursday, April 16, 2015

Good Songs XXVIII

Crumbs on the Table – D-Nice
Informer – Snow
I Left My Wallet in El Segundo – A Tribe Called Quest
We Want Eazy – Eazy-E
OPP – Naughty by Nature
Murder Rap – Above the Law
Principal’s Office – Young MC
Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em – Eric B. and Rakim
2-Hype – Kid N’ Play
Playground – Another Bad Creation
Straight Outta Compton – NWA
Funky Cold Medina – Tone Loc
Doowatchalike – Digital Underground
Mistadobalina – Del the Funkee Homosapian
Fight the Power – Public Enemy
It Takes Two – Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock
New Jack Hustler – Ice-T
The Bomb – Ice Cube
How Ya Like Me Now? – Kool Moe Dee
The Gas Face – 3rd Bass

This is the last “Good Songs” tape that I own, which means that this is the last Good Songs blog entry that I am writing. And it’s appropriate that I’m ending this nostalgia quest with a tape that is absolutely reveling in nostalgia. I created this tape in 1999* with the intent of driving around, reminiscing about the good old days.

* I’m pretty sure I subtitled this Good Songs tape “Middle School” because the songs on it definitely weren’t new school and they weren’t old enough to be old school—and by extension, neither was I. I also created a heavy metal mix tape, called Hairy Velveeta (it was cheesy hair metal, get it?) but that tape and a few other Good Songs tapes were stolen from my car one day. Hopefully that thief created a blog where he comments on tapes he stole from cars parked in Revere, MA. If he does, send me an email and we can link blogs!

It was around this time in my life where I began to slow down my consumption of new music. There were some new bands that I liked and that I’d make the effort to listen to, but new music wasn’t as available to me anymore. I had a legit career where I wasn’t able to sit in front of MTV* and be spoonfed the latest hits.

* It was also at this point that MTV decided that playing music 24 hours a day wasn’t paying the bills, so they began focusing on TV shows rather than music. If you read the oral history of MTV entitled, “I Want My MTV” you’ll understand exactly why the channel had to do that.

The radio stations that I listened to became more segmented and I concentrated mostly on rock. The late 90s were a bad time for rock music as third-generation Grunge and nü-metal was really coming into focus and bands like Creed, KoRn, Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock were the most popular acts in the country. And I got aboard that train for a little while, but that music was terrible. It was all aggression with zero intelligence, after awhile it became very boring.

Around this time I created this tape, I moved back to my parents’ house in Amesbury and perhaps I was inspired (traumatized?) by living in my old bedroom that I went back into my “old studio”. It’s not a bad mix and does a better job of capturing what I was listening to back in the day than the previous other mixes did combined.

I was a bit surprised that older mixes didn’t have any Ice-T on them because my friends and I listened to Ice-T’s “O.G.” as much as any other tape we collectively had. And I mean we listened to him a lot, even going back to his old tapes like “Power” and “Iceberg” and newer ones like “Home Invasion” and his rock/rap band: “Body Count”—which were both horrible albums.

The one thing that I never noticed was Ice-T’s very prominent lisp. It wasn’t until comedian Paul F. Tompkins brought it up on a Podcast did I start listening to Ice-T’s old stuff in a new light. The juxtaposition of a tough guy and his posturing spit out through a lisp is hilarious.

In the fall of 1991, Naughty By Nature’s “OPP” was everywhere. The title of the song was sly and subtle (at least sly and subtle for an early 90s rap song) and the background beats are awesome. Especially when you layer the Jackson 5 “ABC” cut on top of it. It was a monster hit that produced parodies (MTV got on board with “Are You Down With MTV” that featured the gang from Yo!MTV Raps rapping), t-shirts and headlines alluding to the question. It was NbN’s world that year and we were all just living in it.

I was surprised that “OPP” or at the very least “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” (their second single, which sampled Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”) wasn’t included on any Good Songs tapes. Glad to hear that I corrected that mistake.

Since I’ve written about every other song on this tape, that’s pretty much it for this edition. I didn’t exactly stop create mix tapes in 1999, I moved on to creating mix CDs and they were really bad. And not bad in a way that it was fun to listen to some of these bad Good Songs mixes. They were bad in a God-I-never-want-to-listen-to-this-garbage-again, I mean Fred Durst was involved. The fact is, I have the CD booklet in my car and there have been times where I’ve tried listening to the tracks and it’s not good. Maybe in 10 years I’ll revisit, but I’m not ready to do so today.

In the next few days I’ll probably do a Good Songs wrap up where I figure out which track was on the most tapes (early bet is something by Lenny Kravitz, probably “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”) and some other odds and ends.

Regrets? I’ve had a few. The one thing that I wish that I had done differently was make “Funky Cold Medina” the last song on this tape. Why? Because it was the very first track on “Good Songs I” and that would have made for some nice symmetry. Good Songs could have been a Rust Cole infinity circle, man. Start with “Funky Cold Medina” and just keep on going and going and going and going until you get back to the drink that knocks you out. But that’s the thing about life and endings, it is very rare that you understand that something is going to end and that you have the foresight to have it end in a place where it began. 

Thank you for reading and thank you for the comments. For me, this has been a really fun writing exercise and an interesting trip down memory lane. I hope that you enjoyed it too. 

No comments: