I never know what to say when I meet new people. I am usually torn between sharing superficial information (i.e. my alma mater or hometown) and performing a stupid human trick (pass me that cherry stem). For centuries, humans have attempted to express themselves in various forms: personal aesthetic (hair, clothing, tattoos, etc.), bumper stickers and even tombstones. However, no form of expression is more telling that one’s musical palette. I am not my hair, but I am my playlist. So, pardon me while I unfurl this scroll…
Hoodrats, Scholars, Weirdos, lend me your ears! I hereby present my completely incomplete life soundtrack:
Curtis Mayfield- Superfly (1972)
Though this album was released prior to the American Crack Epidemic, the imagery this album still resonates with me, the child of a crack-addicted mother. Mr. Mayfield was a musical genius, telling our stories without apology. Some of the blackest music ever recorded.
Little Child Running Wild
Solange- A Seat at the Table (2016)
There are a plethora of pieces already written about carefree black girls and this beautiful composition. I won’t bore with my rhetoric. I will say that as a quirky black girl, it was refreshing and validating to hear another Eccentric be so free to share her struggles with depression, anxiety, and love.
Where Do We Go
Jay-z- Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life (1998)
This is the first rap album I remember purchasing at the music store in the mall. I was 14 years old at the time and proudly strutted my geeky ass up to the counter to purchase the CD I had heard one of my friends bump in their car on the way home from school. This album takes me back to the days of writing raps in my notebook and battling the neighbor boys at house parties.
If I Should Die
Nigga What, Nigga Who
Money, Cash, Hoes
T.I- I’m Serious (2001)
Calling all Dope boys! Come here and let Mama give you a hug. One thing you need to know about me is that I have a soft spot for the hood fellas. The slang, the ATL accent, the hypermasculine performance…oh, my! swoons
Do It (Stick It Baby)
What’s Yo Name
Project Pat- Layin’ Da Smack Down (2002)
“Dark skin and gold teeth, yeah you know we in now,” I remember playing this tape (because best friend’s car didn’t have a CD player) until it broke Growing up in a drug and crime infested community helped me to see these so-called thugs as human. Pat took along for the ride as he chronicled his quest for money, drugs, and revenge on informant ass snitches. I watched little boys who came from a similar background as me, not have the same outcome as me. The streets were calling them, the pressure to make money and “come up” haunted them.
Make Dat Azz Clap
Nirvana- Nevermind (1991)
Confession: I have no idea what the hell I’m doing on this pale, blue dot rotating around a dying star. Guess who feels stupid and contagious! This gal right here. Sometimes, you don’t have coherent thoughts to match your emotion and that’s ok. It was quoted that Kurt believed that music (expression) should come before lyrics (thought). The first time I heard “I’m worst at what I do best…” I knew I had found a band/artist who could serve as a proxy for my emotional and unbothered disposition.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Come as You Are
Linkin Park- Hybrid Theory (2000)
So many unresolved issues from my childhood began to work themselves out when I left home for college. I remember listening to this album, in my freshman dorm room, crying my eyes out. I had never allowed myself to process the trauma that was my reality. I learned that every now and then, it is okay to break some shit.
In the End
One Step Closer
Michael Jackson- Off the Wall (1979)
When I’m not hugging hustlers and crying about my insignificant existence, I am sweating to the oldies. Like the middle-aged auntie I’m becoming, I love to dance while I cook and clean. I’m the first one on the dancefloor at the family reunion. If a Michael Jackson album (or three) isn’t in your life soundtrack, we can’t be friends. Sorry, not sorry.
Rock with You
Don’t Stop til You Get Enough
Pretty Ricky- Bluestars (2005)
Allow me to let my inner ratchet hang out for a minute. Pretty Ricky represents the sexually playful side of me. The album is explicit and innocent, melodic and grimy. Who didn’t like a little slow grinding and sweating in the club? This kind of music is the other side of the hood fella coin.
Grind With Me
Shorty Be Mine
Fleetwood Mac- self-titled (1975)
“Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’, ’cause I’ve built my life around you…” Who the hell is cutting onions in here?! The vocal stylings of Steve Nicks are gritty, yet pure. Her style, reminiscent of a forest sorceress, is still a look out here in the streets. The album is about love, occult spirituality, nature, and loss. Into my feelings, I go.
Ok, so now that you know me better, follow me on Twitter at @abuggslyfe. We are practically best friends now. Come say hi.