You may have seen this a few times already. I know that I have seen it at least five times since last night. It’s the new Kia commercial featuring life-sized hamsters driving the new Kia Soul. It wasn’t the hamsters that I found interesting, it was that the commercial featured “The Choice is Yours” by Black Sheep.
As soon as it came on, I started rapping along with the hamsters, much to the amazement of my two boys. They looked at me the same way they always do when I start acting strange. My 6 YO had an inquisitive expression on his face, like he didn’t understand what I have become and what happened to the man that used to be his father and the 8 YO had a look of inner turmoil, like he was debating internally whether to run upstairs and tell mom that I am going crazy or just crazy along with me. They are used to me singing along with heavy metal songs or quoting movies before the actors even say the words, but this caught them off guard. It was too late last night to prove to them that I knew what this song was, so I waited until today to bring it up on the iPod for them.
But the Kia commercial did more than just prove to my sons that I listen to musicians other than Slipknot and Faith No More, it brought on the urge to listen to some old school rap. I cycled through the “Rap” playlist on my iPod as we drove around performing errands today. It brought back a lot of memories hearing A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario” - “rrrooaww rrrooaww like a dungeon dragon, change your little drawers cuz your pants are saggin’” and Das EFX’s “Mic Checka” - “I miggedy-make the wonder twins deactivate.”
With every new song that came on, I did two things, first play the song in fast forward in my head to make sure there were no objectionable lyrics that would further taint the minds of my two impressionable children and second try to recall when this particular song was popular and what I would have been doing around that time. A lot of it was from the late 80s and early 90s when rap and hip-hop was becoming mainstream in suburbia. I began to remember spending summers at a friend’s house, swimming in his pool, listening to Rob Base and Slick Rick. And cruisin’ on High St. in Pottstown in a buddy’s white Dodge Shadow blasting 2 Live Crew and NWA with so much bass the windows would rattle. And the high school graduation parties with Arrested Development’s “Tennessee” and “Mr. Wendal”. And how could I forget seeing House of Pain, Body Count and Public Enemy perform live at Penn State. Ice-T and Chuck D were both taking shots at how white people dance all night long. Chuck D said at one point, “Y’all too white, if you can’t dance, at least jump in time to the beat.”
I was still into rock and metal back then, but most of my friends were not. So I listened to hip-hop when I was around them and metal when I was by myself. It wasn’t until 1991 when Anthrax released the Attack of the Killer B’s album, that I got to bring a little of my world into theirs. Anthrax partnered up with Public Enemy to do a geared up version of Public Enemy’s “Bring tha Noise”, ala Aerosmith/Run-DMC and “Walk this Way” from five years earlier. “Bring tha Noise” and Anthrax’s “I’m the Man” got me into a lot of trouble one day when I was senior in high school. It was a senior cut day which happened to land me and four of my friends at my house at 9 AM. We started by kicking my dad’s half keg of beer and then moved on to whatever else we could find. Those two songs were the theme music for all of the events of that day. At one point I remember sliding down the steps from the second floor to the first on my stomach and then vacuuming up someone’s puke. There were a few other events that I don’t want to mention in a public forum for fear of any statute of limitations that have not yet expired. I don’t think my elderly neighbors, at least the ones that were home to witness it, spoke to me for a few years after that.
I don’t know how long my trip down memory lane will last, I am not even halfway through my collection of Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, LL and others. If you have any favs from that era, let me know I will add them to my mix. For now it will be “back on the scene, crispy and clean, you can try, but then why, cause you can’t intervene.”