It Was 20 Years Ago Today Part 2



The tide of time turns quickly as we watch the clock, slowly, achingly wait for our time. It’s funny how in our younger days we crave to be just a little bit older. We want to be older because then we’ll have the cred to hang with our older brother’s friends, passing along the party favors with no hassles because you’re just too young. Once we get older the gears keep cranking and it just flies by. That is why we must assess and even flip the script by flipping time over onto itself. One way to experience this flip-over is to look back at the songs and albums that made us move twenty years ago.

For all you who slept on part 1, check it out in the back pages of my blog history, I began with the January releases and spanned out to the beginning of May, 1994. Let us keep it moving with the sounds we heard after a long day of Middle School, or High School, and sitting down in front of the MTV and BET!

On May 10th, 1994 I sat down in front of the tube and was introduced to Weezer and their many videos of grunge angst filled poetry in motion. They lamented the olden days with “Buddy Holly” and they sang of love lost on “Say It Ain’t So,” all beaming from their self-titled debut, also known as the Blue Album. Of course one of my favorites, and yours, is the song and video for the song “Undone – The Sweater Song.”

It’s a great song in the way it steadily rises to its peak by the end of its coda. Apparently the song was supposed to be a sad song, but fans took it to be a funny take on an inanimate abject, your sweater. The video works very well as its sweater-less and all done in one unbroken take, by a young video-maker by the name of Spike Jonze.

A week later my older brother showed me that he got the new Beastie Boys tape, their fourth album and one of their best, Ill Communication. This was a new take on the 1990’s sound for the Beasties as they went back from the instrumentation laden sound of Check Your Head, The new album was a return to the old school Hip-Hop flavor with more beats and samples, some very obscure samples at that. There were many great songs, and videos made, from the album that would spin your audio tunes. We have the great hard rock hitting “Sabotage,” which was the biggest hit from  the album, “Sure Shot,” which was a break from the past with their lyrics while using the old school crew formula of the back-and-forth call and response lyrical delivery.

Although we heard the Beastie Boys party debauchery of License to Ill, to the mind expanding experimentation of Paul’s Boutique, it was Ill Communication that solidified my fanfare towards the group. It was this album that really put me onto the Beastie Boys. It was also funny that the green tape might hint at an Irish background, when all of them are New York City Jews. Gotta love Hip-Hop, and RIP MCA.

I was never such a huge fan of the late great Heavy D. but one his best singles, among many in the past, came out in May of 1994.

Heavy made sure to use his big frame to make it clear that he had nothing but love for the ladies. The video, with a young Chris Tucker, and chock full of models, shows that fun and playful side of that New Jack Swing era of rap music. It sad that rap music has lost its sense of humor cause we need it. Thanks Heavy D RIP, we got nothing but love for you. The same day that Heavy D.’s album dropped another debut album dropped that was disparately different from the new jack style.

Jeru the Damaja had been on the scene already being part of Gangstarr’s foundation crew along with Group Home, Big Shug, and Freddie Fox. He dropped some crazy guest rhymes on Gangstarr’s albums Daily Operation and Hard to Earn, as well as a gust spot on Digable Planets’ Blowout Comb. Jeru then stepped out on his own, and gave the world this amazing classic, with the masterful help of DJ Premier who produced the entire album. The album is a call for the purity while swinging through the various spheres jumping through the various planes of existence. I was floored, and remained as I kept listening to it over and over again. Every song had its theme whether it was the pride of Brooklyn, or a metaphoric run through the borough battling ignorance and other forms of negative manifestations. Here’s the video for that song titled Can’t Stop the Prophet.”

There are other great videos for songs like “D. Original” and “Come Clean,” which are great historical documents depicting the disheveled parts of Brooklyn. Great stuff, and the next album tried to save Hip-Hop music, but that was 1996.

Summer vacation was fun as I was ready to move on to the next grade and the crop of great music. On June 7th one group that was eaten up as a fake Pearl Jam dropped their second album. I don’t care of the opinions because I loved Stone Temple Pilots, and this is their best album. Their first album, Core, had some great tunes including “Plush,” the song we all heard and still hear over and over again.However, it was the second album Purple that expanded their sound into a greater alternative swirls with psychedelic flair. The album’s singles were pushed one right after the other at a breakneck speed. Songs like “Vasoline,” “Pretty Penny,” and “Unglued” are examples of that depth and evolution from their last album. The song “Big Empty,” which has a great bluesy riff, which rises up to its great peaks as the waves crash by the end of the song. The song will forever be imprinted in my mind with scenes from the film The Crow, which used the song. It was a dark song for a dark film, so 1994.

That same day also saw the release of the full album by Warren G, on the Def Jam label. This was one of the biggest disappointments of that year, because the single for the song “Regulate” dropped months earlier.

The second single for the song “This DJ” was also pretty good, but the delay and the trite material on the album was too little too late.

Although I shied away from the R&B tip in the 1990’s, eschewing it for the harder and far more authentic sounding rap music. But it should be said that in June a young and talented singer by the name of Aaliyah dropped her debut album aptly titled Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.

It should not be lost that the man in the background is her producer/husband, R. Kelly. I wasn’t much of a fan, but it was a bit controversial because she was under the age of 18 when they tied the know. However, she rose over the years and made a name for herself, that unfortunately will never be forgotten due to her untimely death. RIP Aaliyah.

On June 21st a great EP dropped by a rap crew from Cincinnati, Ohio and promoted by an ex-member of N.W.A., Eazy-E.

This was my first exposure to the group, and they have such a distinct rhyme style. Each member glides at the speed of light past his lyrics and then they sing the chorus, which was not common in rap music in the past. The best song on the EP, and video, was for their seminal track titled “Thuggish Ruggish Bone.”

The template is put down when you hear in the beginning of the track the sound of an authoritarian voice saying, “We are not against rap, we are not against rappers, but we are against those thugs.” They are the thugs beaming the street signs like E. 99 as we take a quick three-minute ride down memory lane.

Let’s not forget the throwaway artists and videos we watched on our music television. Let’s never forget MC. 900 Ft. Jesus and his great video for the song “If I Only Had a Brain.” Here’s the Beavis and Butthead Treatment.

These are the May and June days, so stay tuned as we glide through the Summer and into the Fall of 1994.





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