Its June and its Pride Month! The rainbow flags are out and the gay babies are getting their jush! So in honor of this gayest month ever I wanted to share some albums that played a pivotal role in my life. These albums not only helped fine tune my musical tastes but they were also very telling that there was a little sugar in my tank. Theres no order so one isn’t more important than the others. Lets begin shall we?
Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds Vol 1
Hello Hello Hello Hello….I remember writing those words in my high school Daily Agenda notebook (shoutout to BCIT). Actually lets back up a bit, I was still a little boy in Trenton NJ when I first heard ” OrMaybeWeCanSeeAMovieOrMaybeWeCanSeeAPlayOnSaturday…”I remember it like it was yesterday. Again I was in the car going lord knows where with my mother and little sister. I finally graduated to front seat privileges and my baby sister was still a new born so she hogged the back seat. For some reason the radio was turned to Power 99, the local station that played all the latest Hip-Hop and R&B. Usually the radio station STAYED on 105.3, I grew up on Patty Jackson and the greats. But this one day I heard a different voice and I got excited. I grew antsy because I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be listening to this vulgar type of music. So I slowly turned the volume up a bit, just enough so that my mother wouldn’t notice (we don’t share the same “musical ear”). The next song came on and I was perplexed…..WHO IS THIS?? WHO IS JILL SCOTT?!?! I remember hearing a medley of words being put together, I thought she was a new rapper! I couldnt catch the words I just kept hearing OR MAYBE…OR MAYBE…OR MAYBE. I think I bugged my mom for the next few days about that song, so much that one day I came home to the bootleg version of the album. Yes bootleg, there was a guy off Calhoun St that sold the latest movies and music, everybody knew about him. I knew my mom talked to my step dad about it and I knew he would get it for me! So to my delight I hurried and tore off the plastic. I looked at the cover and thought……WHERES HER FACE?! I tossed the plain looking CD into my new Ice Blue radio I had got for Christmas that previous year and thats when I fell in love with poetry for the second time in my life. Mind you I’m only about 10 or 11 so my fascination with words and art and poetry started very very early. I immediately turned to track 5 and wore it out! I played that one track from sun up to sun down studying the words. Since I had the bootleg CD I didnt have the booklet available to study the lyrics so I had to learn the old fashioned way. Took me a minute but i got it! When I did i was so excited I called my mom in to show her what I had learned. I remember parading around with my baby sister in my arms singing….YOURE HERE IM PLEASED…my mom couldnt believe that I learned that entire song and sang it on key like I wrote it my dam self. I felt so accomplished that I moved onto Honey Molasses….then Love Rain…..then Getting In The Way. Pretty soon I was able to sing the entire album with ease, I thought I was Jill Scott and you couldnt tell me nothing! Jump forward to the high school notebook. I was bored and it was the end of the year and I didnt need to use it all anymore so I decided to fill the blank pages with my favorite songs. I penned Exclusively almost as if I was back to my 10 year old self learning it for the first time. Well……some folks who shall remain nameless dipped into my book bag and and read my “Musical Diary”. Needless to say I was teased for the remainder of the year about it. BUT it helped me get into an Honors English class so….thats that!
So I was always a Michael Jackson fan. I had all the cassettes, I had the Thriller vinyl, I had the VHS tapes I HAD EVERYTHING! I didnt know who Janet Jackson was until I watched Poetic Justice. As a child no movie was taboo, I was able to watch anything I wanted and you want to know how?? My lovely big sister! Its because of her that I was able to experience the great movies of the 90’s. Having a deaf big sister was sometimes hard because of the language barrier but we always bonded over movies. Whatever new movie that happened to come out a the time she would beg our mom to go see it and me, being the little pest that I was, would follow along. So Poetic Justice had came out on VHS and we all took a family trip Blockbuster up on Olden Ave. Im just really showing my age here arent I? Well I picked out a video game and my sister got Poetic Justice. From the moment I saw Janet with those braids I was hooked!! To sum that experience up I started wearing all black and I started writing poetry all because of that movie. Anyway one day my cousin was over and we were digging through my moms cassettes. I came across a black one….a black cassette?!? I didnt know they came in black!! I threw the tape in the big black radio with the 6 speakers hooked up to it in the living room and heard 5…4..3..2..1! The scene was something to see honestly. My cousin and I started jamming on the one. Two black boys getting their lives to Ms. Jackson. He probably doesnt remember this particular day but I can still see us jumping up and down, trying to do the latest dance moves, I think it was the butterfly and the percolator back then. MTV was still in its pure form, meaning it showed music videos all day everyday because well….Music Television, Janet was all over the network. I dont know why I never put two and two together but after that the love that I had for Michael transferred over to Janet, she was and still is my queen!
Erykah Badu: Live
KEEP IN MIND IM AN ARTIST AND IM SENSITIVE ABOUT MY SHIT!! Sistuhs How Yall Feel? Bruthas Yawl Awlright? This album came out in ’97 and I was 7 years old running around Pakside Avenue talmbout CAAAWWWWWLLL TYRRROOOOOOONNNNE! I didnt know who or what Tyrone was I just knew you had better tell him to come on and help you get your shit! Maybe I was too grown for my own good back then but I was hypnotized by the sight of Erykah Badu. She held me captive in her head wraps, she birthed me with her ankh, she “woke” me up with her words. Growing up on Trenton I never saw anyone wear a headwrap, I never saw people walking around in Kinte cloth and African garb with locs in their hair. I was intrigued and I was amazed and I wanted to call Tyrone. Once again my step dad went to the bootleg man on Calhoun and got me the Live album, he inadvertently created this monster that you all know today. So yall check it, one day my young self was hanging in the living room with all the adults when I was supposed to be in my room sleeping. I was always up under my elders and in the mix, I really only started hanging with the neighborhood kids when things went bad in the house but thats a story for a different time. Well, we were all skinning and grinnin’ eating fried fish with that good Louisiana Hot Sauce and cabbage just laughing and carrying on. Being the jokester as usual my step dad quoted Ms Badu, I think he did that because he knew my smart mouth was gonna clap back with line from Tyrone. My young self boldly stood up and said EVERYTIIIIIME WE GO SOMEWHERE I GOTSTA REACH DOWN IN MY PUUURRRRRRSSSEEE TO PAY YO WAY AND MY MAMA WAY…. theatrical as ever I reached down into my shirt pulling out imaginary money from my imaginary bra. The hollers and laughter that followed just solidified that I was a fool and had no sense whatsoever.
The Boy Is Mine
Whew this is when my inner homo came jumping out honey! My young gay black behind was running around the hood sanging The Boy Is Mine! You couldnt tell me I wasnt Brandy AND Monica. Initially I was a hardcore Brandy fan mainly because my big sister name is Brandy, I was always making corny connections like that. But this song made me notice Monica enough to ask for the album but this time I had the actual and factual album. No bootleg this time! Pulling out the cassette booklet and reading the words and credits and looking at the artwork gave me everlasting life. I’ll admit that the video made crush on Mehki a bit but Larenz Tate was still number one in my book (I loved the movie The Inkwell). Anywaaaaaaayyy I think I may have annoyed everyone in the house with that album especially when I fell in love with Misty Blue and The First Night. I think I learned the choreography to The First Night in one day, my fat self knew all the dances back then. Being that I was so young I didnt know what gay was, I didnt know it was “wrong” to sing those songs and to emulate Monica. I remember vividly before I started the new school year my step dad called from work as he usually did to check up on us. I was so excited to be going back to school ( I was such a nerd) but my spirit was crushed when he said “…..when you get to school try not to sing that song around people..” I knew what he meant but I still didnt understand his intent. I thought he meant to not disrupt the class or get in trouble with the teacher or whatever but then I realized that he meant dont act so….gay. My hardheaded ass didnt listen and I was teased for a bit until the girls in my class came to up to me asking to teach them the words to the song so…..thats that.
Now if this wasnt evidence enough that I was gay I dont know what was. I got the Rainbow album for Christmas in 99. That was actually the best Christmas we ever had PERIOD! Usually we celebrated the holiday in January because of money issues but this year things were just going very very veerrryyy well. My little sister was born in January and the house was just at peace. I wrote out my Christmas list like I do every year wishing and hoping that I could get at least 5 things under the tree. I wanted some Pokemon bedsheets, my Ice Blue radio and matching walkman, some video games of course and the only album I wanted at the time was Rainbow. We went to Kmart and my mom let me go wild. Layaway was the wave at the time, we would go every week and put some money down on this big order and every time I would reach in that cart where they kept our stuff and I would just stare at the cover. Back then I didnt know the rainbow was like a gay symbol I just wanted to listen to the Heartbreaker remix. I honestly only listened to Heartbreak (the remix and original) and the Cant Take That Away. I didnt get into the rest of the album until years later. But anyway surprise surprise I wore that CD out so much that the entire rainbow on the front of the actual CD was scratched down to just one color. There was one gay ass happenstance, it was the end of the school year (5th Grade spring 2000) and the two 5th grade classes had a big party. We always had some type of celebration or party going on in that trailer….yes the two 5th grade classes were in a trailer behind the school. So this one time I brought in my Rainbow CD just to play my favorite two songs. Baby when I heard that GUESS WHOS BACK IN THE MUDDUH FUCKIN HOUSE my inner queen came AAWWWWWLLLLL THE WAY OUT! But my teachers were living for it and started hyping me up. Thinking on it I was the center of attention a lot back then…thats so not the case now (those that know me dont clock me).
Of course there are more albums to this list, the next portion will shed light on how they effected my emotional growth as a young adolescent gay that didnt realize he was gay until it was too late