The less antisocial among you know that talking about music is one of the best icebreakers there is. To get to know our staff a little better, Rocks Off will periodically be asking them to share a few songs that helped to shape their musical tastes - and character. We start with our youngest member, Fall Music Intern and U of H Print Journalism major Charne Graham, born in 1988. "I'm more than grateful that I grew up in the 90's," she says. "These songs will always bring me back to that exact moment."
15. The Jackson 5, "Enjoy Yourself" (1977): My father played this song when I would visit him on weekends as a child. This song always made me laugh because of the stalkerish chorus: "Enjoy yourself with me, you better enjoy yourself, you better enjoy yourself..."
14. Big Pun, "It's So Hard" (2000): This song came out in 2000 and I was 12 years old. It was the first single on Big Pun's album Yeeeah Baby, released a few months after his tragic death. I remember very clearly visiting family in Houston when I purchased the album at Best Buy on Richmond, and I played it from start to finish repeatedly. I still have the CD today.
13. Ma$e, "Feel So Good" (1997): Ma$e was one of my first mental rapper boyfriends. This was Diddy's Bad Boy Era of the shiny suits. I was nine years old when my mom convinced me she got Ma$e to perform at our family Christmas party. I was shaking and in tears when the lights were dimmed and I was expecting Ma$e to appear in my aunt's living room. Of course I was disappointed when it was just my cousin dancing around holding a huge poster of Ma$e.
12. Switchfoot, "Meant to Live" (2003): This song has always been a favorite of mine. It was a single released when I was 15 years old. I'll always remember it because it came on the TV in my best friend's basement the morning after we snuck in and had a raging party. This song woke me up and will forever remind me of my first hangover. Teen drinking is very bad, by the way.
11. Nas, "Ether" (2001): I heard this song everywhere I went when it dropped. I was in the seventh grade and everyone knew the lyrics. The opening "Fuck Jay-Z" line made jaws drop alone. No one has dissed Jay-Z better, and I highly doubt anyone can.
10. Ghost Town DJs, "My Boo" (1996): Although I was only eight years old, then I was in love with bass music at the time. This song made me feel so good and always reminds me of summertime. I remember my mom searching high and low for the cassette with the song but we could never find the original. There were so many remixes, and I eventually had to settle for recording the song from the radio.
9. Marilyn Manson, "The Dope Show" (1998): Like most American parents, mine would not allow Marilyn Manson to be played in the house, so we would have to sneak and listen. I was only 10 years old, so I was a little afraid of Mr. Manson and his costumes. When the video network The Box would play "Dope Show," it caught my attention because of the lyrics. I couldn't help but to keep watching and paid no mind to the fact that I wasn't sure if Marilyn was a man or woman.
8. Trick Daddy feat. Trina, "Nann" (1998): In elementary school, my friends always looked to me to be the DJ of every party. So for a fifth-grade pizza party at school, I brought all my cassettes in to play on the classroom stereo. I thought I semi-edited my tapes for school, but Trick Daddy and Trina came on holding nothing back. Everyone loved it. I was devastated when my teacher told me I was playing the "devil's music" and my DJ privileges had been revoked.
7. Yo-Yo feat. Ice Cube, "You Can't Play Wth My Yo-yo" (1991): It was New Year's Eve the first time I heard this song. I was 16 years old and my older cousin knew every word. The song felt so good. I never wanted to be a teenager in the '90s more than that moment.
6. Master P feat. Silkk The Shocker, Fiend, Mystikal & Mia X, "Make em Say Uhh!" (1997): There comes a point in life when you think you are a "No Limit Soldier" and this song confirms it. The video had everything from gold tanks and confetti-laced basketball courts. Everyone's verse was great to my nine-year-old ears. I made sure my mom purchased my army-fatigue short set when this song was a hit.
5. Spice Girls, "Wannabe" (1996): Almost every little girl was obsessed with the Spice Girls around this time. It was all about girl power and British women rapping. This was the ultimate sleepover pillow-fight jam.
4. Kanye West, "Through the Wire" (2004): As a Chicago native, this song will always mean something to me. Each time I hear it I feel home. I'll never forget when Kanye performed this song in '04 at my high school for a surprise concert. It was a free show for students with perfect attendance, and I ditched class to sneak in.
3. Junior M.A.F.I.A., "Get Money" (1996): This is the best Biggie and Lil' Kim collaboration ever. The song is still played in parties and gets love like it's 1996. The song is so passionate, I can't help but think that Biggie and Kim wrote this with each other in mind.
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2. Geto Boys, "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" (1991): My parents played this song a lot when I was a kid. I always think it's cool when my parents like a rap song. My Dad still knows all the lyrics. When I moved to Houston, I realized this song was a classic.
1. Bun B feat. Pimp C, Young Jeezy, Z-Ro & Jay-Z, "Get Throwed" (2006): This song established my move to Houston. I was still a senior in high school and looking at schools. When I came to visit a family member and heard "Get Throwed" at a party, the energy in the room was hypnotic. I realized that Houston loves their music and this is where I wanted to be.