About two years ago, I decided to listen to 97.9 The Box over the course of a weekend. This was before the station implemented a not-secret but widely understood policy of supporting locals. It was hypersexualized. It was gross. It dealt with more Rick Ross detailing his sexual prowess than I ever wanted to imagine.
That was July 2012; a lot has changed since then. Houston, once an arena dominated by one rap-radio titan, now has three stations. iHeartMedia's 93.7 The Beat is now up against The Box, which is owned by Radio One, which stunted last week by shuttering its News92 format in favor of B92 -- an all-Beyoncé station -- before dropping an even bigger bomb: classic hip-hop radio.
Boom 92 arrived at 5 p.m. Monday by playing the Geto Boys, Houston's version of Public Enemy. To those in the know, it was more than esoteric. A random discussion with a friend and Rakim(!), of all people, earlier this year brought up the need of a classic hip-hop station. And now, it arrived.
But the question is, is it any good? Would I be subjecting people to Boom 92 with every tweet, snapchat and body gyration I could think of? Probably. There are three levels of hip-hop to me: classic, current and "turn your brain off and enjoy it." That latter bubble? Think Migos, Young Thug, and Bobby Shmurda's "Hot Nigga" record. The current? Anything by Drake, Lil Wayne, and whatever time you figure "Drunk In Love" or "On the Run" will factor into your life.
My life needed this station, basically.
7:44 a.m. (Tuesday) "Get Low" by the Lil Jon is the first song -- on a Tuesday morning. The problematic thing about defining "classic" hip-hop is that it's such an arbitrary term. What truly makes something a classic? Age? The number of times a girl crushed your heart and you heard that song? Let's go with age here. "Get Low" arrived in the middle of the crunk era, also known as my favorite party era, bar none.
At least nobody I know got swung on at the club or any school dance I hit at the time.
7:59 a.m. I can't believe that almost two and a half decades have passed since Positive K played both roles on his "I Got a Man" track. I mean, we're talking some serious dirty macking here. I'm now convinced, at 26, that Positive K's only "game" was that he had a bunch of material things and gave little care as to how long a chick was in a relationship. He just wanted to bone and move on.
8:02 a.m.- Tag Team's "Whoop There It Is" was my second favorite song of summer camp in 1995, after Dr. Dre's "Keep Their Heads Ringin'." Guess which one I got in trouble for repeating the chorus, especially stretching the "ding-a-ding" part?
8:05 a.m.Jay Z, back when he had the hyphen and could care less about a chick's feelings, gave us "Can I Get A...", which kind of kept Amil around for another year and introduced Ja Rule to a national audience. Lord knows he didn't even notice how Ja would become Tupac-like before 50 Cent came and destroyed everything in sight.
For those keeping score at home, the only record thus far from the 2000s has been a Lil Jon song. Lil. Jon.
8:10 a.m. Forget that last time-stamp, Baby Bash's "Suga Suga," aka the song every little Mexican kid at Thurgood Marshall High School sang to get a little girlfriend, just popped up. That was 2003 and Baby Bash, for the tiniest millisecond, had replaced South Park Mexican as the most popular Hispanic rapper in history.
8:15 a.m. I'm an old soul at heart, but dammit if I'm not thinking of every older woman I ever lusted after in my head when I hear LL Cool J's "Around the Way Girl". Yes, more LL.
8:19 a.m. There may have not been a more important rap song in 1994 than Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy." As much as I want to lie to you and say that Nas' "It Ain't Hard to Tell" was the definitive East Coast record of that year, it pales in comparison to this. It's like watching J.J. Watt versus whomever is the second-best defensive end in football. It's that fucking far of a distance.
With that Mtume sample and name-dropping Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, Biggie made 7-year-old me wonder why did a heavy-set dude immediately run to get THOSE items for his new house as opposed to like a Playstation. Shit, he was rich, why not get something nobody else has?
8:23 a.m. I'll give Chingy this: for a brief moment when St. Louis could have legit called itself a rap hotbed, he was a twangy demigod. (Only three major acts have been from there in Nelly, Chingy and "shit, I had two great singles then I acted like I went missing" J-Kwon.) The man introduced the heel-toe into my life. For that, I can't really knock him too far. Nor can I knock Boom 92 so far.
8:26 a.m. OutKast. "Ms. Jackson." Don't think there's ever been a better letter to a mother that you'll stick by her crazy-ass daughter who just so happens to be Erykah Badu, ever.
8:32 a.m. HOLY SHIT QUINT BLACK. Quick backstory. In 1999, I really thought I could shove everybody out of the way in life by rapping lyrics from Eminem's The Slim Shady LP, singing Donell Jones' Where I Wanna Be and in ever the case of a fight, Quint Black's "Shake Dem Hatas Off." Sad point was, I never knew who the hell Quint Black was. Or what he even looked like.
Flash-forward about three years when I discovered Kazaa and immediately started looking for D-12 tracks. (I was a huge Eminem fan at 12, fight me), old Wreckshop and Swishahouse freestyles and "Shake Dem Hatas Off." Then I eventually Googled Quint Black thinking he was some rap superhero, a large mountain of a man who just had a squelchy voice because the rest of his body had filled out to amazing proportions.
Then I saw him.
And was saddened that he was just probably around my 14-year-old height and build. Then and there I promised myself, "Never believe another rapper and what they may tell you. Ever."
8:36 a.m.Young MC is not performing "Bust A Move" on Boom 92 right now. He's just streaming live via satellite from Reliant Stadium waiting for his next chance to be the halftime act at a Texans game.
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For the next hour or so, I lost track of time and went into a region-jumping, emotion-throwing zone. First, Snoop Dogg's "What's My Name" made me do the Bankhead Bounce. Then 2Pac's "So Many Tears" -- aka one of the few Me Against the World tracks I knew word-for-word at age 7 -- made me immediately want to run through a wall and drop an elbow from the top rope. Then and THEN BY GOD UGK'S POCKET FULL OF STONES HIT and it felt like I had won a personal championship that nobody could take from me.
Boom 92 had given a kid like me something to believe in. If only for an hour or so. Then Wednesday morning they hit me with a slick double whammy of LL Cool J's "Doin It" and Too Short's "Freaky Tales," a song should never be heard around your parents. Much like 97.9 trying to troll my sex life two years ago, Boom 92 wanted to do the same.
Albeit far more directly and fun.
So after checking for 92.1 just for my weather and traffic every ten minutes and then avoiding it for a week and then somehow always catching Beyonce's "Me Myself & I," I now probably have a rap station I can listen to without feeling any sort of way about my life around my parents.
Because I asked my dad once to transcribe Young Thug's chorus from "Lifestyle" and he promptly responded, "He ain't Six Pack or Little Biggie, or Eminem's 'Lose Yourself,' leave me alone with this."
Never get old, dad, and enjoy your new format, Boom 92.
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