My Mixtape Monday – October 12, 2015

First Name: Natalie
Twitter: @NatalieCerino
Sex: Female
Age: 32

Occupation: Unknown

Mixtape Name: New York, New York

Side A: Where Are They Now
1) Shook Ones Pt. II by Mobb Deep
2) Flava in Your Ear (Remix) by Craig Mack feat. Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J
3) New York by Ja Rule ft. Fat Joe and Jadakiss
4) Deja Vu by Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz
5) I’ll Be by Foxy Brown ft. Jay-Z
6) Crush On You by Lil’ Kim ft. Lil’ Cease

Side B: Heavy Hitters
7) Made You Look by Nas
8) Get By by Talib Kweli
9) I’m Not A Player by Big Pun (not to be confused with Still Not A Player, which is fun, but this is the better song)
10) Ms. Fat Booty by Mos Def
11) C.R.E.A.M. by Wu-Tang Clan
12) All About the Benjamins by Puff Daddy ft. Lil’ Kim, The LOX, Notorious B.I.G.

Liner Notes: I grew up in the southernmost part of Connecticut, in a semi-urban area on the water that doubled as a suburb of New York City—a fact that we who lived there had a chip on our shoulders about.

My friends and I started middle school in 1995, undoubtedly the time when hip-hop hit its stride, and we started listening to it as if doing so was some act of rebellion inherent to it. It was altogether different from our parents’ ‘rebellious’ music, or the music we listened to in our younger years, and that severance between generations and time is what made it so appealing.

Of course, the ‘fun’ part of New York’s hip-hop culture had its own appeal – the parties, the cars, the endless flow of money – but we were far removed from the neighborhoods and experiences that culture sprang from.

WQHT in New York, or Hot 97– where Funkmaster Flex, DJ Clue, and Wendy Williams, among others, got their start – was the only local radio station that played hip-hop all day. It blared over the airwaves from The City through shitty speakers, in beat up cars we financed with birthday money and part-time jobs. It was the station back then, and we’d sit in those cars late, late at night – doing things we shouldn’t have, no doubt – listening to rap battles between unknown artists who might next year become millionaires.

We didn’t know it then, but we grew up during a special era of music that has not been recreated or duplicated since. It’s a lot like adolescence in that we didn’t know how good we had it, until we were adults and it was already over.

Noticeably missing from this list: tracks from Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, who should both invariably make it, but there’s simply too many to mention. Plus, who hasn’t been in a bar on a recent Friday night and heard one (or both) of them come on the jukebox? Their music is still a part of what we listen to and very much so (though they both had a hand in producing many of these tracks and cameo in a few of them).

This mixtape is a tribute to that era, that City, the people who experienced it and made music about it. It was music we could relate to, but couldn’t, in many ways, but unreservedly immersed ourselves in anyway. I still do.

YouTube Playlist link: New York, New York

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