Songs of the Year—2000 How I learned to stop worrying and love Hip-Hop

Songs of the Year: “Yellow” Coldplay; “The Next Episode” Dr. Dre

Runners-Up: “Get Off”, The Dandy Warhols; “The Real Slim Shady” Eminem

Honorable Mentions: “Boyz N’ the Hood”, Dynamite Hack

The year with big releases by Radiohead and Greenday as well as by tertiary punk bands like Blink-182,  Sum 41 and Good Charlotte saw the charts dominated by acts from the 1980s (U2, Bon Jovi and Madonna) even as other bands released exciting albums ( Bright Eyes’ Fever and Mirrors, The White Stripes’ De Stijl, Coldplay’s Parachute, The Weakerthans’ Left and Leaving, WyClef’s mediocre Ecleftic, The Dandy Warhols’ Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia and Outkast’s Stankonia).

My Year 2000 was dominated by new technology and new contexts. I had a job doing hack writing for an Internet startup—so I was paid well to sit in my small bedroom and write all day. What did I do while writing? I listened to music. Where did the music come from? No, I was not into Napster (too much work and too much bandwidth, I had a dial-up!); I joined CD clubs again.

(Two notes: First, because of my noise-making in college I was ‘invited’ to move off campus; I found a dirt-cheap room that had been converted from an old pre-war pantry. To fit a desk into the room, the bed was raised over six feet off the floor. Second, I miss the golden age of the internet. Anyone, I mean anyone, could make money.)

I started to do what I have always done when I join CD clubs—I ordered music I had missed out on (I finally bought Weezer’s albums and Green Day’s Dookie), I started to collect everything by bands I liked (soon I possessed every Talking Heads Album) and I started to take risks. I ordered the Fugees’ first hit. I ordered The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I ordered Dr. Dre’s 2001.

What brought about this sea change? Here’s where the other contexts come in. I balanced my sedentary lifestyle by turning my occasional feints with the gym into a daily routine. Rather than saddle myself with a CD player (this was before the iPod, mind you) I gave in and listened to whatever was playing on the radio. It wasn’t until I moved to this godforsaken state that I entered a gym that didn’t play hip-hop.

The problem with, or the magic of, music is that even if you really hate something to begin with, given enough time, the music undermines your convictions. It starts innocently. First, you hate the music. Then you sing along to mock it. Before you know it, the irony drains from you and you end up genuinely appreciating when a song plays.

I used to go to the gym, from time to time, with the Historian who had, on many occasions, tried to convince me of the value of hip-hop. My game in the weight room was to quote to him lines from songs that had played during our time there to show how ridiculous they were out of context (or even in). So, for instance, I would pass him in the hall and say “Hey, when you’re out in the club, don’t think I’m not” or, more typically “Hey, hey, baby, I’ve got your money”.

I distinctly remember standing at the far side of a weight room and hearing Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode” for the millionth time. While doing curls or some ridiculous thing like that, I found myself moving to the beat, listening to the lyrics and connecting the dots between the Dr. Dres I had known in my life. See, I remembered NWA and The Chronic. I never liked “Gin and Juice” and all of that—but there was something about “The Next Episode” that I could not avoid or deny. So I gave in. I ordered the album.

The next context that dominated the year was the Bar. Or Bars. For the first time, my friends were predominantly people old enough to go to bars where the radio wasn’t playing and where random strangers selected our background music from the jukebox. Hip-hop was the mainstay, of course, but I also  remember hearing Coldplay’s “Yellow” for the third or fourth time and, through the haze of cigarette smoke and Bushmills, believing it to be an utterly sublime song. On this occasion, I told the Historian of my conviction. He mocked me. He mocked the song. I don’t know if he ever learned to like it.

2000 was also a year of outdoor parties. A final memory. One night, at a graduation party in the middle of a quad with refreshments provided for free, I found myself dancing in the rain with a woman who was over six feet tall and wearing leather pants. As a man of average height who does not dance to begin with, this was a challenging situation. In addition, I was, for reasons better left unsaid, unsteady on my feet.

The songs that played back to back? DMX’s “Up in Here” and Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady.” The details of the evening that led to that moment and issued from it are not that important, but the final result is. Well into the AM, a kind friend dropped me off at my apartment after rescuing me from the stoop of the apartment of someone I had just met. Somewhere during the evening, I had lost track of the Giantess. It seems that in the meantime I had made a mess of myself and a fool to boot.

not someone to mess with

When I got home, the world was upended and it was all I could do to stumble inside the crumbling house and climb the ladder up to my bed. Upon lying down, those two songs from earlier in the evening had become one. Together, DMX and Eminem were shouting in my head: “Please stand UP in Here”. But, alas, when your bed is six feet off the floor, there is nowhere safe to stand

Horrors: Disturbed, Nickelback, ‘NSync’s No Strings Attached; Oops…I did it Again; Black and Blue by the Backstreet Boys, “Californication”, Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Independent Women”, Destiny’s Child, “It Wasn’t Me”, Shaggy, “Kryptonite”, 3 Doors Down

11 comments on “Songs of the Year—2000 How I learned to stop worrying and love Hip-Hop

  1. […] “Gin and Juice,” Snoop Dog […]

  2. professormortis says:

    But how could you forget our intro to Coldplay? We had just gotten cable. It included BBC America. They were showing a British music award show. Coldplay won every damn award, but, thanks to the accents, we couldn’t figure out the name. “Did they say Copley? Coleplay? Co-Play?” I still will say, in my terrible faux British accent “Co-Play”. Haven’t been won over, but I married a fan, so I am the damned.

    It’s kind of funny that I was trying to convince you that Hip Hop was okay, since I was a very recent convert! I believe that the CD Club that I also joined that year brought me Public Enemy (I think The Chronic was a gift from the Little
    Madwoman) which I also tried to get you into to no avail. I’m not ashamed to admit I loved a lot of not-so-great rap at the time. “Big Pimpin” and “Up in Here” included.

    How could you skip the horrors of matchbox 20 and all those damned Santana duets? Creed! Pink! “The Way You Love Me”.

    I loathe Slim Shady and Eminem. I admit, he was fresh at the time, but I just
    never got the appeal. He should never have been as big as he was.

    “What A Girl Wants” invokes the horrors of that year for me, as does “Oops. I Did It Again.” That song burned because I could never, ever, figure out Brittney’s appeal. At least Aguilera was a cheap trashy little thing that looked, well, “Dirty” as her later song proclaimed. Spears? Her jailbait act was insanely irritating to me, mainly becase I didn’t find her attractive and couldn’t stand her catterwalling.

    Macy Gray’s “I Try”. Oh god. I can see the apartment. I can smell the bars. I can taste the failure. 2000 was split in two halves for me-one the bitter end of a bad relationship, the other, well, flailing around after that and getting no where. This must explain the following paragraph:
    Confession: I liked Kryptonite at the time. Other embarrassments: Story of a Girl. My car only had a tape deck and only sometimes had a working CD player, and I am a stone cold sucker for bad pop. Somehow I identified an ex that you once described as looking like a drowned rat with it.

    • theelderj says:

      Professor, how could I ever really talk about all that was wrong and right with 2000? The Coldplay incident was seminal, but less involved with my musical memory. I did eventually develop a liking followed by a loathing of Coldplay, but it took another few years.

      We all like some bad stuff. Kryptonite just made me angry. And, I must say, liking “story of a girl” isn’t that bad– it is a catchy song. Liking wet rats? That’s still mysterious to me…

      • professormortis says:

        Honestly, it’s beyond me. My initial impression was not positive, but I was won over.

  3. […] don’t talk about rap/hip-hop nearly enough in this blog and it is a new year resolution of the collective Brothers J to change this. We both like rap and I […]

  4. […] that any of this was going on because I (1) had turned off the radio and (2) wouldn’t listen to hip-hop seriously for another half-dozen years. When I finally came to love this album nearly a decade after it was released, what made me […]

  5. […] ever Weird Al and TMBG recordings for me, my college roommate who introduced me to Guster and, the Historian who made me re-think hip-hop, and, even my wife, who has forced me to admit a grudging respect for […]

  6. […] the dishroom at college. The only two CDs my wife brought to college when I first met her were by Bon Jovi and the Notorious B.I.G. This is a great song by a hip-hop iconoclast. My brother has even argued […]

  7. […] “Gin and Juice,” Snoop Dog […]

  8. […] in 1999 when this song came out and after when I learned to love hip-hop, I remember having several conversations where we tried to figure out exactly what it was that […]

  9. […] Shaggy, oh it was you. You created a new defense for cheaters in 2000. […]

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