Song of the Year: “Ima Thug” -Trick Daddy
Runners Up: “Ms. Jackson” -Outkast, “Last Nite” The Strokes, “Chop Suey!” System of a Down
Best Dance Video ever: “Weapon of Choice” -Fatboy Slim
2001 was a crazy year. My brother wrote about it in pretty heavy fashion a few weeks ago and, besides the fact that I have not written a “songs of the year” post in some time, I felt I could add some things since I experienced the year much differently as a sophomore in high school. I distinctly remember hearing about the plane hitting the first building and thinking that I hoped my brother was ok. I knew from my frequent trips to the city that his NYU offices were not in close proximity to the towers, but who knows?
I was in Honors Algebra 2 listening to my teacher drone on about polynomials when someone with a laptop got the first headlines. I called my mom who tried calling my brother and she eventually got the message that he was alive/well and actually saw the second plane hit the other tower. That is extremely heavy and I commend him for writing about the experience. This was a dark period in the history of our country and the shadow looms today and probably forever after.
One thing I read about recently that linked to this terrible event is something the Clear Channel chose to do in the aftermath of the attack. They banned certain songs that were deemed volatile in the context of the attacks which included “Imagine” by John Lennon, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by anyone and anything by Rage Against the Machine. This seems a little ridiculous to me but maybe the hypersensitivity was necessary. I know that we didn’t even get this channel out in the sticks so not only did I have no idea that this was occurring, I also wouldn’t have cared. I also would like to note that was the first year the iPod came out even though it took me more than a decade to get with the times.
Boy bands had already taken over the world and, like murky terrorist threats, it was hard to see how this story was ever going to end. Unlike global terrorism, boy bands did fizzle out for a while until the last few years and I view this as a positive. This year was also another nail in the coffin for the awful Limp Bizkit because a fan died in an accident at a show of theirs in Australia and not long after their lead guitarist Wes Borland left the band.
Another important incident was the outcome of the infamous shoot out in NYC that involved Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez in a high speed car escape and the demise of their relationship Puffy got exonerated, but Shyne, sort of his protege, did not fare so well and ended up doing several years in jail. If you don’t know Shyne, you should. He is an awesome rapper and underrated. I think he’s in Israel and is an Orthodox Jew now or something.
1. “Ima Thug” -Trick Daddy
This really was the year that I got into Hip Hop. I had mostly stayed away and secretly mocked it for years but this song by Trick Daddy for some reason sucked me right into a genre I’d always eschewed. This jam is straight glorification of a fictional gangster lifestyle that I would never know about and that if truly lived out, would clearly end up in death or incarceration for the protagonist. It really does sound cool though right? I love the production, it”s very groovy instrumentation that makes you want to drive real slow around parking lots and bump this tune whilst intimidating any adult in the vicinity.
I loved to rap along with this in college to see the reactions on my non-rap enjoying college friends when I yelled “Is it my baggy jeans or my gold teeth that make me different from y’all?” This is very reactionary and I am sure in some perversion of my brain, I thought my rural upbringing was somehow more bad ass than that of the upper middle class to outright wealthy of most of my college friends. It seems stupid now but I do still love this song and play it publically whenever I get to play DJ anywhere.
In fact, this song is still the number one played song on my iTunes and this is from playing it through the speakers in my apartment in college and through the PA in my band practice space now. Last I heard, Trick Daddy had lupus and an ankle bracelet due to his probation. I don’t think he’s doing a ton of music but I hope he comes out with another anthem soon. As a concluding note, I have often had baggy jeans but never a set of gold teeth. I’d almost certainly chip or somehow destroy them.
2. “Ms. Jackson” – Outkast
I was never a huge Outkast fan, which is weird because they have ill rhymes and are super funky; I guess the stars never aligned right. This song was inescapable that year, along with “It wasn’t me” by Shaggy, with which I often confused with “Ms. Jackson”. I distinctly remember us changing the lyrics of this song to mock our friend Sean’s mother. Sean had the fortune of having Stiffler has a surname so we all would sing “I’m sorry Ms. Stiffler, I am for realll”. Sean got mad for a while but we eventually all got a laugh out of it…..except for Ms. Stiffler.
As a last note, I recently saw half of a film called Four Brothers wherein Andre 3000 is one of the brothers and really displays that he should stick to hip hop and leave the acting to heavyweights like Marky Mark Wahlberg. Forever, for ever ever?
3. “Last Nite” The Strokes
I will forever associate this song with the springtime before 9/11 and listening to this album on a loop in my brother’s basement apartment in Astoria, Queens. Coming from the palatial home on a dirt road, going to the big city, (the “CITY” as it was referred to) was very cool. I remember taking the bus into Grand Central Station and just being so taken aback by how tall the buildings where. I craned my neck looking up and surely spurred many city folk to stare at me in rebuke.
My brother took me to a Mexican restaurant in his neighborhood that was run by a Chinese couple, something that still amazes me to this day. He and his grad school friends were very into the Strokes for about ten minutes that year with the rest of the album and really their career so far being what I would deem as lackluster. They have a specific sound and are not bad, nothing has really grabbed me since. Well, except for this song:
4. “Chop Suey!- System of a Down
I never understood why this song was called “Chop Suey!”. According to Wikipedia, this song is about how you are regarded when you die by the way you actually died. For example, if someone dies from drug overdose, one may say “oh well they deserved it because they are doing this dangerous drugs”. I don’t see what this has to do with chop suey at all. I actually really enjoy chop suey, it’s one of the few things my mother cooked as a child that I looked forward to having and to this day, it is the one dish she cannot screw up. She’s a great mother in many ways, but I was never one of those kids who said “Man, I can’t wait to get home and eat my mother’s cooking.”
This is an awesome song with incredibly cool sound dynamics, with the softer acoustic guitars switching to almost thrash metal and back again. Serj Tankian’s vocals are continually impressive, almost becoming operatic at times and really pushing their music along. They did a few Ozzfests but this band does not fit into any genre and still enjoys success today. This song will always be one that I turn up and sing along to in the car regardless of my passanger. Most people will join me…..except my 90 year old grandma who really frowns upon this.
Best Dance Video Ever: “Weapon of Choice” – Fatboy Slim
Who doesn’t like Christopher Walken? I mean seriously, I have never heard anyone utter the words “I don’t like Walken”. As of late, I have spent a lot of time in the car and with various friends honing my Walken impression and I think it’s finally starting to come around. One girl calls me and I never ever answer in my normal voice, it’s always Walken. Try it out sometime, it’s incredibly fun and everyone around you gets involved, even if just to tell you to cut the shit. On a more serious note, Walken really was a dancer before he was an actor, professionally trained in the dancing arts I believe. Most of this video is his, albeit with a little help from some high wires. I think he is going to be more popular than Betty White when he gets to that edge and I hope he is still dancing.