Music listeners are essentially dopamine addicts. The
chemicals are secreted every time we hear a song we love. We all remember
the CD that changed us from casual listeners into audio fiends. Maybe we
enjoyed the smooth grooves of a boyband or decided Sisqo had some street cred,
but there’s nothing quite like discovering that life-changing album. Even if it
was Creed’s greatest hits. Allow us to wax nostalgic for a second.
My introduction to music had an
uncertain beginning. As an eight year old, I went through the painful process
of being forced to return several albums by god-fearing parents. Targets
included: Coolio for explicit language/bad hair, The Bloodhound Gang for poo
jokes and boy band All-4-One, of “I Swear” fame, for sweetly harmonizing sex
Months after letting Bryan Adams
and a Christian rap tape gather dust, I sat watching Space Jam in a small theater.
During the scene when a young Michael Jordan dunks, my eyes watered as I
pictured myself also soaring through the air. I was blissfully unaware of a
future in which I would a) still be white and b) only grow to the height of Big
Sean. However, as soon as I could convince my family I wasn’t about to turn
into Satan, the Space Jam
soundtrack was in my uncoordinated little hands.
It was a crash course in rap and
R&B, featuring everyone from Jay-Z to D’Angelo, to disappearing acts like
Changing Faces and my former musical brethren All-4-One. Before his underage
rendezvous gained interest, R Kelly sung his anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,”
Coolio gave inspirational life advice which he clearly didn’t follow on “The
Winner,” and Biz Markie met the Spin Doctors on “That’s The Way I Like It.”
There was also a mysterious artist called “feat”or “ft,” who seemed incredibly
prolific and appeared on almost every song. I distinctly remember telling
people they were my favorite artist, until I discovered months later that “ft”
was actually short for featuring.
“Hit Em High” was the album’s
posse cut and undoubtedly my personal favorite. Somehow it managed to sound
hardcore despite featuring no swear words, a feat even that the mighty Lil
Romeo was unable to achieve. I listened to the soundtrack almost every day and
could rap the lyrics word for word. My perception of music was forever altered
and although my basketball career tanked, my obsession with everything audio
had begun. It wasn’t until years later that my musical taste regressed to Limp
Bizkit and Kid Rock. Oh the follies of youth.