In 1994, I painstakingly crafted the greatest hip-hop mixtape cassette I would ever make, comprised solely of songs on the radio at the time. I was 9.
While Bill Gates was becoming a one-man megapower, Steve Jobs was getting lost in a sea of ego and suck, and Nelson Mandela was inspiring people across the globe, I was sitting by my cheap RCA CD/Tape boombox trying to get the hang of long division.
Most my school nights in the fourth grade were spent doing homework by my boombox listening to San Francisco hip-hop radio station KMEL when it was still great. Bay Area hip hop, top 40 hip hop, classic joints, R&B, whatever—they played good music back then. And I recorded it.
Like I mentioned in the tribute to boomboxes, it was all about timing when you made a real mixtape; tape had to be queued to the right place, you had to know just when to hit play (before the lyrics started, after the DJ stopped talking), and you had to pay attention so you could stop recording right as it ended.
My tapes of choice were the Memorex joints with the bright colors and geometric shapes. Classics. What I chose to put on those tapes wasn't always as classic, but the fact that I pulled it together to craft this one mix makes me proud of my younger self.
The best part was when we got to go on school field trips, because I not only got to pop my tape in my walkman to keep me entertained, but my friends had mixes and walkmans of their own. So we'd swap and share during the bus rides to wherever. Those were better days.
Back to my main point— the mix is filled with West Coast hip-hop from the era, but imbued with a splash of east coast and a touch of R&B. This is my handcrafted, childhood masterpiece. I'm sure, due to the faults of time, a couple songs are missing or mentally amalgamated in from other tapes. But the essence is more or less the same. Enjoy. (Photo courtesy of TapeDeck.org)
Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dog - "Ain't Nuthin But a G-Thang":
The "1, 2, 3 and to tha 4" still gets me happy to this day.
Domino - "Ghetto Jam":
I had completely forgotten about this song until I started thinking about the mixtape again. When that happens, you realized it's a song that only could have come out of a given era.
Tevin Campbell - "Can We Talk":
Ok, maybe not as imposing as some other selections on this mix, BUT I WAS 9! And it's still a good song.
Snoop Doggy Dog - "Gin and Juice":
I have memories of sitting in my dad's car listening to this track: me rappin about endo, and gin, and money, my dad looking at me like I was a damn moron.
Dru Down - "Pimp of the Year":
A wise friend once said, "Dru Down sellin' bitches quick dreams here mane!" I concur.
E-40 featuring The Click, D-Shot, B-Legit and Suga T - "Captain Save A Hoe":
Worth it just for the line "Look up in the sky, it's a bird! It's a plane! What's dat fool name? CAPTAIN SAVE A HOE MAAAANE!"
Masta Ace - "Born To Roll":
I still don't know how Masta Ace was pulling west coast airplay back then, but I'm happy he was. I still find my self singing the chorus without even knowing it's from this song.
Aaliyah - "Back and Forth":
This song really deserved a spot on any 94-era mixtape.
Warren G and Nate Dogg - "Regulate":
Don't care what anyone says. This was THE song of 1994.
Rappin 4 Tay - "Players Club":
A mid-90s Bay Area gem.
Soul 4 Real - "Candy Rain":
This was the last track I added to that tape before it was time to move on. Not sure how I remember this being the very last, but I would like to know where I stashed that tape.