While getting some coffee the other day, I overheard a varied group of teens talking about “old school music”. Music from the 90s that is.

I chuckled inwardly.

One of them was playing Nas and Lauryn Hill’s “If I Ruled the World”. At least he had good taste in music, I thought.

“You like old school Nas or new Nas?” I asked him.

“Old school,” he replied confidently.

“Mid 90s Nas?” I challenged.

“Yeah. Like this one,” he proudly replied and seemed to visually high five his friend.

“Ah,” I said, and went about my business.

I chuckled to myself again. Probably too nuanced a question for a high school student. Nas released his debut album, Illmatic, in ’94. “If I Ruled the World” was on his second album, It Was Written. Album two came out in ’96.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him old school Nas and new Nas were the same.

Discovering music is a journey meant to be enjoyed free from judgement or expectations. It is personal and not to be interrupted.

Ask me if I’m tryna kick knowledge

Nah. I’m tryna kick the shit you need to learn though

That ether. That shit that make your soul burn slow

(Nas, Ether 2001)

2 Replies to “Liner Notes”

  1. OMG! My boys have similar conversations about music. I feel young, but they speak about 90s music like it’s ancient. Then I question am I an old lady now? NAS is surely one of the GOAT. I admire anyone who can organize words in a way that speaks to the soul. Music speaks to us and we receive a different message every time…that is if the lyrics are well written. Example: The Pointer Sisters, those are some freaky ladies. As a kid I enjoyed the beat of their music and the few words I could understand as a new ESOL student. My boyfriend and I have this corny pass time. We listen to songs from the 70s & 80s and compare the message we receive now as adults vs when we were kids. So the last lyrical game we played using ALEXA was the Pointer Sisters. All I could say was, “Oh my gosh I didn’t know I was saying those type of things as a child…ooh the are nasty.” Jump for my love is not about an Olympian jumping hurdles. Who would have thought? Not the 10 year old me singing that song in my broken English.

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