There is no hope for America’s youth.
What could I mean by that? The trivial to the abomination that’s being pounded into the skulls of America’s children, literally pummeling them into retardation.? The impending doom of a worldwide recession? No end in sight for the turmoil in the Middle East? These issues, while quite vital to the future of our youth, are absolutely
More addicting than crack and ecstasy combined, Disney’s High School Musical franchise has made it’s way through the hoods and suburbs of America giving misguided preteens a glimpse into what their high school years might look like if Bill Borden produced them. The soundtrack of our children’s lives could very well be the acetate platter of doom that is nothing more than a prearranged compilation of soul raping, mind slaughtering tunes set out to simulate the course of a high school year with heavily rehearsed song and dance routines. Our children will unfortunately herald this entertainment monolith as the very cornerstone in their lives that deterred them from being a Chemical Engineer that would find the cure for Cancer,and Larry The Cable Guy. Instead this musical jezebel will send them on the course of becoming a singing, dancing teenager until the age of thirty-five when their dreams go from downright creepy, to pretty damn illegal.
There may be no hope for America’s youth, but it’s not to late to show them the way! We can show them there’s more to life than internet harlot Vanessa Hudgens and walking tumbleweed Corbin Blue. Let’s take them back to a time when our file sharing was done via Cassette Tape, ourMusic Store was known as “The Mall” and our was a trusty that would play in reverse so we could get our Satanic subtext on. Yes my pretties, I’m going to take you back through my very own “High School Musical”.
High School Musical: Paranoid Rude Boys Make Graves
The Summer of 1997 upgraded my social status from lowly middle school dwelling scrub to highly esteemed High School…scrub. Gone are the nights staying at home playing board games with the family. It’s time for me to beat my chest, drink Starbucks and show off my L337ness with my LAN parties. Okay, so nothing really changed for me as I entered High School, but I felt like I was entering a whole new world where oral sex in the bathrooms was okay and smoking weed out of a Shasta can was the practice of royalty! I walked into John W. North High with a pair of suspenders on my shoulders, a “Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down” era Toasters shirt and a pair of Vans that made a fool out of me a few times when I’d trip over them during PE. I remember diving head first into punk and ska when I was in middle school. I just moved into the area and I observed that everyone had a DK on their backpack, so I fell in line like a good little droid. Everyone had checkers on their backpack, so I had to explain why I wasted a bottle of White Out checkering mine. I was the Rude Boy you loved to hate.
Dave Sakover, a traditional non-racist Skinhead can be attributed to my vast knowledge of Skinhead favorites like Hepcat, Prince Buster, The Skatelites, and many other traditional Ska bands. Despite my traditional leanings, I had my moments on the punkier side as well. I obsessed over Asian Man Records for quite a few years. The Chinkees, The‘s Goddammit, old classics, , they were all there. I wasn’t embarrassed to say I loved the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and moshed to Reel Big Fish on two separate occasions. I listened to a lot of heavier punk as well morphing my teenage angst into a politically charged ball of three chord rage. Descendents, , , , Total Chaos, , all invaded by consciousness. I obsessed over punk in the 80s and I could school anyone on anything related to punk. I even wrote my first piece in the school newspaper about traditional Punk and Ska, up the punx indeed!
The local and national zines like Skratch, Maximum Rock and Roll and Punk Planet were huge before the Internet really boomed. I learned about different movements going on in the country when many punks locally just cared about who was playing at The Barn. I can still remember the feeling I had when I first saw the “And I Will Be With You” video on M2. I was pumping my fist to the animated goodness of the Mr. T Experience and I really wouldn’t be the same after that. I attempted to horde everything from Lookout’s roster (because we bought by the label, not the song back in the day) I could get my hands on.‘s 39 Smooth, ‘s Love Is Dead and The Queers, good lord the Queers! Gave me my first bit of real world education, for which I’m eternally grateful for.
My Uncle Alonzo was one of my biggest influences on my love for music. He turned me on to the Smiths and The soulful stoner rock band absolutely ruled Southern long before Rated R came out and blew our minds.when I was ten, what kind of childhood did I have?! He introduced me to favorites I still hold dear and I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done. Our modern rock affliction known as KROQ back in Southern actually was a good station at times. The mind blowing introduction of ‘s Ok Computer, ‘s Homogenic, ‘s The Lonesome Crowded West, ‘ Around The Fur and ‘s Whatever and Ever, Amen laid the foundation for what has to be the most confusing taste in rock music you could ever gather. Jed The Fish’ “Catch of the Day” segment introduced me to many bands who were up and coming. One of my favorite discoveries had to be the opening chords to The Queens of the Stone Age’s “If Only”.
My freshman year also ushered in a slew of Big Beat ambassadors to American music. House music found it’s way to American shores in a big way. Hits like The Chemical Brothers’ “” and The Prodigy’s “ ” drew me into the frenzied world of dance music. ‘s “Sick To Death” stayed on repeat in my walkman as I walked home from school. I was caught off guard with great albums from Daft Punk ( Homework) and Basement Jaxx (Remedy) that made it okay to play with synthesizers instead of guitars from time to time. But it was a wrap when I heard the introduction to DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing . The shut down, without a doubt greatest DJ record to ever make its way into my CD player was bestowed onto me from my Uncle. DJ Shadow’s addictive use of stuttering drums and soul twisting samples just floored me. This was my gateway drug to Drum and Bass classics from Goldie ( Saturnz Returns) and Roni Size (Reprazent).
If you wanted to crown a champion genre from my youth, you have to give hip hop the throne. 1997/98 was HUGE for East Coast/West Coast hip hop. Biggie’s Life After Death was a great sendoff to one of the best wordsmiths in the game. “Hypnotize”?! “Mo Money, Mo Problems”? “B-I-G P-O-P-P-A/ NO INFO FOR THA D-E-A”. Killing the game. On top of that, you had Busta’s “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See”, Missy Elliot when she was “Misdermeanor”, Rakim’s 18th Letter, JAY-Z IN MY LIFETIME VOLUME 1?! Hip Hop was crazy back then. None of this ringtone rap like you have now. Wu-Tang Forever stayed in my cd player for months. Word. It was crazy. That video for “Triumph” was legendary. Capone and Noriega’s War Report, Master P’s Ghetto D (thank him southern rap fans!) and Company Flow’s Funcrusher Plus were ON POINT.
But nothing had as big of an effect on me as the next two albums. The first, Portishead’s self titled record. It was the perfect balance between my love of horns, love of Hip Hop and sultry singing all in one package. I remember my uncle listening to Dummy but I never really paid any attention to it. But the first few seconds to Cowboys sends shivers up my spine like no other. In fact, it was this album coupled with it’s live performance PNYC that made me visit the famed Roseland Ballroom just to be where Portishead was. The vocal on “Only You” is absolutely chilling and is completely timeless.
The second comes from a man known as Keigo Oyamada released a record through Matador entitled Fantasma. When I would spend my lunch period readingin the library, I read a review of Fantasma and I knew I had to hear this record. I was in on the whole Columbia House scam and Fantasma ended up being one of the 12 cds I scored for a penny. The song that hit me with the most immediate impact had to be “New Music Machine”. The crashing guitars from the intro were addictive and repetitive only to transition to a calming couple of verses in his mother tongue. “Star Fruits Surf Rider” was beyond comprehension for me because it melted so many genres at once that it blindsided me. It’s lead into “Chapter 8 – Seashore and Horizon” was great, as “Seashore” was a very cheery, folky song beautifully sang in English with a strong Beatles/Paul Simon influence apparent throughout the song. The album’s eclectic nature made it one of my all time favorite records that I will never forget.
I may have ended the year with average grades but my musical tastes at the time were absolutely stellar. As I transitioned into my Sophomore year, a girl handed me a mixtape she made from the radio. The opening chords were sharp and almost out of tune, the singing was sharp and…emotional? That mixtape changed my outlook on music and opened me up to many more genres of music. But, that’s for another day.
The important thing is for the youth of today to realize that High School Musical is the aural-herpes simplex of their generation. It’s up to them to dig and discover new and exciting genres of music instead of what corporate suits think is “what’s really hood”. Keep in mind that only YOU can control what the soundtrack to your sexual encounter after the prom is. Make the right choices and I guarantee you will reminisce of your teenage years fondly instead of with deep regret.
There is hope for the Youth of Today. They just have to find it beyond their internet connection.
I’m Justin Good, and this is the soundtrack of our lives.
1. Cornelius – New Music Machine
2. Beck – Deadweight
3. Notorious BIG – Mo Money, Mo Problems
4. DJ Shadow – The Number Song
5. Dead Kennedys – Kill The Poor
6.– All Is Full Of Love
7. Daft Punk – Around The World
8.– Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See
9. Hepcat –
11. Capone n’ Noriega – Halfway Thugs
13. Missy Elliot – The Rain
14.– The Guns Of Navarone