The Golden era
Do you remember your after school routine back in the 5th grade? Yikes. I’m sure that one might take some time to remember.
Besides, this isn’t about you. This is about me.
*Queue the Dr. Evil laugh…
Just kidding. This really isn’t about me — it’s about us.
Well, let me explain.
Back in the fifth grade, music had begun to turn the corner as one of, if not the most, integral part of my childhood. I lived, breathed and consumed music on a daily basis, and it was my oxygen that I needed to survive.
So, as you can most likely assume, this topic sits pretty close to my heart. Growing up in the 1990s, music was still consumed visually on the television screen; it was a glorious time, indeed.
During this time period, two of these television shows stood out among the pack.
Two shows that changed my life forever: BET’S Rap City: The Basement and MTV’s Total Request Live, better known as TRL.
Looking back, my daily routine was built upon their specific starting times; one (Rap City) at 4:00 pm and the other (TRL) at 4:30 pm EST.
While our parents grew up in the age of American Bandstand and Soul Train, I grew up in the age of Rap City: The Basement and TRL. Those were the cards I had been dealt, and I couldn’t have been more appreciative of them.
The two vastly contrasting hosts: Big Tigger…
and Carson Daly…
were two American heroes of mine growing up.
Those two dudes were Gods, man.
When I was younger, I felt I would become the next Big Tigger and/or Carson Daly. I also knew that my interests in Rap, R&B, Hip-Hop, Pop, and Rock music was pretty rare. Maybe it wasn’t as rare as I’d like to think, but to this day, I can’t remember alienating more friends, peers, parents and teachers alike with my wide open view of the musical world. However, from my first listen, rap music resonated on levels that I’ll never quite be able to explain.
From the sounds of Coolio and Nelly to my later days of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, Rap has been there from day one.
Pop music was the same way. I grew up loving Michael Jackson from my dad’s tapes and then it just worked its way down the line up into the new school.
Backstreet Boys? Check. ‘N Sync? Check. Christina Aguilera? Check.
It seems weird looking back on it but their music was everywhere and I was hooked.
How about Marcy’s Playground? Check. Well, actually, just that one song because it said sex:
Hearing the word sex on the radio at age 11 was just something else, man.
So, where does that leave us? Ah, yes.
Wow. Queue the nostalgia…
Classes at Ayer Elementary began at 9:15 am. From the 1st to 6th grade, I slept like a King every night, until middle school hit, and bus routes began before 6:45 am. No thanks. However, the late morning start was not all that it cracked up to be back in the elementary school days.
Start late, end late.
And, so that’s the way it went. School ended just before 4:00 pm, which is pretty crazy — but, that’s just the way it was back in ol’ Anderson Township.
Aside from creeping into the evening hours every weeknight, a 3:45 pm dismissal presented one more major problem.
Rap City started at 4:00 pm.
I repeat, Rap City started at 4:00 pm.
Had I been able to walk or ride my bike home, this would have been one of the most exciting challenges of my day. I can picture myself racing home on my speedster to catch the legendary opening credits just in time to grab a snack and plop on the couch for an hour. How much fun would that have been?
However, I had to settle for that massive yellow school bus, and often, that did not get the job done.
Missing the first few minutes of my favorite show was not an option. Often, I would ask my mom to pick me up, just so that I could guarantee that 4:00 pm was in my future that day. However, can you imagine how many damn kids had their parents pick them up as well? A shit ton of ’em, that’s how many.
Striking eerie similarities to a popular New York City nightclub, lines were a part of the experience back in elementary school. Let me paint a little picture for you…
3:45 pm — I race outside to check my mom’s spot in line for “Parent Pick-Up” (pure nostalgia right here— the days before cell phones and text messages).
3:47 pm — I’m the first kid out there. Everyone out of my way!
3:49 pm — I don’t see my mom. The apocalypse is near. No, for real, where the hell is she?
3:51 pm — I spot her in line. The line curved around the entire parking lot so you could always see just how close, or how far, your ride was from the pick-up location.
3:53 pm — Her minivan approaches. We are cutting this one way too close.
3:54 pm — Mom asks me about my day and a little conversation ensues. I feel really bad that kids never answer this question fully — maybe it’s time parents ask it in a different way? Or, ask some different questions? Am I ranting?
4:01 pm — Arrive home. A minute late. Could be worse.
4:02 pm — Sprint inside and downstairs to turn on Rap City: The Basementand TRL at 4:30. Life is too good.
This was a daily occurrence from 4th-6th grade, I believe. It’s all a bit fuzzy now but I can’t remember a day I didn’t sit in that basement before going outside to play with my friends and tuning into the music world.
From freestyles to interviews, and music videos to daily countdowns, Rap City and TRL completely changed the game for me. Even at such a young age, I was always so impressed by how much each show knew their audience. They had a specific formula, kept it consistent, and learned how to adapt and grow along the way.
From the best segment on Rap City…
To the live performances on TRL...
It was a great time to be a music fan, as these two shows single-handedly transformed me from music enthusiast, to music aficionado. There was no turning back and now here I sit today — writing to an audience on Medium about my love for the musical world. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.
Maybe it’s time I start my own music show…