My girl ASmith sent a chilling tweet the other day. She tweeted that someone considered Eminem to be "old school." What the devil? Well, let's take a look: technically, old school is anything that is from an earlier era and looked upon with high regard or respect, including music, clothing and language. –From Wikipedia. But in reality, old school should be at least generational. A generation is usually from parent to child and considered an average of 20 years. Eminem's first album came out in 1998… not so old school.
An old school joint is one that you can play in front of your mother, grandmother, cousin Ray-Ray with his bad-ass kids and everybody sings along, hops up to cut a rug or nods and says, "That's a classic right there." So when I say old school, I'm talking about a classic that has (and will continue) to stand the test of time. My old school cuts came out over 20 years ago and I ain't shamed to play them in mixed race/sex/generational company. Here are a few favorites (and yes, I had to cut this off):
- The Entire Motown Songbook. I can't pick one but I will give special mention to Marvin Gaye's What's Going on and his duet with Tammi Terrell You're All I Need to Get By. Just let me mention Stevie with his prolific brilliance. He kicked out about six brilliant albums with multiple amazing singles in a row. I'll just mention As for one and Hotter than July as one that still makes the summer picnic. And the Jackson 5's I Want You Back, Smokey Robinson's Tears of a Clown is immortal, The Commodores – I have a personal weakness for Zoom. And the Tempts! My Girl! Alright, I REALLY did mean the entire songbook, too many to name.
- All of Anita Baker's stuff. Hurts me a little to think that Giving You the Best That I Got came out in 1988.
- Everybody gets up the minute Flashlight and Atomic Dog come on. You cannot get mad at George Clinton, Parliament, Funkadelic, Bootsy and the gang. Ooh, speaking of gangs - Kool and the Gang - Ladies Night.
- Speaking of funky: all of Earth Wind and Fire's singles. Would You Mind is an all time slow jam.
- Since MJ is gone (RIP King of Pop!) we'll just put all his stuff into the classic old school bucket. I can't pick a favorite but Man in the Mirror is genius. How many times has Human Nature been sampled now?
- Prince's narrow little behind has way too much good music out there so I'll cut off his "old school classics" with Purple Rain. Okay, I would not play Darling Nikki in front of BougieMom but Let's go Crazy gets everybody moving.
- Reppin' for "Adult Contemporary Rock" I'll go with: The Eagles- Take It to The Limit, Journey – Lights, The Police – Wrapped Around your Finger, Hall & Oates – Sara Smile
- Back, back, back in the day classics. BougieDad taught me about these: Duke Ellington – Sophisticated Lady, Nat King Cole – Mood Indigo, Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna come, Dean Martin – Kick in the Head, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong– Let's Call the Whole Thing Off.
- Precursors to the Hip-Hop Revolution: Whodini – Freaks Come out at Night, Cameo – Candy, Guy – I Like, Grandmaster Flash - The Message
- Boy Bands (before Boy Bands went crazy): early Boyz II Men - MotownPhilly, New Edition – If it isn't Love, After 7 – Ready or Not.
- R&B classics: All them early LaFace Groups, h/t to Babyface – Whip Appeal. All them early Terry Lewis/Jimmy Jam tunes – Karyn White, where ya at? Minnie Ripperton – Memory Lane, Aretha Franklin – EVERYTHING but special shout out for Natural Woman, Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack – Where is the Love?
- Early Rap Classics: Craig Mack – Flava in Yo Ear, LL Cool J – Can't live without my Radio, Run DMX – It's Tricky
Okay, I stopped before I listed an entire catalog's worth of music. What songs/group do you consider to be "old school classics"? Be forewarned, if you respond with some nonsense like 98 degrees, prepared to be ridiculed. Comment at your own risk (ha!).