Illustration: Catherine Cha

A love letter to old school R&B

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By Lidia Abraha

This is for all of the block parties, cookouts and playground thotties we can never forget. These are the tunes that always make me reminisce being an awkward, fun-loving tween. Looking back, a lot of these songs have unsavoury messages that, had they come out today, as a black feminist, I couldn’t imagine celebrating. But these songs are from a time when we were sheltered from worldly controversies. And I’m extremely nostalgic of those times.

Here’s a review of some classic jams that will never go out of style, and most certainly will never be forgotten.

“What’s Luv”– Fat Joe (feat. Ja-Rule & Ashanti)

A classic radio hit with all the stars of the early 2000s R&B era. It’s great when you were too young to know this is the original f*ckboy anthem. Fat Joe is actually a genius for that, because he drowns out objectifying lyrics like “Ass is fat, frame is little” and “I wanna chick with thick hips and licks her lips,” with a BOPPING tune that you have to bounce to. Despite the misogyny, this is a tune that come with fond memories of playground thotties and middle school dances.

“Are you that somebody” – Aaliyah

The classic, long lost angel and a pillar of today’s music. It’s unfortunate we never got to address her odd relationship with her mentor R. Kelly. But hey, it’s not the first, nor the only time he got away with having controversial relationships with young girls. And that could never take away from the greatness that is Aaliyah Dana Haughton. This song brings me back to times I sang to myself in the mirror.  

“Just a Friend” – Mario

I’m nostalgic of a time when Mario was still relevant and he was coming out with soulful bangers, one after another. I really used to appreciate this song before I grew up to realize it’s just another sad “friend zone” song. Whatever, it’s still a banger in my books.

“Cry Me a River” – Justin Timberlake

When Justin left NSYNC it broke our hearts, but this single glued them back together. I don’t even know if this song makes me nostalgic because I still play it every other week. You know when that killer Timbaland beat drops it’s time to karaoke–cue the rain drops.

“Dilemma” – Nelly (feat. Kelly Rowland)

The music video is a perfect snapshot of early 2000s relationships. Guys dressed in oversized jerseys, sitting on the front porch and hollering at girls moving in across the street … It shows you that times haven’t really changed. Nonetheless, this song makes me reminisce over a simpler time with limited technology. Kelly was texting her boyfriend through Microsoft Excel on a flip phone in this video. This scene resurfaced on the internet as a meme, to which Kelly responded to on Bustle with “No one was thinking in 2018, ‘17, ‘16, that someone was going to bring that up.” The director of this video underestimated millennials superior technological strength. Sadly, Kelly had to suffer the consequences.

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