After years of watching the musical Grease on VHS, spending countless evenings reading Sweet Valley High novels, and constantly daydreaming of strolling the halls with a buff jock, my opportunity to go to high school had finally arrived.
I could not sleep the night before. My hair was pressed like MC Lyte's. I had rid myself of the wave nouveau. For those of you who don't know black girl hair trends, the wave nouveau was like Jheri Curl's love child. The wave wasn't as wet or spirally as the curl. It was basically finger waves, but light and swingable. I don't remember what I wore, but I'm sure it was something from the Gap. I do remember the upperclassmen donned crisp, button down shirts and ties. They looked all studious with their stiff collars and high top fades. It was Afro-Prep season at Heights High School and I loved it!
That very first day was probably the only time I spent a whole day at school. It was an awkward first year for me. I was boy crazy, but the boys on campus did not reciprocate my adoration. The fellas at our rival school did. To the Shaker Boys, I was like forbidden fruit, a girl who had crossed the tracks just to hang out with them. Dangerous!
I was cool with this. The Shaker kids knew how to throw a good house party. Instead of doing homework, I did the dances. All of them. It was in a Shaker basement in 1988 that I remember hearing a certain record spin. There are songs you hear and love the first moment that first note hits your ear. This time it wasn't about enjoying an instant groove, I was witnessing a shift in the hip hop atmosphere. The best way to describe it, some of you will consider this blasphemy, but it was like when the The Beatles washed up onto American shores in late 1963. Betty Lee Teenager heard these Brits and was changed forever. I had just heard some Niggaz Wit Attitudes and was altered.
What is this? Who is this? Where on God's green earth is Compton? Mr. DJ please fill us in. He had just finished playing Ice Cube's I Ain't tha 1 and I, for one, was not the same. NWA's Straight Outta Compton album was unlike any other. Raw, honest, rebellious, funny, anti-skank. OK, we've learned since 1988 that skanks need love too. This music was the real deal. Someone had aired our dirty street laundry and we could finally take in some fresh air. Ice Cube, Eazy E, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, MC Ren formed NWA . The Arabian Prince had left the group shortly after photographing the album cover - oops! NWA rapped about crackheads, drug dealers, police brutality, and money hungry hoes. For the record, I believe hoes should be money hungry - pay what you owe.
Filmmaker John Singleton, also a fan of Ice Cube, stalked him until he accepted a role in Boyz n the Hood. This film earned Singleton two Academy Award nominations and launched Ice Cube's career as a rapper turned actor.
Over twenty years have passed and Cube is onto film #28. He's starring alongside Kevin Hart in a brand new comedy. When I saw the trailer, I couldn't stop laughing. Ride Along opens today in theaters nationwide. I seriously doubt it will have the same effect on me as hearing a young woman ask over a rap beat, "Ice Cube, do you think you can get me some money to get my hair done?" But I'm grabbing a girlfriend anyway and riding along for a few good laughs.
See you at the movies!