In 1997, I remember my sister — she's 13 years older than I — listening to Baduizm a lot. 1997 was a big year for me, musically, because that was the year I started listening to new music seriously, and personally. Up until '95, I was pretty much subject to whatever my dad played at home (good music, of course: The Impressions, Minnie Riperton, The Dramatics, Roberta Flack, The Last Poets, Peter Tosh, The Skatalites, random ragga, soca, etc, but not my choice), and whatever my sister played in the car. (My sister is/was kind of a rebel, and I was/am a goodie-two-shoes, so I generally disliked most things she liked, just on principle.) In 1996, I started listening to the oldies station on the radio. Probably for a full year, all I listened to were oldies. The Beatles, the Shirelles, lots of one-hit wonders. To this day, I promise you, if you play some random golden oldie that I haven't heard in ten years, I know all the words, and will sing along. But in '97 – which, now that I think about it, was my first year of true self-awareness – I was facing sort of an identity crisis. Southern California, the 'Inland Empire,' wasn't a bastion of blackness. I wanted to identify with my classmates, and the cool (white) kids were 'skaters,' although, most of them didn't own a skateboard. It was a way of life. So, I hopped on the alternative bandwagon, which wasn't so much alt, as it was the mainstream. I turned the dial from the oldies station to the "X," a station that played songs I thought spoke to me... "#1 Crush" by Garbage, "Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger, "Don't Speak" by No Doubt, "Fly" by Sugar Ray, "Super Rad" by the Aquabats, "Roll To Me" by Del Amitri, and so on. But one day, I was at home, with my sister — I think she was living in L.A. at the time, but she came to Rancho on the weekends — and she put in a CD, and I heard those first bass notes of "Rimshot." I came to hear the band today I ain't thinkin' bout ya I came to hear my drummer play Boom clack, boom clack I'm in love with you 'Cuz of the things you do Do to me when you Boom clack, boom clack I didn't even know what she was talking about half the time, but I loved it. "Apple Tree" was my favorite song. (Years later, in college, I rediscovered "On & On" and it kept me going through some difficult times. And when I was sick the other day, dizzy and weak and coughing, I put on Mama's Gun and let it wash over me. I felt better immediately.) It's like a twist on that line from Brown Sugar: "I felt Erykah, and Erykah felt me." Although I continued to listen to the alt-rock of the day — some of which I still like, incl. No Doubt and Sublime, though they had ska and reggae influences, respectively — I delved a little deeper into music that really spoke to me (Wyclef's The Carnival was another favorite of '97). When I got a copy of New Amerykah, I knew it would be special. Or maybe, special. I dunno, sometimes I wonder if she's permanently high, and sometimes I wonder how she manages to tell my entire life in just a phrase or two ("two fish, one swimming upstream / one swimming down, living in a dream / but when she loves she tends to cling"). First listen, I was kind of "hmm." Second listen, I started to get the rhythm. Third listen, I fell in love.