Some experienced love and heartbreak tied to rap classics.
"I've always been a huge Isley Brothers fan, and I remember hearing 'It Was a Good Day' by Ice Cube when I was roller-skating with the boy who was the love of my life. That was more than 25 years ago in Chicago in 1992. Hearing that sample and Ice Cube's lyrics made a rap fan out of me."
"I got dumped by the girl I thought I was going to marry in '99 out of nowhere, or at least that was how it felt. I must have played The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 2,000 times. I still can't listen to 'Ex-Factor' without thinking about her. Ha!"
"To this day, my husband will tell anyone who asks that the moment he fell in love with me was the first time he saw me karaoke 'Baby Got Back.' I don't just rap — I perform that mamma jamma. It's his top request anytime we're out and see a mic."
Some got up close and personal with hip-hop legends.
"I was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs up until middle school. In the summer before starting eighth grade, my mother moved my sister and me to the Bronx. Needless to say, this was quite a transition. The very first night we arrived, we were visiting my aunt on 220th and White Plains Road. We asked my high school cousin where would be a nice place to go out for the evening, and he sent us to the notorious club called T-Connection. When we arrived at the club, we entered and found a table. As it turned out, it was Grandmaster Flash’s birthday. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were performing 'Flash 2 the Beat.' This is the moment I fell in love with hip-hop. The scratching, the beats, the way he kept one beat going, and the way they performed song after song and routine after routine..."
Some were taken back to their school days.
"I went to a middle school that split up into two local high schools. The night of graduation, we had a big sleepover as a last hurrah, and 'I'll Be Missing You' by Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, and 112 was played on repeat and sort of became our unofficial middle school swan song. Of course, if you listen to the lyrics, this makes absolutely no sense because this song was written about Biggie's untimely passing, but every time I hear that song I still think about those girls and that innocent night where we felt like our world was ending."
"When I ran for class president in high school, people changed the words of 'Notorious' to 'Victorious,' and they’d chant, 'Vic, Vic, Vic, Victorious.' It always made me smile, and, heck, it got me some extra votes too. I won!"
"I'm from Houston, but I was dead set on leaving to go to college in LA. I devised a whole plan, applied for scholarships, and even asked an uncle I had out there if I could live with him if dorms were too expensive. My mom was not having it. She wanted me to stay in Texas because she couldn't afford to send me to California. I played 'California Love' on repeat in my room for days when she gave me that official 'hell no.' I didn't end up getting to go to LA for school like I wanted, but I live there now. I play Tupac in my car and laugh about how dramatic I was back then."
And some got straight-up sentimental.
"One of my fondest memories of hip-hop actually involves the death of my matriarchal grandfather. After his funeral, all of my family — about 10 cousins or so — went back to the house. We were all just sitting back reflecting on the long day and had music playing in the background. All of a sudden, the song 'They Want EFX' by Das EFX started playing. One by one, I saw everyone singing to the song, and before long, everyone was standing up, rapping along to the song word for word without missing a beat! That memory stays with me because it turned a sad day into a happy celebration of life."
"My nephew was born prematurely the week Illmatic came out. I was 13 at the time and didn't really know what was going on, but my mother and sister were crying a lot, and I think I just wanted to shut out the whole experience. My parents and sister spent all day at the hospital, and I begged to stay home. We didn't have cable, so all I could do was listen to music, and I played Illmatic over and over again. My nephew ended up being just fine, and I became a huge Nas fan after that."
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