Blu Cantrell – “Hit ‘Em Up Style”

When: 1 September 2001
Where: Wilson Middle School
Who: My mother
Weather: Hot, dry

At a certain point developing this playlist, I realized a problem: I only had songs that I liked, or at least tolerated. The whole point of this project was to evoke an emotional connection to days past, to relive, almost like an index in the back of a book. And I realized I couldn’t do that if I didn’t include clear memories of songs I completely and absolutely hated. Not just the sound of her voice, but the mean-spiritedness of the lyrics. So I added it. And it made the playlist better.

At the time I tolerated “Hit ‘Em Up Style,” but it wore on me after hearing it for the first time. The second time we were here, pulling up to my fancy new middle school, a baccalaureate program! School didn’t start for nine more days; we were here to get my textbooks. It was hot in there, schools in Pasadena didn’t have air conditioning. We got in and got out, and it was only a matter of time before we had to hear Blu again.

Next: A day in the life, our sense of purpose, and the solemn descent into the darkness of the 2000s.