There aren’t a lot of options for culture in Cowtown, circa 1990s. The Internet was still Telnet, and the dial tone determined whether or not you were going to be able to get your Furry-muck on that evening. But ’90s girls, please join me in a moment of silence for Sassy magazine. Sassy, giving today’s Teen Vogue its legitimate activism-lite marching orders. Sassy, which later evolved into the execrable Jane.
Digressions aside, as a white Midwestern gal of Gen X, Sassy was my window to a world beyond poof bangs and the vocational school rejects who mooed at me in the hallways. I devoured every issue, intent on filling my brain with activism, culture, and music.
Casting aside (for now) the obvious implications of my white-girl-fandom worship of all things strong black female musician, I harken back to the first hip-hop/rap album I bought – the 1991 release of “Nature of a Sista’” by the incredibly versatile and tough-as-shit, smooth-as-satin Queen Latifah (nee Dana Owens).
Part don’t-give-me-no-shit, part jazzy playfulness and uptempo positivity, “Nature” was a fixture on my CD player, one of the few discs I actually wore out (well, took really bad care of because it was in rotation so much and it got scratched all to hell).
It didn’t matter how smooth the grooves were (and believe me, they are butter), Latifah always showed up to lay a hard-as-hell styled rhyme, rat-a-tat nonstop that slides right into the chorus. “Bad As a Mutha” and “Latifah’s Had It Up to Here” as two examples.
Latifah’s career has seen a more contemporary jazz/broadway arc, with stints in “Chicago” and her own standards album. But when she pauses to lay down a solid banger, her unique blend of vocalizing and rapping (reference 1998’s “Paper“), she reminds us she’ll always be the Queen.
Hey, Sonny Vitkaukus, take us to the bridge.
Smart, opinionated, crabby, fortysomething who loves to word. Hates squirrels; rampant stupidity in the form of willful ignorance, bigotry and intolerance (yeah, reconcile THAT); and is starting to realize that Mike Judge is indeed a soothsayer.