Assignment #5

Jonathan Shecter
May 12, 2015 · 4 min read

As you look back on your time on this planet thus far, what songs meant the most to you? What artists or tracks have influenced who you are?

Today we’re discussing the music we love, the music that defines us. Please share the songs that shaped your identity, the songs you play to feel good, the music you return to most often for inspiration. Tell us about the songs that changed your life, the songs that made you feel free when you first heard them — and still do.

If you choose to write about one or two or three songs, please go ahead. If you want to write about an album, or an artist, that’s fine as well.

Our primary goal here is to share a selection of music that reveals something about ourselves. My story is below…

I was 11 years old when a kid in my class placed the vinyl single of “Rappers Delight” on a Fisher-Price turntable and dropped the plastic needle. The event changed my life.

I immediately recognized the beat. That bouncy bass, that groovy groove, it was the disco hit “Good Times” by Chic. But what were those vocals — those bold, chanted rhymes? This was something new, something I hadn’t heard before…

I said a hip-hop, hippie to the hippie
The hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop…

We were in 6th grade, but I already loved music. My hometown of Philadelphia had a rich musical history, particularly in Black music — Philly Soul, R&B. Growing up in the city I was exposed to the sounds and styles of urban culture daily. I was a young FM radio addict, plus lucky to have parents with a decent vinyl collection.

But what I heard that day was something new. Yes, it was the same beat as “Good Times,” but revamped with all-new rhyming lyrics, voices riding the rhythm like an instrument, defiant yet jubilant. The juxtaposition stirred a feeling I had never felt: freedom, excitement, big city thrills, a dash of danger.

Thru that tiny plastic speaker a revolution was kindling. I had to be a part of it. As it turned out, a healthy chunk of the world felt the same way.

“Rappers Delight” was a worldwide smash hit that ushered in a new genre — a new platform for expression — known as hip-hop. For me the record triggered a lifelong journey into music and the world surrounding it.

Fledgling hip-hop fans like me rode along on the disco-happy groove for a few years, until three guys from Hollis, Queens dropped a song that once again changed the game. The group was Run-DMC, and their stripped-down, streetwise style was the first pivotal step towards the sound of hip-hop we know today.

In 1984 I saw this performance on a single-episode television show called Graffiti Rock, and my connection to this music was once again transformed:

Now it’s your turn. Help us paint an even bigger picture of what it’s like to be 18 in America right now. Join the conversation by responding to this post with the music that means the most to you.

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18 in the Bay

What’s it like to be 18 right now?

Jonathan Shecter

Written by

Editor-in-Chief, Cuepoint at Medium

18 in the Bay

What’s it like to be 18 right now?

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