At the turn of the millennium, mainstream music was mostly marked by overly-produced former Mickey Mouse Club members and hyper-aggro rap rock. After 9/11, commercial hip hop made a popular comeback. The sound became increasingly melodic, the lyrics romantic, and on-screen interactions remarkably affectionate.
As a child, watching Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” in the early ’90s made me dread the thought of socializing as a young adult. Would I be doomed to a life of volleyball games and bikini tops being ripped off? Is that my only option to make friends? I couldn’t imagine ten years later Snoop Dogg would actually have a song called “Beautiful,” or that it would have lines like “Hurry up and finish so we can watch Clueless” and “I just want you to know that you are really special.”
Most of the videos are really bad — the costumes and acting might be the worst of all time. But they have playful men and women clarifying their feelings and boundaries, all while maintaining self-confidence and not taking themselves too seriously. They seem really jokey and really healthy at the same time.
“Dilemma” Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland.
Lessons learned: Live in the neighborhood of those you dote. Picking up a guy you like in your man’s car is a good way to be “gangsta.” Tell someone you respect that they’re unavailable, and they will break down and come to you.
“What’s Luv” Fat Joe featuring Ashanti and Ja Rule
Lessons learned: Ask vague rhetorical questions as a way to buy yourself time. An ideal state of love should feel “like we be freaking on E.”
“Girls, Girls, Girls” Jay-Z
Lessons learned: Help a dude out. Hide his drugs.
“Beautiful” Snoop Dogg Featuring Pharrell
Lessons learned: People change. A man cooing compliments at you in falsetto is the best, when reserved in small doses.
“Mesemerize” Ja Rule featuring Ashanti
Lessons learned: Crazy, teenage, young love is the best. Carnivals are better date spots than sports games. Compromise your outfits now and then.