March 25th 1997
Context is everything, so here's a little background to my hip hop confession. It was my final semester in high school in March 1997 and I was attending a poor man's continuation school which no longer exists (the school was shutdown soon after my graduation). Actually, it was a rich man's high school. You see, I wasn't always the upstanding citizen that I am today. Your boy Pipo got himself kicked out of high school for slangin' dime sacks of "oregano" to some high school snitches. It wasn't exactly a sting operation on the level of the Bin Laden raid. Just some freshman that seemed to have an insatiable appetite for "oregano" and a seemingly endless supply of ten dollar bills. I was too stupid to know any better so I happily supplied to meet the demand until one day a bunch of 21 Jump Street assholes came out of the bushes and cuffed your favorite blogger. To make a long story short, I didn't just get kicked out of my high school, I was such a gigantic fuck up that I wasn't even allowed to attend the local continuation high school with all the other fuck ups. The 21 Jump Street folk really had me by the balls because dumb ass me decided to get caught after my 18th birthday. Being 18 didn't just mean that I was the lucky lottery ticket holder to a one way ticket to big boys jail, it also meant that my local school district was no longer obligated to educate my ignorant self.
I didn't grow up rich, but I certainly didn't grow up poor. Fortunately for me, my parents had the means to pay some lawyers who performed some courtroom voodoo to help me avoid being called Shirley in some state penitentiary. Now, the whole school thing was a little more complicated than I'm leading on, but I don't want to bore you with details. So, why am I telling you all this? Well, to understand the significance of March 25, 1997, you've got to understand how I ended up where I ended up on this memorable date in hip hop history. Make sense yet? Not really, but it will.
As I mentioned earlier, I didn't grow up poor. I was raised by two immigrant parents who represent every positive stereotype of the "American Dream." In other words, my parents are ardent believers in the power of hard work and education. So when their f*ck up of a son got himself kicked out of school, they weren't about to call it a rap on my educational career. In pursuit of finding someplace for me to finish my high school education, I remember my mom taking me to private school after private school, hat in hand, hoping they'd allow her fuck up of a son to attend their school so her son could avoid being a high school drop out. School after school found different, polite ways to say that I was too toxic to attend their school. I can only imagine how humiliating of an experience that was for a woman as dignified as my mom. Me on the other hand, I was too dumb to know any better.
Finally, after several weeks of searching we found a private continuation school that was willing to take my parents' money. This school was really something else. This school wasn't just your ordinary school of short-bus rejects. Students at this school ranged from 23 year-old Asian gang members (who's parents with means refused to allow their 23 year old son to drop out of high school) to 14 year old gay boys who were kicked out of school for sucking dick in the school bathroom. It was quite an eclectic mix of social misfits to say the least.
In any event, I did my best to stay somewhere between the convicted felons and the Santa Monica Blvd. street walkers in training. In doing so, I met some pretty cool peeps who were just as into hip hop as I was. This brings me to March 25, 1997. This was the date where two highly anticipated albums were scheduled to drop, Notorious B.I.G.'s "Life After Death" and Warren G's "Take a Look Over Your Shoulder." What the fuck? Did I just read Warren G's "Take a Look Over Your Shoulder" in the same sentence as "Life After Death?" Yes you did. You see, you have to understand that nothing got more play in my tapedeck from 1993-1997 than Warren G's "G-Funk Era" album. After all, rhythm is life and life is rhythm. I was all about the G Funk. Hell, all I wore for 3 solid years were plain crew-neck sweatshirts and jeans (biting Warren G's look in the This DJ video). Those living in the L.A. area probably understand where I was coming from at the time. Those outside of the L.A. area probably think I was smoking crack instead of "oregano."
Obviously, Biggie's second album was eagerly anticipated by all especially considering the fact that he was murdered just two weeks before its release. However, Warren G's second album was also an anticipated release for those sucked into the G-Funk Era of the early 1990's West Coast sound. Keep in mind that all of this is happening before all of our hip hop heroes delivered disappointing sophomore album after disappointing sophomore album. I just didn't know any better than to be amped for Warren G's second release.
The much anticipated March 25th, 1997 finally arrived. I started the morning of March 25th with a first period conversation with my hip hop buddy (who we'll call Roc) talking about how we're going to buy the new Biggie and Warren G after school. As we started talking about how excited we were to listen to both albums, we started wondering whether our nearby Warehouse Music would be sold out of copies of both albums. The more we talked about it, the more we started to panic that there wouldn't be any copies left at 3pm. We both decided that we'd have to get to Warehouse Music sooner. The problem was that our school was locked down like a maximum security prison. Several false fire alarms and fake bomb threats later, my man Roc and I were driving in my 91 Toyota Tercel on our way to Warehouse Music.
Once we finally arrived at Warehouse Music we were both relieved to see that they had plenty of copies of both "Life After Death" and "Take a Look Over Your Shoulder." We both bought copies of each and immediately took all that damn plastic wrapping off of the CD's like impatient kids opening presents on Christmas morning. Then came the moment of truth. We were rolling in my ride so I had the power to choose what we would listen to first. Without hesitation, Roc handed me the Biggie CD. I then said, "Nah man, get me that Warren G." That's right I said it! Warren G's "Take a Look Over Your Shoulder" got play before Biggie's classic "Life After Death." In fact, it wasn't until March 26th that Biggie's "Life After Death" ever got play in the old Toyota Tercel. "I once knew a trick named Annie Mae"