“This is for them 20-somethings. Time really moves fast, you were just 16.” – Beyonce, 4 (2011)
This May makes five years that I’ve been out of high school. So much has changed. I’ve changed. The people I graduated with have changed. The town and school have changed. However, one thing that transcends time is music. There are certain albums from my high school years (2008-2012) that immediately transport me back to the days of Silly Bandz, Jersey Shore, and Vera Bradley bags (I was low key bad and boujee in high school, but that’s a different post for a different day). A few include:
Still da Baddest – Trina (2008)
Say what you may, but I’ve always liked Trina – even as a kid (I know, I know). Still da Baddest made me a true fan, though. A bit of background: my best friend’s older sister is my older sister’s best friend. We’re basically a group of sister-besties. One week during my freshman year, my sister was away on a school trip so her best friend drove me home from school. She played this album and I loved it! You can still find me today blasting songs like “Single Again” as I fly down the interstate!
Ready – Trey Songz (2009)
I loved Trey Songz so much in high school to the point that it’s embarrassing now. When we learned how to probably label a piece of fan mail in my CBA class, I chose to write and send mine to Trey. Though I’m more than confident my teacher never mailed the letters, I put my heart and soul into it! I think I loved him so much because he hit his peak as Chris Brown was hitting his downward spiral; AKA when he assaulted Rihanna. I had to have somebody to be obsessed with! Ready was the album that took me from being like, “oh, Trey-Songz-that-dude-with-the-braids?” to “oh, Trey-Songz-my-husband?”
We Are Young Money – Young Money (2009)
Young Money ran hip-hop during my high school years. We Are Young Money was the beginning of an era! You couldn’t go through the spring and summer of 2010 without hearing hits like “Every Girl,” “Roger That,” and “BedRock” on the radio. It also gave us more formal introductions to up-and-coming artists like Drake, Nicki Minaj, and (sigh) Tyga. I do having one pressing question, though; where is Lil Twist and Lil Chuckee? We need answers!
Pink Friday – Nicki Minaj (2010)
With multi-colored wigs and outlandish outfits, Nicki Minaj was one of the most exciting artists to step on the scene when I was in high school. We used to rap her “5 Star” verse WITH the animations in unison at the lunch table freshman year. After a string of memorable features, everyone was excited when she finally released her debut album Pink Friday. This album produced a string of hits such as “Your Love,” “Right Thru Me,” “Super Bass,” and “Moment 4 Life.” I’m still proud that I can rap “Roman’s Revenge” word for word at 23.
Teenage Dream – Katy Perry (2010)
Everybody loved Teenage Dream! And if you didn’t, you probably just realized that you actually did or you’re still in denial. This was THE album in high school. This album set a new standard for pop music and I feel all girlish and 17 again every time I hear tracks like “Firework” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” I’m still jealous that I’m not from California whenever I hear “California Gurls.”
Loud – Rihanna (2010)
Rihanna ran music in the early 2010s. She released three different albums during my high school tenure: Rated R, Loud, and Talk That Talk. I’m biased for choosing Loud for this list because it’s my all-time favorite Rihanna album and arguably the best out of the three. This Rihanna era gave us that iconic fire red hair, an “are-they-together-or-not” relationship with Drake, and an array of diverse tracks like “What’s My Name?,” “S&M,” “Man Down,” and “California King Bed” – a staple on every mix CD I ever made for my Jeep. Ugh, take me back!
21 – Adele (2011)
21 isn’t Adele’s debut album, but it’s certainly the one that pushed her into superstardom. By the end of my junior year and for all of my senior year, you couldn’t make a five minute trip in the car without hearing “Rolling in the Deep,” a song I still refuse to listen to to this day. Admittedly, I only bought this album with some Christmas money because everybody else loved it. But over time, I fell in love with the songwriting, her voice, and the melodies of the tracks that proved Adele was around to stay.
Tha Carter IV – Lil Wayne
After serving a prison sentence and suffering several delays, everyone was excited when Lil Wayne finally released Tha Carter IV. I can remember going on college days,
skipping class going to sell yearbook ads, and riding around with friends to records like “John,” my personal favorite, “She Will,” and getting to experience a softer side of Wayne with “How to Love.”
Cole World: The Sideline Story – J. Cole (2011)
Along with Tha Carter IV, Cole World: The Sideline Story was one of the most anticipated projects during my senior year. Following up his mixtapes, J. Cole added some much needed depth to the rap industry with this debut studio album that yielded songs like “Lost Ones” and “Dollar and a Dream III,” and something about “Nobody’s Perfect” transports me back to lazy rides home after school and warding off senioritis on Sunday evenings. *sighs in nostalgic bliss*
Take Care – Drake (2011)
I’ve always had special feelings about Drake. I’m not like my best friend, who loved him even during his Degrassi days when he had a jacked up fro and she “knew he was gon’ be somebody” (actual quote from her). I think that very thing has always been my problem with Drake. I can’t get past him playing Jimmy in the wheelchair and take him seriously as a rapper. However, I, like most sane people, am willing to agree that Take Care was and still is an incredible album from top to bottom. This album was practically the soundtrack to my senior year, from late night trips home from away football games to prom. He’s still Jimmy from Degrassi, though.
You couldn’t pay me to go back to high school, but when I think about certain music and memories, I almost could for a split second – a very split one. What albums take you back to your high school years?
X’s and O’s