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This monthly podcast looks back at the pop culture of Generation X, from an African-American perspective.

Oct 1, 2020

Topics: Tupac death, Fugees, Set It Off, Moesha (Bonus Artist: hidingtobefound)

1996 Snapshots

1.    President: Bill Clinton

2.    Jan - Whitewater scandal: U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton testifies before a grand jury.

3.    Feb - Daniel Green is convicted of the murder of James Jordan, the father of basketball star Michael Jordan.

4.    Mar - Lyle and Erik Menendez are found guilty of first-degree murder for the shotgun killing of their parents.

5.    Apr - Chicago Bulls set a new NBA record for the most wins in a season, 70.

6.    May -?

7.    Jun - The Colorado Avalanche wins their first Stanley Cup in their first season based out of Denver and The Chicago Bulls win their fourth NBA Championship by defeating the Seattle Supersonics.

8.    July - The Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics kills 2 and injures 111.

9.    Aug - Tiger Woods makes his professional PGA Tour debut.

10.    Sep - Tupac Shakur dies.

11.    Oct - The Fox News Channel is launched.

12.    Nov - Bill Clinton defeats Republican challenger Bob Dole to win his second term.

13.    Dec - Death of JonBenét Ramsey: A six-year-old beauty queen is beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado; her body is found the following day.

14.    Open Comments:

15.    Music Snapshots

16.    #1 Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix), Los del Río

17.    #2 One Sweet Day, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men

18.    #3 Because You Loved Me, Celine Dion

19.    Record of the Year: Change the World – Eric Clapton

20.    Album of the Year: Falling Into You – Celine Dion

21.    Song of the Year: Change the World

22.    Best New Artist: LeAnn Rimes

23.    Best Female R&B Vocal Performance: You're Makin' Me High – Toni Braxton

24.    Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: Your Secret Love – Luther Vandross

25.    Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: Killing Me Softly – Fugees

26.    Best R&B Song: Exhale (Shoop Shoop), Babyface, songwriter (Whitney Houston)

27.    Best R&B Album: Words – The Tony Rich Project

28.    Best Rap Solo Performance: Hey Lover – LL Cool J

29.    Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: Tha Crossroads – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

30.    Best Rap Album: The Score – Fugees

31.    Movie Snapshots

32.    #1 Independence Day

33.    #2 Twister

34.    #3 Mission: Impossible

35.    Notables: Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, The Birdcage, Fargo, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, The Nutty Professor, Kazaam, Set It Off, Space Jam, Jerry Maguire.

36.    TV Snapshots

37.    #1 - ER

38.    #2 - Seinfeld

39.    #3 - Suddenly Susan

40.    Debuts: Moesha, The Daily Show, Kenan & Kel, The Steve Harvey Show, In The House, Malcolm & Eddie, Homeboys in Outer Space, The Jamie Foxx Show

41.    Economic Snapshots

42.    Income = 36.3k (Previously 36K)

43.    House = 118.2K (113)

44.    Car = 16.3k (15.5)

45.    Rent = 554(550)

46.    Harvard = 27.5k (26k)

47.    Movie = 4.42 (4.35)

48.    Gas = 1.22 (1.12)

49.    Stamp = .32 (-)

50.    Social Scene: Tupac Killed

51.    Childhood: Tupac Shakur, born Parish Crooks, was born on June 16, 1971, to Black Panther activist parents in New York City. Thirteen days later, his mother, Alice Faye Walker (Afeni Shakur), changed his name. The parents wanted to avoid him being targeted by Black Panther-affiliated enemies. His mother was imprisoned while she was pregnant with him. Tupac's father, Billy Garland, was also a Panther but lost contact with Afeni when Tupac was five years old. The rapper would not see his father again until he was 23 - I thought my father was dead all my life.

52.    Early Life: He had a difficult childhood, as he grew up in the company of criminals, militant activist, violence, and a drugged addicted mother with a transient lifestyle. Art became a constructive and safe escape. His first acting stint was in 1983 (@12 yrs. old) with the Harlem’s 127th StreetRepertory Ensemble when he performed in a play ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ at the Apollo Theater. In 1984, Tupac's family moved from New York City to Baltimore, Maryland.There he studied poetry, jazz, acting, and ballet at the Baltimore School for the Arts and befriended Jada Pinkett. The family later moved to Marin City, California, across the bay from Oakland, in 1988 (@17 yrs. old). They went to the home of a woman Afeni had been close to during her Black Panther days and lived in a poor housing complex, referred to as ‘the Jungle.’

53.    Early Career: While attending high school he participated in a poetry workshop known as The Microphone Sessions, organized by Leila Steinberg, who would eventually become his first manager. She introduced 19-year-old Tupac to Atron Gregory, a manager for the World Class Wrekin Cru’ and tour manager for NWA, who had just returned to the Bay Area, started TNT Records, and quickly gained attention by signing Digital Underground.  Gregory matched Tupac with Digital Underground as a roadie and backup dancer. Tupac’s talent was soon recognized by the group, and he began rapping in some of their songs. He debuted on ‘Same Song,’ which was featured in the 1991 film Nothing But Trouble. (@20 yrs. old)

54.    Solo Career: He released his debut solo album ‘2Pacalypse Now’ in 1991. (Big hit - 'Brenda's Got a Baby') Also in 1991, Shakur filed a $10-million lawsuit against the Oakland Police Department for allegedly brutalizing him over jaywalking. The case was settled for about $43,000. (1992 - Juice, first starring role) His second album, ‘Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z’ came out in 1993. It was more successful than its predecessor and contained the hits ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ and ‘I Get Around’. (1993 - Poetic Justice, co-starred with Janet Jackson) In 1994, he formed a group Thug Life and they released one album ‘Thug Life: Volume 1. (1994 - Above the Rim, Co-starred with Duane Martin) During this period he had several brushes with the law (he was associated with the shooting of a 6 yr. old Qa'id Walker-Teal in Marin City / shooting two policemen / various physical assaults) and was shot in an armed robbery case. After recovering from the shooting, he was sent to prison on a sexual assault charge. He released the album ‘Me Against the World’ in 1995 (@24) while serving his prison term. The album was an immediate hit and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.

55.    Final Album: During 1995, while imprisoned, impoverished, and with his mother about to lose her house, Tupac had his wife get word to Marion Suge Knight, in Los Angeles, boss of the Death Row Records, at the time a verry successful company, and asked for a meeting. Tupac's mother received $15k, Suge paid Tupac's $1.4m bail, signed the rapper, and went to work on the album ‘All Eyez on Me’. The album was recorded in two weeks! In a matter of two weeks, Tupac recorded and completed the double-disc album, completing two out of three albums he owed Death Row. (The third release would end up being the posthumously released The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory) Released in February of 1996, the album featured five singles and went multi-Platinum in just a few months after its release.

56.    Death: Seven months later, in September 1996, Tupac was killed in a drive-by shooting. He was 25 years old.

57.    Open Comments:

58.    Question: Confused young man or someone to be taken seriously? (What did he represent?)

59.    Music Scene:

60.    Black Songs in the Top 40

61.    #1 Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix), Los del Río

62.    #2 One Sweet Day, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men

63.    #4 Nobody Knows, The Tony Rich Project

64.    #5 Always Be My Baby, Mariah Carey

65.    #6 Give Me One Reason, Tracy Chapman

66.    #7 Tha Crossroads, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony

67.    #9 You're Makin' Me High / Let It Flow, Toni Braxton

68.    #10 Twisted, Keith Sweat

69.    #11 C'mon N' Ride It (The Train), Quad City DJ's

70.    #14 Exhale (Shoop Shoop), Whitney Houston

71.    #16 Sittin' Up in My Room, Brandy

72.    #17 How Do U Want It / California Love, 2Pac featuring K-Ci and JoJo

73.    #20 Hey Lover, LL Cool J

74.    #21 Loungin, LL Cool J

75.    #23 Be My Lover, La Bouche

76.    #27 I Can't Sleep Baby (If I), R. Kelly

77.    #32 Not Gon' Cry, Mary J. Blige

78.    #33 Gangsta's Paradise, Coolio featuring L.V.

79.    #34 Only You, 112 featuring The Notorious B.I.G. and Mase

80.    #35 Down Low (Nobody Has to Know), R. Kelly featuring The Isley Brothers

81.    #36 You're the One, SWV

82.    #37 Sweet Dreams, La Bouche

83.    #38 Before You Walk Out of My Life / Like This and Like That, Monica

84.    #40 1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New), Coolio

85.    #42 No Diggity, Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre

86.    Vote:

87.    Top RnB Albums

88.    Jan - Waiting to Exhale, Soundtrack / Various artists

89.    Feb - Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton, Eazy-E

90.    Mar - All Eyez on Me, 2Pac

91.    Mar - The Score, Fugees

92.    Apr - The Coming, Busta Rhymes

93.    Apr - The Resurrection, Geto Boys

94.    Jun - Gettin' It (Album Number Ten), Too Short

95.    Jun - Legal Drug Money, Lost Boyz

96.    Jun - The Nutty Professor, Soundtrack / Various artists

97.    Jul - Secrets, Toni Braxton

98.    Jul - Keith Sweat, Keith Sweat

99.    Jul - It Was Written, Nas

100.    Aug - Beats, Rhymes and Life, A Tribe Called Quest

101.    Sep - ATLiens, Outkast

102.    Sep - Home Again, New Edition

103.    Oct - Another Level, Blackstreet

104.    Nov - Bow Down, Westside Connection

105.    Nov - Ironman, Ghostface Killah

106.    Nov - The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, Makaveli

107.    Nov - Tha Doggfather, Snoop Dogg

108.    Dec - Hell on Earth, Mobb Deep

109.    Dec - Muddy Waters, Redman

110.    Vote:

111.    Featured Artist: The Fugees

112.    Lauryn Hill (@21 yrs. old in 1996) was born in 1975 to a high school teacher and computer expert in New Jersey. Her mother played piano and her father sang in nightclubs. Young Lauryn sang in church choirs, gospel groups and showed a strong voice. She loved '60s and '70s soul and by age thirteen, she was playing the amateur night showtime at the Apollo, doing a cover of Smokey Robinson's "Who's Loving You". Hill nabbed minor roles on television's As the World Turns and in the film Sister Act II: Back in the Habit. Her work with the Fugees began in 1987 in high school with friend Prakazrel Samuel Michel.

113.    "Pras" (@23 in 1996) was born in Brooklyn in 1972 and raised in New Jersey. He showed an early interest in music and attended Rutgers University and Yale University, pursuing a double major in Philosophy and Psychology.

114.    Wyclef Jean (@27 yrs. old) was born in 1969 in Haiti, the son of a minister. When he was nine, he moved to the projects of Brooklyn, and later New Jersey, where he took up guitar and the study of music.

115.    The trio formed in the late '80s, named themselves the Tranzlator Crew and used Hill's soap opera acting proceeds to pay for equipment. They toured the tri-state area and were signed to major label Ruffhouse/Columbia in 1993. Hill was still a minor. Shortly thereafter, they renamed themselves Fugees, a derisive slang term for refugees, and released a debut 12-inch Fugees (Tranzlator Crew) "Boof Baf" to no notable sales.

116.    Their 1994 debut LP Blunted on Reality, stylized in a fashion like A Tribe Called Quest, Poor Righteous Teachers, and Digable Planets, did better. However, it was the remixed versions of "Nappy Head (Mona Lisa)" and "Vocab" that earned the group another budget for a follow-up album. (Also, notable, in later interviews Pras would say that a married Wyclef and the underage Hill were having a clandestine relationship at the time)

117.    Combining a mix of conscious hip hp, soul, and reggae, with a homemade basement studio, sampled melodies, live guitars, bass, keys, "The Score" arrived in 1996, filling the void between gangsta and glitter. It became an instant classic, ultimately selling over 18 million copies.

118.    Open Comments:

119.    Internal "Affairs": In the summer of 1996, on the Smoking Grooves Tour, Hill met Rohan Marley, (one of Bob Marley's kids) and even though the former University of Miami football player was initially rebuffed, because Hill was still seeing Jean, , no one knew who the child really belonged to.

120.    In the summer of 1996 Hill had met Rohan Marley, a son of Bob Marley and a former University of Miami football player. Hill subsequently began a relationship with him, while still also involved with the married Wyclef. She soon became visibly pregnant. Marley and Hill's first child was born the following summer.

121.    Soon after Zion was born, she learned that Marley already had a wife and two children from another marriage.

122.    Amid newfound international fame and baby Daddy drama, Wyclef did not support Hill's solo desires (she had made appearances on Wyclef's solo project), thus leading to the group splitting up.

123.    Hill started work on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill; blocking out Wyclef Jean from any type of production help after he had snubbed her. Her old-school takes on "Doo Wop (That Thing)" helped it rule the charts in 1998 and win five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Album -- the most ever for a woman.

124.    Meanwhile, Hill was having more of Marley's children and becoming close with Brother Anthony, a spiritual adviser who studied the Bible with her several times per week. In 2001, she recorded an MTV Unplugged session where she broke down in tears and admitted to being deranged and emotionally unstable. Rolling Stone called the session "a public breakdown", though it debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and went platinum.

125.    She has been a sporadic and reluctant public figure ever since.

126.    Question: Have you ever had an affair with a co-worker? How did it turn out?

127.    Movie Scene: Set It Off. [Directed by F. Gary Gray Action, Crime, Drama, Romance, Thriller. Starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett, and Vivica A. Fox]

128.    Rotten Tomatoes, Critics Consensus: It may not boast an original plot, but Set It Off is a satisfying, socially conscious heist film thanks largely to fine performances from its leads.

129.    Emanuel Levy, Variety 11-1996: Influenced by "Thelma & Louise" and "Waiting to Exhale," F. Gary Gray's "Set It Off" is a well-crafted girls-n-the-hood actioner, with an acute social conscience and plenty of soul. A tale of female bonding and empowerment, this relevant film boasts a terrific cast, headed by Jada Pinkett and Queen Latifah in career-making performances.

130.    Stephen Holden, New York Times 11-1996: Just Trying to Get Even While They Get Rich. On the long list of Hollywood heist movies that make you root for its criminals to steal a million dollars and live happily ever after, F. Gary Gray's film ''Set It Off'' is one of the most poignantly impassioned. If this messy roller coaster of a film often seems to be going in several directions at once, it never for a second loses empathy for its quartet of black female bank robbers who grew up together in a Los Angeles housing project and earn meager wages working for a janitorial service... A pop psychologist might translate the story into a fable called ''Women Who Rob Banks and the Society That Hates Them.'

131.    Roger Ebert 11-1996: “Set It Off” is advertised as a thriller about four black women who rob banks. But it's a lot more than that. It creates a portrait of the lives of these women that's so observant and informed; it's like “Waiting to Exhale” with a strong jolt of reality. The movie surprised and moved me: I expected a routine action picture and was amazed how much I started to care about the characters.

132.    Kent, Entertainment Weekly 09-2019: Why Set It Off is an era-defining film that shouldn't be remade. We are clearly in the age of reboots and remakes, but the '90s heist film is irreplaceable.

133.    Question 1: Remake or Sequel?

134.    Question 2: Do we really want more black female action heroines/stories? (i.e., women of Black Panther, "Breaking In" movie, Berry, Valkyrie, Guardians...etc.)

135.    TV Scene: Moesha

136.    Screen Rant: No show lasts for six seasons without making a cultural impact; Moesha was nominated for 32 awards and won three: two NAACP Image Awards and one SHINE Award. The series was syndicated, and still airs around the world. Netflix picked up streaming rights to the series in 2020, which became available to US subscribers on August 1, 2020. As new viewers will discover, however, despite how influential the show was, it ends abruptly after a significant cliffhanger for the main character in the season 6 finale. Despite the recognition, the show steadily declined in ratings, leading to its cancelation.

137.    Moesha Mitchell went through quite the journey on Moesha. At the beginning of the series, Moesha was still dealing with her mother's death a few years prior and learning to come to terms with her new stepmother, Deirdre "Dee" Mitchel (Sheryl Lee Ralph) — who just happened to be the vice principal at Moesha's school. The final season sees Brandy experiencing the trials and tribulations of being a young adult, complete with an engagement to long-time on-again, off-again boyfriend Quinton "Q" Brooks (Fredro Starr) and attending college. The final episode ends with the reveal of a positive pregnancy test in Moesha's dorm — who it belongs to, however, is a mystery. Since the show never got another season, the storyline was never resolved.

138.    According to EW, at the time, UPN's plan was to address the pregnancy cliffhanger in the spin-off series The Parkers, which premiered on the network in 1999. The Parkers followed Moesha's "boy-crazy" friend Kimberly Ann "Kim" Parker as she navigated attending college with her mother, who has decided to enlist at the same time as her daughter. For unknown reasons, however, the planned resolution never took place, despite The Parkers running until 2005. With there being reports of a possible reboot series in the works, perhaps this Moesha storyline — as well as the question of what happened to Moesha's brother Myles, who disappeared in the finale — can finally be laid to rest."

139.    Question: Is it reboot worthy? / Is any classic black TV show reboot worthy?

140.    Vote: Best/most important/favorite pop culture item from 1996?