Striking A Chord

A Look at Musical Artists Who Stand the Test of Time

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PB English Teacher Mr. Ellis says that his favorite album of the 90’s is Pharcyde II: Bizarre Ride by The Pharcyde. “The album was released on my 16th birthday, and was literally the soundtrack to high school for me.”

Amina Hall, Staff Writer

“I told you, homeboy, You can’t touch this”

“This is how we do it, It’s Friday night and I feel all right” 

“Un-break my heart, Say you’ll love me again” 

“Say my name, say my name If no one is around you, Say baby I love you”

What do all these lyrics have in common? Well for one, if you know the song, you are probably reading the lyrics the way the artists sing them. Two, they’re all from popular songs and artists from the ’90s. Each artist – MC Hammer, Montell Jordan, Toni Braxton, and the girl group Destiny’s Child – all had hit songs because their music spoke to their audiences. While many of those reading this were probably not alive when all of these songs were at their peak, you have probably heard them at least once before while listening to your parent’s music. 

While MC Hammer, Jordan, Braxton, and Destiny’s Child are mentioned above, they are not the only artists who have struck a chord with people’s hearts. 

Shawn Corey Carter. Who’s that? Well, none other than Jay-Z. Rolling Stone depicts him as a true icon. They state, “He looms large in skills, impact, business acumen: the cool yet distant image of a former street hustler, a flow that’s both technically advanced and pop-savvy.” Mr. Andrew Murphy,  a teacher at Francis Scott Key Middle School (Key), confirms Jay-Z’s importance.  As to why his favorite artist is so good, Mr. Murphy says, “He has made music across 4 decades! Since he started he has been very popular and has been one of the few rappers who has been able to have prolonged and continued success as he ages.” 

Another Key teacher,  Mr. Neville Voglezon, says that he agrees with the Jay-Z relevance, but adds, “2pac, Snoop, Lauryn Hill, Mary J Blidge, Mariah Carey and more. Most of them were popular because their songs were played on the radio, in videos, and at parties a lot. They were popular because they appealed to the masses with a lot of catchy songs.”

Like Mr. Voglezon, Ms. Stacey Brooks, a fellow employee at Key, recognizes the talent of Mariah Carey. Ms. Brooks says, “I think Mariah Carey was pretty big in the ’90s. I think because she has a wide range of music and she did a lot of collaborations with different artists.” Both Ms. Brooks and Mr. Voglezon say that their favorite song by her is “Vision of Love.”

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame described Tupac Shakur as:  “Complex. Personal. Fearless. Tupac is authentic and larger than life” during the introduction of the artist’s induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Speaking on the topic of Tupac’s legacy, Snoop Dogg said, “ Pac is a part of history for a reason because he made history.” 

Dr. Lorenzo Prillman, an assistant principal at Key, says his favorite rap artist from the ’90s is Tupac. “ His music was controversial. People either hated him or loved him but they could not deny his talent. Tupac could be promoting ‘Thug Life’ one day and the next day speaking about injustices against black people in America. When I think about your project, these two artists [referring to his other favorite artist Michael Jackson] have stood the test of time because their music did so much to change the way people viewed the world, for the better.”

Ms. Maxine Tang, a math teacher at Paint Branch, shares a similar opinion as Dr. Prillman about 2Pac being one of her favorite artists. She says, “ When I was growing up, I felt like two of the best artists that I listened to were Biggie and Tupac. They were pretty much pioneers of the mainstream hip-hop/rap genre and their music was different than what was previously out there.”

Even though pop music is not so much a genre but a statistic – “popular music” – it is a designation that every artist wants to achieve. Speaking to the popularity that artists achieve, Ms. Allison Angowski, a math teacher at Key, identifies Taylor Swift as one of those artists who has managed to do so while working in a variety of styles. “She has many songs I enjoy. Her style changed, drawing a variety of people’s attention. She makes catchy songs that many girls can relate with,” says Ms. Agnowski.

Key English teacher Ms. Rebecca Funk says her favorite musical artist from the ’90s is Alanis Morrissette. As for why she was drawn to her, she says, “I think a lot of women and girls were drawn to her music because her songs were communicating things we all felt ~the pain of being rejected, the anger we felt when we were looked over because of our gender, the impossible expectations that were being put on us.”

Ms. Hilary Murphy, a counselor at Key, identified a more recent artist when she thought about “pop music,” Lady Gaga. “I really love all of Lady Gaga’s music,” says Ms. Murphy. Asked to pick one song that stands out, she says, “if I had to pick one, it would be ‘Born This Way.’. The song is catchy, but most importantly the message the song portrays and shows her unconditional support, love, and acceptance for the individuals in the LGBTQ community who are not accepted and/or rejected for who they truly are.” 

Mr. Antonios Kalargyros, an art teacher at Key is a fan of early 80’s to early 90’s heavy metal music. He says, “They were original in their genres Perhaps even leaders. Metallica really fine-tuned heavy metal music.  They were excellent musicians as well who created unique compositions. Iron Maiden stayed true to Heavy Metal. They were excellent musicians and made songs that did not conform to traditional music. Guns n’ Roses during the late 80’s revolutionized the California hard rock sound. AC/DC was always a straightforward rock band that did not do things to try to fit in with whatever was popular.  They are probably the most influential hard rock band of all time.”

Mr. Christopher Ellis, an English teacher at Paint Branch identifies a different artist as his favorite, The Pharcyde. Mr. Ellis says, “Favorite Album of the ‘90s: Pharcyde II: Bizarre Ride by The Pharcyde. Four unique voices, combined with the amazing production of J-Swift and SlimKid3, two massively underappreciated hip-hop Kings. The album was released on my 16th birthday, and was literally the soundtrack to high school for me.”

Music has played a role in people’s lives for centuries and over the years it has changed along with life itself. Rural areas are known for country music while cities are known for more hip-hop and rap, but you find listeners of both genres everywhere. Similarly, R&B and Heavy Metal may seem like complete opposites but those who enjoy it vary.  Music is like an extension of your personality,  so finding the right song and artist can change your life for the better.