As soon as I was approached to make a mix for the TEENAGE website, I was excited and immediately overwhelmed by all the possibilities. Like most teenagers, there was nothing more important to me than listening to music. But of course it wasn’t just a matter of listening; it was more like drawing a map to the identity and sense of self I was searching for, a means to escape my surroundings which for reasons I didn’t fully understand were at odds with my inner being. There was an illogical belief inside me that if I just found that right music, I would find myself. This drama only intensified the inherent pleasure of listening to music nonstop.
As I started pulling out records from my youth and tracking down songs online, the possibilities, as well as the memories, were endless. The only thing immediately clear was that I had to focus on hip-hop. While I listened to a lot of music genres in my youth (Drum N Bass anyone?) nothing was more formative and vital as hip-hop, which is still the case in my thirties. Even within that genre, there were so many ways to thematically link it to being a teenager. I felt I could easily make 10 mixes before even scratching the surface.
I needed some parameters. I decided to focus on songs that meant a great deal to me when I was a teenager. Additionally, it had to be songs that I owned as a teenager, using my own records from that time whenever possible. Besides being introspective and indulgent seemed like the most ‘teenage’ thing to do, even if a better mix could have been made without such limitations.
I have made a lot of mixes that I really love but this was far and away the most rewarding. Rather than being aimless nostalgia, there is something deeply affirming about putting on a record you purchased 17 years ago, all the little idiosyncratic hisses and cracks transporting you to that time in your life. Despite changing significantly since my teen years, this mix still manages to point pretty clearly to the person I became.
Which just leaves Bjork, the only artist not closely affiliated with rap music (Money Mark being a collaborator with the Beastie Boys). It just had to be included. Nothing personifies my teenage years better than the line “my headphones, they saved my life” and the description of falling asleep listening to a mixtape, walkman in hand, enveloped in something far more elusive and transformative than the rather inadequate term ‘music’ could ever imply.
Drum Circle presents: My Baggy Sag
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1. TEENAGE Megamixx – DJ Drum Circle (intro)
2. Age Ain’t Nothin’ but a # – Chi Ali (1992)
3. 93 ‘til Infinity – Souls of Mischief (1993)
4. Help Me Out – Del the Funky Homosapien (1997)
5. Born To Roll – Masta Ace, Inc (1995)
6. 9th Wonder (Blackitolism) – Digable Planets (1994)
7. The Lesson, Pt. 1- The Roots (1994)
1. Never Stop – Money Mark (1995)
2. Only the Strong Survive (Dillinja Remix) – DJ Krush w/ CL Smooth (1996)
3. Strangers – Portishead (1994)
4. Mutual Slump – DJ Shadow (1996)
5. Weight – Indelible MCs (1998)
6. Graffiti – Digable Planets (1994)
7. 2000 Seasons – Reflection Eternal (1997)
8. Headphones – Bjork (1995)
—David Michael Perez is a writer, cultural theorist, DJ, and co-founder of FEAST (Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics) who lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. As a teenager David made mixtapes, wrote poetry, and sported questionable facial hair.