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One of the great feelings of the pre-internet was the method through which music was delivered. You might catch something on the radio, or on mixtape, or on video jukebox, and then you'd go blab to your friends about it. But you might not actually hear the joint for days, weeks, and an extreme case months. 


Still it was nothing like getting that call on your non-cordless phone and trying to imagine the thing that had your friends going. You might even get lucky and catch them with the song playing. Then they'd hold the receiver up to the boombox and you'd catch what you could. We didn't much care about sound quality. I can't tell you how desperate we were. Nothing else mattered.

That was how I came to this joint. I remember my man humming the piano riff. I had to hear it. I don't think I saw the video until a year later. (No cable.) Still even today, you can catch me wandering down Amsterdam mumbling, "Spinderalla, my DJ's, a turntable trooper\My partner Peppa, she's a power-booster."


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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

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