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The lack of love last week for the Led Zepplin epic of our time has forced my hand. Seriously though, this conjures memories of me, circa 2001, sauntering up to Kenyatta and saying something like--"Hey, have you heard of this band Led Zepplin? They're pretty good!"


Kenyatta greeted me with all the disgust I'm sure you're radiating while reading this. She went to school in the suburbs of Chicago surround by white kids who played this joint incessantly. I labored under no such constraints and proceeded to put IV in heavy, heavy rotation. I'm a little upset that's it's dropped.

At any rate, here is your black privilege--The right to enjoy "Stairway to Heaven" without the weight of trite radio  and a predictable "best of...," I hear "Stairway" and I don't roll my eyes. I hear it as something new and amazing, the way you hear "Daytona 500."

It's amazing how art ties itself to memory. I don't just remember "Triumph" as a great song, I remember the first time I heard it, I remember people whistling in the club during U-God's verse. It's how we make music our own. This song is tied to everything I was never supposed to like, and a lot of what I never thought I wanted. 

So, in that vein, I hear "Stairway" and I am humiliated by my old young prejudice. It's awesome. Happens every damn time.


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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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