RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Thursday, April 26

EWA100 - #53. Black Sheep - The Choice is Yours

53. Black Sheep - The Choice Is Yours (Mercury. 1991. From the LP A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing)

Raven Mack: It took me a long time to get up for writing about this song, not because I never liked it, because I still own the Black Sheep tape and it sits solidly in my grocery bag full of old cassettes, but when I thought back on Black Sheep when they blew up, I remembered I didn’t rock out to them forever, because they were white girl music.
Now, I am a white guy, so I’m not hating on white girls. I love white girls as much as anybody, for the obvious reasons, but when it comes to hip hop, white girls take up a different space than white guys. (This does not mean those white girls who become impregnated with blackness and start rocking the too-tight ponytail and big hoop earrings and talk like they grew up in Brooklyn even though the last nine generations of their family has lived just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina; this is more about those forever-white white girls who will eventually live happily married to a white guy and drive a soccer mom starter car – usually a Subaru of some sort – to go out and get organic things to put inside the family’s bellies.) But there’s a certain watered-down acceptability of hip hop for white girls. I mean, white guys can see the inherent beauty in smoking too much weed, drinking Beam, and swerving through the night while blasting Ice Cube’s Amerikkka’s Most Wanted. White girls don’t see the goodness in that shit… it’s all too assaulting. They like happier more laid-back rap, tolerating sex talk so long as it’s not too explicit, and very little gun talk. Native Tongues, Good Life Health Food Café, Black Star type shit. Hell, it’s only because of white girls that anyone on earth would even consider G. Love & Special Sauce a form of rap music. Basically, white girl rap has to go good with Bob Marley.
Well, in my memory bank, I remember white girls being mad into Black Sheep, that was acceptable rap music for them. I guess that’s why I don’t retroflect kindly back at Black Sheep. Though this song was EVERYWHERE when it was big. Everywhere. But I only seem to remember the white girls.
This also could stem from me having just started college when this came out, and the prospect of mining crazy amounts of white girl sugar walls was there, but I was never motivated enough to carve a thousand notches on the headboard. And I’m sure Dres got crazy white girl sugar walls at that point, so perhaps there’s some playa hatred on my part involved. But probably not, because I never gave a fuck about other people getting more ass than me. I think it’s more just the whole white girl stigma I’ve put in my head, because rap music for me is about getting loud and getting crazy and getting chinky-eyed and, from my experiences, the injection of a white girl’s mentality into your life is usually a shackle upon that type of carefree recklessness. Chicks tend to care about shit so much that they don’t ignore it, whereas I care about things, but when presented with a choice to get loose as fuck without regard for my own well-being or future financial stability, it easily overwhelms my ability to care about shit I’m supposed to do.
So I’ve talked very little about the song itself… basically, if you’re a white chick, you’re gonna love this song if you’ve never heard it. But you’ve already heard it. I bet you’ve even done the running man while listening to it.

Mike Dikk: I always assumed that I would hate this song fifteen years after its release, but I don’t. For some reason, I thought it would replace “The Electric Slide” at weddings and like-minded functions, but it never got to that. I still think that by the time I’m in my 40s, it will be a wedding staple. It’s kind of like that whole Camp Lo “Luchini” scenario I wrote about. I’ll be forever programmed to love this song as time passes me by.
Though I’ve listened to “The Choice is Yours” nearly 15 million times in my life, I have one vivid memory related to it that sticks out more than others. I don’t mean to cheapen it, but the same vivid memory could be used for Fu Schnickens “La Schmoove” too, but that didn’t make the list, even though I nominated it. People be hatin’ on Fu Schnickens, so I was alone on that one.
When I was in 8th grade, I still lived in a poor city. We didn’t have middle schools like normal towns for some weird reason. Instead, all schools were K-8. So when you finished 8th grade it was a big deal because you were in the same fucking school for nine years of your life and you were finally done with it.
Our 8th grade graduation trip was basically supposed to be as important as a high school senior’s prom. Our regular year-end field trips would usually be to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, but for 8th grade, we went to this place called Holiday Hills. It was like a resort for preteens. I’m not sure if this is like a common thing or if it was exclusive to my area, but I still think a resort for preteens is a weird thing. I’m sure you could rent the place for family reunions or something, but I know it was mainly used for kids.
Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe it was for kids who lived in cities who didn’t have grass and stuff, because that’s basically what it was. A bunch of grassy fields designated for specific sports, then trails and stuff. The whole place was swarming with 13- and 14-year-olds from all different city schools in the surrounding area and very few adult supervisors.
I don’t think many of the kids participated in any actual activities. We all just kind of walked around bullshitting with each other and trying to meet girls from other schools. I did meet a girl there. We went on a hayride together. Then I gave her my number and she never called me. THAT BITCH.
Anyway, this song, along with “La Schmoove” and a few other megahits of the moment were being blasted from every walkman and boombox in the vicinity. This is also when I had my solid red Etonics which are probably number two on my All-Time Favorite Sneakers I’ve owned list. I know right now, “Etonics” conjures up pictures of old ladies in ugly walking shows, but for a short time, Etonics were the shit, and every kid had a different solid color of Etonics. I don’t know why I liked the red ones so much, because my favorite color has always been blue, and most of my designer fad sneakers at that time were always blue if that was a choice... but I digress.
There was this Pavilion in the middle of the whole field/resort/nature trail thing, where I think you ate hot dogs and hung out if you were an inside kid like me. There was a stage off to the corner of it, and I remember a group of girls from my school in jumpers with one strap unbuttoned and loud House shirts doing an elaborate Fly Girls/Def Comedy Jam style dance to this song while everyone watched. For some reason, that memory sticks out in my mind the most when I randomly hear “The Choice is Yours”, which is still quite often. It’s still a staple on Old School Throwback Urban Jamz Radio segments, and it kind of sucks when they play it, because the two bit DJ will always extend the “Engine Engine, Number 9” part out for entirely too long.
It’s no secret that I kind of hate nature. I’m really comfortable around concrete and gloom and dirty grey buildings, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was a really great day in my life. Being outside in the sun basically unsupervised meeting kids from all over the state without having to worry about the traditional downers of city life was a pretty unique experience to me and most of my friends, so it meant a lot to me. At that point, it was probably the greatest day of my life, but since then I’ve grown up and managed to do a lot of things on my volition that would qualify as great days. Still though, a lot of those great days I’ve had in my grown up years were doing Inside Kid things. Very few, if any, have to do with being at a crazy country resort for city kids and watching my fellow classmates get down to “The Choice is Yours” and going on hayrides with girls from distant schools. It totally made up for getting forced into playing Knuckles with the scary kids on the bus ride up.

Download: Black Sheep - The Choice is Yours

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