Song of the Day: Montell Jordan, "This Is How We Do It"
There was a kid who rode the same school bus as me in the spring of 1995. I was closing out the seventh grade, and I'm fairly certain he was a year ahead of me. At some point I must have known his real name, but I cannot for the life of me conjure it at the moment. It's very possible I never knew it, as he was introduced to me as "Cockroach" and I can't ever remember anybody calling him anything but that. It was unclear how he picked up that nickname, though I'm fairly certain my inference that it was a reference to one of Theo Huxtable's best friends was deeply incorrect.
Anyway, Cockroach and I did not have much in common, and I'm fairly certain that we never spoke to one another outside of the 15 minute window on our way to Timothy Edwards Middle School. Still, we bonded over the fact that we both carried portable CD players to school (at the time, this was on the cutting edge of technology—I had recently invested in a device with new-fangled skip protection), and we would often have casual conversations about music. Our tastes did not overlap very much—I was enamored of grunge titans and was a budding indie elitist, while he was a pop guy who worshipped at the altar of post-New Jack Swing R&B (a genre and era I currently fetishize). However, we did have some stuff that we swapped: He was curious about pre-Dookie Green Day (I had recently discovered the greatness of Kerplunk), and we both agreed that Cypress Hill was pretty dope.
I had heard Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" before (its video was in heavy rotation on my after-school MTV binges), but Cockroach had purchased Jordan's album of the same name and let me listen to it (though I can only really recall listening to the title track). I vividly remember the day he arrived on the bus with that album in hand—he was so excited, as his parents had taken him to the record store and let him buy three albums, and it had to have been the most new music he had ever come into at one time. In addition to Jordan's debut, he had also snagged Adina Howard's Do You Wanna Ride? (which featured the hit single "Freak Like Me") and the soundtrack to the about-to-be-released blockbuster Batman Forever (which I liked so much I bought my own copy the next day).
The thing that bothers me about this story is that I have a very specific emotional memory of the songs and the excitement surrounding the music, and yet I cannot remember this kid's real name. I've never been good with names, but it seems like this exchange—which by all accounts was meaningful enough for my brain to file away—should have galvanized this kid's name for me. But no, I simply have the memory of quoting "This Is How We Do It" on the bus in the waning days of the seventh grade. Thanks, Cockroach.