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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

This is how we do it

Finals are on our heels, chasing us into misery. I am stressed, you are stressed. We are practically biting each other’s heads off because of all this stress. So let’s face it: we all need a little bit of TLC – both the physical kind and the musical kind.

Stress is building in my shoulders, turning my muscle to stone, but all my friends are too busy to give me a full-blown massage for tension relief. My heartbeat won’t seem to slow down on its own, so I thought maybe some mid-tempo, mid-90s slow jams would do the trick.

I am a kid of the ’90s, as are most of you, fond readers. We are bound by puffy shoe laces in Adidas Superstar Shelltoes, Tommy Hilfiger overalls and oversized t-shirts hiding stick legs under leggings with scrunchy socks and Timberland boots. We all once had an infatuation with Sports Illustrated for Kids trading cards and pro basketball shoes (Grant Hill was my man).

And what accompanied these impeccable, decade-specific fashions were the soulful varieties of R&B. There were anthems for prepping to go to junior high dances, my friends and I got our glitter eye shadow, tight t-shirts and baggy khakis on (remember the Limp Bizkit girls?). These were like Cam’Ron’s Horse and Carriage or even Destiny’s Child Say My Name, though I am slightly hesitant to admit that one.

But what’s best for right now, to kick the low spirits of finals anxiety, are what we like to call slow jams. Namely, the smooth ballads of Boyz II Men really hit the spot. Taking a break from writing a paper never felt better than when I recreated the scene from the I’ll Make Love to You video, candles, silk lounging robe and all. I made my roommate wear all white, suspenders and a backwards newsboy hat. In unison we belted, Girl relax, let’s go slow, I ain’t got nowhere to go.

In hindsight, I realize that these tunes work best for more passionate activities, such as writing love letters or baby-making, and might induce depression or loneliness in the less romantically active. But before you get emo about it, think from a fresh perspective. Forget the lyrics, put away your study guide, lean back in your chair with your eyes closed and absorb that slow tempo that is oh-so-soothing. There are other reasons rap stations play slow jams at night other than for couples – it’s to get some nice relaxing in as you fall asleep, or in this case, try to momentarily erase the thought of scantrons from your mind.

So all I am trying to say, in way too many words, is that in the midst of all this end-of-the quarter insanity a survey of ’90s R&B can help ease the pain. And as Usher would say about fretting about your pre-final papers and memorization tasks, just take it nice and slow.

Since we don’t get WILD 94.9 FM up in Yolo County, below I have provided a list to get things started for y’all. Enjoy and I wish you all a successful venture into spring break!


The Fugees, Killing Me Softly

Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen, No Diggity

Puff Daddy featuring 112 and Faith Evans, I’ll Be Missing You

The Pharcyde, Passin’ Me By

Aaliyah featuring Timbaland, Are You That Somebody?

Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, One Sweet Day

Bone Thugs n Harmony, Crossroads

Lucy Pearl featuring Snoop Dog, You

TLC, Diggin’ On You

Mary J. Blige, Not Gon’ Cry

R. Kelly, Down Low

Brandy, I Wanna Be Down


NICOLE L. BROWNER has already tried to woo her boss with the Run DMC remix of Jagged Edge’s Let’s Get Married, and failed miserably. Send her your golden memories of ’90s R&B via YouTube links at nlbrowner@ucdavis.edu.


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