Musings in the Dark: Memories of an O'Head: 1984


Memories of an O'Head: 1984

This one is for the old heads like myself, who came of age in the '80s & the early '90s.  Holla if ya hear me!

Uhhh, you be the judge. 
A few weeks ago, Unsung aired an episode featuring Full Force.  As an '80s baby, it was an absolute delight to take a trip down memory lane with Paul Anthony, Bow-Legged Lou, B-Fine and ‘nem.  The episode was great, as it highlighted aspects of Full Force’s producing talents.  I’d forgotten how many acts they produced. One such group is UTFO (UnTouchable Force Organization).  If you’ve never heard of them, then you’re probably not an o’head like me.  They were a rap group who came out with the megahit “Roxanne, Roxanne,” penned by B-Fine.  From the moment I heard that joint, I was in love.  It’s such a fun song.  Three guys, Kangol, Doc, & EMD, were competing with each other for the hand (read: sex) of Roxanne, a beautiful around-the-way girl.  Watching the two-minute clip of UTFO unleashed a flood of memories.  It was a visceral, intense punch in the face and I jumped out of my seat and threw my hands up with a “HEEYYY!!!!  THAT’S MY JAAAAYYYUUUUMMMM!!!!!”  My brother, who was upstairs on the computer, came to the top of the stairs and did the same thing.  For a moment, we were kids again.

 “I guess that’s what I get for thinkin’/Ain’t that right, black?”

“So when I met her/I wasted no time/But stuck up Roxanne paid me no mind”

“That’s what we planned/But she stood me up/Roxanne, Roxanne”

From that, I was overwhelmed with memories of 1984.  This was back when MTV actually played music, and competed with VH1 for video supremacy.  McDonalds was considered a treat for good behavior.  I watched “Dynasty,” “Dallas,” “The Cosby Show,” & “Family Ties,” along with other classics.  I sported a jheri-curl, Jordache jeans, Keds (affectionally called “white girl” shoes) a Members Only jacket, multiple pairs of socks, and round coke-bottle glasses.  Yellow was my favorite color, but I had a red Swatch watch and rocked gummy bracelets and twister beads.  My whip was a blue ten-speed, and I could double-dutch, hopscotch, and hoola-hoop like a champ.  The “big” gift for Christmas that year was a Crayola Caddy.  I was at the outer edges of my tomboyishness; breasts were starting to sprout and cause problems.  I was a skinny, goofy-looking awkward pre-teen with spectacles and no rhythm, likely busting the hell out of 98 pounds, but a PYT nonetheless.  And Roxanne, as portrayed, was a goddess.  I wanted to be her.  The fact that she didn’t swoon over the guys in the group made it even better.  She was a boss chick.

1984 Royalty
“Roxanne, Roxanne” played all the time, everywhere.  Classmates performed it at the talent show.  The video ran damn near 24/7.  It spawned at least 15 get-back tracks and changed the landscape of rap as we knew it then.  It was the first rap I knew all the words to, and my mother bought me the cassette tape (yeah, I said “tape;" I still have that bad boy) and I wore that damn thing out listening to it every day and night.  This was back when you could listen to an album and not have to skip tracks, and every rap album had a slow cut and a song that paid homage to the DJ.  The songs were fun and didn’t need to be edited for radio play.  There was no profanity or disrespect, and I don’t recall my mother telling me not to listen to UTFO or calling their music garbage.  Every last member of UTFO could rap.  They were skilled lyricists, and as a word-nerd, I recognized the layer and depth of their delivery and loved it.  There was an intelligence and a cleverness to their songs that is lacking in today’s dreary music landscape. This can be generalized to rap and hip-hop as a whole; I’m not an o’head for nothing.  Music used to be real, but now it’s on life support.
Let's judge this with eyes from 1984, shall we?
Anyway, I fell in love with Kangol, Doc, EMD & MixMaster Ice.  Well, not exactly.  Like any group—then or now—you become fixated on one or two members.  Each man had an identity: Kangol was a “soldier of love;” he wore a red leather suit, majorette boots, and of course, a Kangol.  In ’84, he was fly as hell.  I repeat, in 1984.  Doctor Ice was a “physician” and wore white scrubs with red suede Pumas.  EMD, or the Educated Rapper, was a “nerd” and wore a suit, and MixMaster Ice, the DJ, was a “ninja.”  This was an appropriate persona, since Ice could cut the fuck out of a record.  I grew up loving rap, so I appreciate the art of a clean scratch, and Ice is a freaking legend.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look:

Cotona Park, NY; circa 2007.  Ladies and gentlemen, that is what you call skills.

My friends at the time swooned over Kangol & Doc, but I was in love with Ice and would have straight up married him if he asked me.  He wasn’t the front man and he wasn’t flashy like Doc or Kangol, but he was smokin’ hot in that ninja gear, and he has great eyes and beautiful hands.  There are a couple of videos on YouTube , as well as the album cover, showing my man in full ninja regalia AND new-wave frames.  Can you say "pimp?"  MixMaster Ice could have gotten every inch of my pre-teen ass, and while that may sound perverted, it was the truth.  Quiet as it’s kept; he could get every inch of it right now.  I believe that Roxanne didn’t want the other guys because she was smitten with Ice, and rightfully so.  But I digress.

1984 was a potent year in terms of my imagination.  It was unwieldy to begin with, but shot into the upper layers of the stratosphere.  Music is highly influential, and my serious teenage crush on MixMaster Ice, coupled with my love for magnificent Michael, fired me to the point where I wore out my first typewriter and put a serious dent in the second one.  This includes the massive amounts of stuff I wrote by hand.  Michael was a much bigger star than Ice, and therefore, more unattainable.  Based on the skewed logic I’m sure I possessed at that time, that was the reason MixMaster Ice—and not Michael—became the template for a lot of the men in my stories.  He still is to an extent.  Disclaimer: I regretfully admit that I do not know this man (though I do follow him on FB and Twitter), so the behavior of said male characters do not necessarily mimic his.  Considering how everything turned out, I’m certain I made a better choice in terms of my male model.  You can’t mistake The Master for anything other than a man, trust and believe.  

Anyway, I can’t even tell you what all of I wrote back then featuring him and it doesn’t matter; it’s all upstairs in my file cabinet, brown and worn from age.  I’ve never gone back and looked at any of it; there was an innocence to my scribbling, a complete disregard of logic and common sense—pulled from a spot where I couldn’t get to now even if I wanted to.  That time has passed and it has its place…1984.  But man, did I enjoy the trip!  Thanks, Unsung!!


  1. In 1984, I was a chubby snaggled toothed little thing. I loved to inhale banana Now Laters and Little Debbie Fudge Rounds. I loved Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Full Force, Culture Club, MC Lyte,and countless others. You don't want me to get into the 90's, we'll be here all day.

  2. I am positive I'll take a trip back to the 90s, jean-bee. I see you on the Now & Laters; red ones were my fave.


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