A look through old journal entries took me back to Triumphs & Tribulations II, on this very day in 2002. Not much happened on that Wednesday in early autumn…except I was introduced to one of my favorite all-time music tracks and music videos. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: The Roots’ “Break You Off” music video.
How I first came across this moment? I came across the video while doing homework and watching music videos on MTV in the late hours. I remember seeing it open with Hassan Johnson—who was familiar to me from In Too Deep—blasting through a wall with his fist.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, I saw it as brand new music. I hadn’t heard anything from The Roots since “You Got Me” 3 years earlier. The beat was intoxicating. That whole play with Black Thought macking on Lanisha Cole reminded me of 2 distinct moments in my early days of love as a teenager. The way they were vibing was reminiscent of me and Valorie Drew only 2 months earlier when she popped up in my world on a Saturday morning at Domino’s Pizza. I remember her nodding her head, listing to my mack back when I was dropping words on her and ended up getting that phone number. The other part of it was how Lanisha’s character was essentially supposed to be off-limits as she was somebody else’s girl. About 1 ½ years earlier, when I first transferred to Huffman High from Parker High, an extremely beautiful young lady caught my eyes on Day 1. And unlike the whole thing with the former Miss Watson at Parker, in which I did 2 months of thorough reconnaissance which was ultimately wasted when she won Miss Sophomore, I did no such thing with this particular woman. I just went for it. Had I did the recon, I would’ve discovered that she had a boyfriend…something I eventually discovered when he stepped to me a few days later with a “yo man, I know you’re new here and all but that’s my girl”. Seeing that video and how it played out over those 4 minutes or reminded me of that.
What it means to me now? I just took a peek at the video in getting the embed code for this post. The benefit of being 18 years older allowed me to see that video much differently than I did as a 17-year-old. First off, Black Thought’s character totally disregarded all of the rules as they concern jumpoffs. The 1st rule being always take the home bed advantage if you don’t go neutral site at a hotel. The 2nd rule was he tuned out the immediate red flag that he could possibly be walking into a dangerous situation: the pictures on the wall with her and the Hassan Johnson character kissing and being boo’d up. I mean, he even gave the “what the f***” look. There was also the missed sign he got from Musiq Soulchild’s character. Considering he was the neighbor of the Lanisha Cole character, he would likely know if that was a safe situation for him to walking into. If it was safe, he would’ve dropped the brother’s nod. But he didn’t. He hit him with that “oh s***” look and combined with the pictures he saw on the wall almost immediately afterward, he should’ve dashed out. The fatal flaw was the fact that he essentially trapped himself in the room when the Hassan Johnson character walked in on them. Instead of possibly rushing through him to get out and leaving the couple to deal with the damage, he backed back towards the window…the equivalent of a coffin corner. So when Johnson’s character went for the gun, it was over. It’s crazy how much differently I see it now. Even more crazy that this type of situation still happens…even in 2020, a whole damn near 20 years after the video first dropped.