According to Triumphs & Tribulations III, the evening of January 14, 2003, was quite lively. As was the custom after Rani Chapman essentially segregated the whole of the Downtown Birmingham location of Domino’s Pizza with her shenanigans, I was off since it was a Tuesday evening in which her kid was the shift manager. Instead of kicking in the Linn-Henley Research Library until 8pm, I decided to hang out with my then-lead lady and some of her classmates at Blount Hall on the campus of UAB. They had the music going…a reggae mix, to be exact. They had some old Buju Banton and Bob Marley in there. Of course, they had Dawn Penn’s “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)”—my all-time favorite reggae and dancehall track—and I danced to it. A lot of the music wasn’t unfamiliar to me as I heard a lot of it in passing through the years in the lead-up to that night in 2003. But it was a track that I heard for the first time that stole the show. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: Sean Paul’s “Top of the Game”.
How I first came across this moment? As I just noted, it was during that party in Valorie Drew’s dorm. The track started with some beatboxing that led into the beat with the Rahzel rap.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, the beat was definitely catchy. It was also one that was good for dancing. My body just kinda had a reflex and started moving to the beat. At the same time, I was hearing these wicked lyrics by Rahzel like “You’ll be assed out/Passed out like Mitch Green…I’m a SWAT team/Spittin’ a hot 16”. The Jamaican dialect really got to me. I downloaded it to my Windows Media Player library later that night via LimeWire when I got home.
What it means to me now? Today, it still lives in my Windows Media Player library. It’s my true #2 reggae song behind Dawn Penn’s smash hit. Every time I hear it, I still get to moving like I did some 19 years ago at a midweek dorm party on the Southside of Birmingham. I don’t listen to it as often I did later into 2003 and 2004 but it still has value to me.