FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
It's time again for our staff song pick of the week.
Right now, we've got NEWS & NOTES producer Devin Robins. Hey, Devin.
DEVIN ROBINS: Hey, Farai.
CHIDEYA: So what do you have for us?
ROBINS: Well, this summer was my high school reunion.
CHIDEYA: When did you graduate?
ROBINS: Well, I'd rather not give that information out. I thought it would be more fun to have you guess. I have a few clues to help you out. Are you ready to play?
ROBINS: All right. George Herbert Walker Bush was president of the United States.
ROBINS: And clue number two, I grew up in Los Angeles, as you know, and right around my senior year in high school, the Rodney King riots erupted. You remember that?
CHIDEYA: Absolutely. And those riots started when four police officers, accused in the videotape of beating a black motorist Rodney King, were acquitted by a predominantly white jury.
ROBINS: Well, I got a third clue here for you, and this one will test your pop culture knowledge.
(Soundbite of song, "Bust A Move")
YOUNG MC (Singer): (Singing) In the city, ladies look pretty. Guys tell joke so they can seem witty. Tell a funny joke to get some play, then you try to make a move and she says no way. Girls are fakin', goodness sakin'. They want a man who brings home the bacon. Got no money and you got no car, then you got no woman and there you are.
CHIDEYA: So, Devin, I love that song.
ROBINS: Me, too. And whenever I hear Young MC, I think of high school.
CHIDEYA: Give me one favorite exciting moment of your time in high school.
ROBINS: Dances. Dances were big. Particularly, I liked to slow dance. And there's one song that I remember. Slow dancing with my high school boyfriend, Joel(ph).
(Soundbite of song, "Visions of Love")
Ms. MARIAH CAREY (Singer): (Singing) Treated me kind. Sweet destiny. Carried me through desperation to the one that was waiting for me. It took so long, still I believed…
ROBINS: Mariah Carey was just coming on the scene. And that year, she won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her single, "Vision of Love." And, you know, Farai, I've got one more song that just screams high school.
(Soundbite of song, "Poison")
Mr. RICKY BELL (Band Member, Bel Biv Devoe): (Singing) Girl, I must…
BEL BIV DEVOE (Singing Group): (Singing) Warn you.
Mr. BELL: (Singing) I sense something strange in my mind. Yeah, yo. Situation is…
BEL BIV DEVOE (Singing Group): (Singing) Serious.
Mr. BELL: (Singing) Let's cure it 'cause we're running out of time. Tell 'em Rick.
CHIDEYA: Oh, my gosh. I think I remember some really strange pants from this era, you know, like, those bizarre pants. Who is this and why do you like him?
ROBINS: Well, not only did Bel Biv Devoe wore some strange pants but they also had some really tall hair. Now, Bel Biv Devoe, this song "Poison" was also big when I was in high school. And for me, where I grew up, this sound was fresh and new. I didn't have a lot of exposure to rap artists like Young MC that we heard earlier or to R&B artists like Bel Biv Devoe. And I think it opened up a new musical genre for me. And when I hear these songs, I think back to the fond memories I had of high school.
CHIDEYA: Well, Devin, thanks for sharing this with us, and it put me in a time capsule, too.
ROBINS: So do you know what year?
ROBINS: Close. But I can't tell.
(Soundbite of laughter)
CHIDEYA: Love that. That was NEWS & NOTES producer Devin Robins with three of her favorite songs from high school - "Bust A Move" by Young MC, "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey, and "Poison" by Bel Biv Devoe.
(Soundbite of song, "Poison")
Mr. BELL: (Singing) 'Cause in some…
BEL BIV DEVOE: (Singing) Portions.
Mr. BELL: (Singing) You'll think she's the best thing in the world. She's so…
BEL BIV DEVOE: (Singing) Fly.
Mr. BELL: (Singing) She'll drive you right out of your mind. Steal your heart when you're blind. Beware she's schemin'. She'll make you think you're dreamin'. You'll fall in love and you'll be screamin' demon.
Mr. RONNIE DEVOE (Band Member, Bel Biv Devoe): (Rapping) Poison, deadly, moving it slow. Looking for a mellow fellow like DeVoe. Getting paid, laid, so better lay low. Schemin on house, money, and the show. The low pro hoe should be cut like an Afro. So what you're sayin', huh, she's weighin' you? But I know she's a loser.
Mr. BELL: (Rapping) How do you know?
Mr. DEVOE: (Rapping) Me and the crew used to do her.
CHIDEYA: …for sharing your time with us. To listen to the show and your wonderful music like this or subscribe to our podcast, visit our Web site: nprnewsandnotes.org. No spaces, just nprnewsandnotes.org. To join the conversation or sign up for our newsletter, visit our blog at nprnewsandviews.org.
NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African American Public Radio consortium.
Tomorrow, the economics of publishing black writers.
Kool G.: (Rapping) Poison, poison. Poison, poison. Poison, poison. Poison.
CHIDEYA: I'm Farai Chideya. This is NEWS & NOTES.