I got it on my 9th birthday- A K-Mart, no name 35 dollar boombox. I was so happy. It was Saturday and at 8pm, WJLB was going to start playing all my favorite hip-hop jams. I had my Maxwell blank tape set to record and pause simultaneously: ready to record all my favs of the radio. With any luck I could catch Run DMC’s King of Rock, You Talk To Much and maybe some stuff from Whodini or the Fat Boys. Other days I took my little allowance money and hiked down to Detroit Audio and bought whatever newest hip-hop take had been released.
That was 1985. When the boombox still mattered in urban music mobile electronics. The boombox was actually the first way you could take your music with you! There was this one dude on my block that used to walk down the street carrying a big ole’ Sharp boombox. His Jheri Curl would be dripping under the son and he always sported some random tank top. He never spoke but always nodded. I thought dude was cool as hell. That enhanced my infatuation for the boombox. And it wasn’t just me. A boombox could be found at any small party at school, talent shows, or dance classes. This was Detroit not New York so I can’t profess to have seen cats break dancing or cardboard or getting in to rap battles with their boomboxes. But nonetheless – they were all over Detroit and we knew what to do with them.
I would get 2 more boomboxes; a Magnavox and a Fisher. But 1994, I was 18 with my own car and taking my music with me meant something totally different. It meant getting ”sounds.”
My first car was an Eagle Medallion. I think my grandfather paid less than 2 grand for the car but I might have spent half that in the sound system. It was okay, but not great. Then in 1996 I bought my 1992 Chevy Cavalier. I loaded that boy with 2 Cerwin Vega 10s in the back, Kenwood inside speakers, 2 Majestic Amps, and a Kenwood face-off radio. I had hundreds of tapes. I had CD’s too but back then you had to have a CD Walkman with the cigarette CD adapter that was more of a nuisance than a asset so I stuck to mostly tapes. Master Ace’s Born to Roll was my song of choice. Nothing made the Cerwin Vega’s in my trunk hum in deep baritone then that song. I could ride around for hours, seat leaned back into last year, sun roof poped open, with absolutely no place to go. Lol
Fast-forward to 2014 and I have a IPhone/IPod like everybody else. Its convenient, plug it in the car, the computer, headphones etc.. No more dubbing tapes, taping songs off the radio, or burning CDs. But I’m not excited anymore about the music or the machines. My boomboxes and my sounds excited me. They put music at the forefront of my life, made me always want it around, made me lust after it. I started and ended my days with my boombox. I never wanted to leave the pounding of my sounds. That was love. Now; music is in the background. It’s not needed but more tolerated and taken for granted. It’s very accessible and doesn’t seem as good. It’s downloaded, plays when someone calls, and can be pulled up on a computer screen in 15 seconds. No more analyazing the credits or CD and Tape sleeves. NO more buying whole albums. There is just the purchse and download of current singles which are forgetten on harddrives and phones in the weeks to come.