What does it take to really know a record? To overcome feeling alienated by a challenging album, it sometimes takes abandoning preconceived ideas of expertise and looking for something more personal.
Santigold's debut album captures the New York dream of being a singular sensation above the masses. It inspired writer Dawnie Walton when she first moved there — and again when she needed a new start.
After Chapman released her 1988 debut, she was everywhere in pop and always on the mind of writer Francesca T. Royster. Hearing that album, she writes, "helped me say what I hadn't yet said out loud."
As a kid, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd adored Salt-N-Pepa's music and moves. In revisiting the trio's third album, she realized it also taught her what confidence and collectivity look like in action.
The ambitious rapper's debut album starts with an acid trip and ends with a paean to a rap pantheon. In between, says writer Christina Lee, it offers crucial lessons about playing by your own rules.
The theory of nigrescence describes the process of developing a Black identity. Namwali Serpell says it's like falling in love — and for her, it began when she first heard Lauryn Hill's 1998 album.
As a kid discovering music, you assemble a hodgepodge of other people's opinions. But there's a lot of joy to be found when the urge to agree with the critics melts away, writes critic Laura Snapes.
The Go-Go's proved that pop and punk could mingle to land at the top of the charts. "You can take the girl out of punk, but you can't take punk out of the girl," says Charlotte Caffey, lead guitarist.