REWIND: Enjoy five lesser known gems from the ’90s


Redman at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Aug. 26, 2019. Getty Images.

For the last few weeks I’ve written some pretty decent columns. Uncharacteristically good, in fact. Usually I just dig up a bunch of ’90s songs I like or monologue about how awesome Gordon Lightfoot or Creedence Clearwater is. Lately I’ve made an honest effort and the success has shown in readership.

So this week I’m listing a bunch of ’90s songs I like. Hi Redman.

My last true venture out into the Real World was NICAR 2020, a data journalism conference in New Orleans. I wrote a column of New Orleans songs to celebrate. Anyway, at the conference I was exposed to the ‘rona and was put on 14 days of quarantine that continue to this day. This week I virtually attended NICAR 2021, which means it’s been a year of lockdown. That’s a psychological blow.

In response to this depressing milestone, I’ve once again retreated into my pit of musical nostalgia from the ’90s, and in the process have heard a bunch of songs that don’t come up very often for me. Several of them have, in more three years of me doing these REWIND columns, never been included.

So join me, dear reader, on a nostalgia trip of what are apparently somewhat deep cuts.

Biz Markie — “Just a Friend”

Back in 2018 when I did the top five songs of every year I got a lot of hate mail about leaving certain songs out. I was generally just amused by it because taste is subjective and nobody is necessarily right or wrong.

But this? Not including “Just a Friend” in the 1989 edition? Not even in the honorable mentions? That’s an absolute travesty. And I’ve listed 565 songs since then with no year restrictions and it’s not any of those, either! I asked The Google three times in different ways! I checked the back end of our website for a “Biz Markie” tag and none was there!

So I’d like to issue my formal apology to Mr. Markie, my readers, and the world at large for my grievous omission. It’s been resolved and we all here at RIFF (at least me and probably our illustrious editor Roman Gokhman) vow to do better in the future.

[Gokhman note: Was Biz Markie a Marvel Cinematic Universe super-fan? Because This song mentions “Agnes” and “Agatha” back to back. I’ll miss you, Scarlet Witch family!]

Coolio — “1-2-3-4 (Sumpin’ New)”

I got curious and looked up what the British voice is in this song. I’ve always wondered but I never cared enough to check, but today was the day I solved the mystery.

It’s a sample from “Wikka Wrap” by The Evasions, which is a real song. It’s a parody of a British TV journalist named Alan Whicker, who had a show that was also parodied by Monty Python. Most importantly, it’s like six minutes long and it never gets around to developing any sort of point. It’s incredible in its refusal to stop being an intro and becoming a real song. The chorus is a line from around the three-minute mark that’s never repeated elsewhere.

I genuinely have no idea where Coolio might have heard this song to even think to sample it, but if I ever meet him it will be my first question.

[Another Gokhman note: How can this be a deep cut? This song taught me how to count! Whenever I count from 1 to 4, I still quietly sing the next line. Like, really quietly. That line wouldn’t work today].

Pras — “Ghetto Supastar”

This one did get a mention in a prior column, but only that it didn’t make the top five because it’s a glorified cover of “Islands in the Stream” by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. I did not get around to ever actually giving it its due.

Cover or not, it’s a good song! So this one goes out to Pras, the Ringo of the Fugees. You did good, man, and you ripped off a good song. Also, I had a huge crush on Mya back in the day.

[Yet another Gokhman note: Get in line, Willis. Also, this will never stop being my jam].

Redman — “Time 4 Sumaksion”

Odds are I will never play Major League Baseball. I’m old, for one thing, and in terrible shape, and I have no hand-eye coordination, and I’m generally just a mess. Last week I tore a tendon in my thumb opening a jar. I’m not the sporting type. I’ve made peace with that.

That said, let’s say something weird happens. Maybe there’s a “Rookie of the Year” situation, or maybe a Like Mike scenario. Maybe my beloved Oakland Athletics trade away so many players for magic beans to be named later that they have to pick someone from the stands at random to play left field. In that case, I have my walk-up music picked out.

My first choice, obviously, is the opening riff of Alice Cooper’s “Feed My Frankenstein.” Obviously. It’s, scientifically speaking, the best walk-up music other than “Careless Whisper,” but Josh Reddick already took that one. That said, if someone else takes it first, my second choice is Redman’s “Time 4 Sumaksion.”

What, you all don’t think about this stuff?

[Gokhman note: I started to write in “Major League” as a requisite mention, but suddenly realized that the main plot is a misogynistic mess. An entire baseball team turns against a woman leader, prints out full-size cut out of her body and then tears off her clothes, bit by bit. That’s weird, right? I’m glad they get their on-field act together by the end of the season, but that just goes to show that the lady knew what she was doing!]

Blackstreet — “No Diggity”

I’m pretty surprised any of these missed the cut, but I could have sworn I’ve included “No Diggity” at least once. At LEAST once! But our dystopian panopticon Google wouldn’t lie to me and it says there’s no REWIND column with a Blackstreet song except an honorable mention in 1996. Even though there’s a Dr. Dre verse.

Well, it’s a good song and it’s in the column now. Five of my long-standing mistakes are now resolved. You’re welcome, Blackstreet. And until next week: Play on, playa.

[Gokhman note: Don’t].

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and tweet column ideas to him at

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