HAJI MOHAMED DAWJEE: 3 albums zoomers must listen to before they become T-shirts


The 90s and early 2000s are back in a big way, from fashion faux pas and music to the ridiculous choices we millenials made back when we were the youth, which we often look back on in embarrassment and shame.

Just the other day I was walking around the mall doing some errands when I started to notice a bunch of kids from Gen-Z sporting all kinds of trends from what I can now call “back then”. Baggy pants, Doc Martins, oversized plaid shirts and T-shirts with what I guess can now be called “retro” bands. There was a teen who could not have been more than 14 years of age sporting a Backstreet Boys T-shirt, another friend in the group had her hair tied up in a scrunchie - yes, a scrunchie - and I even walked past the odd person here and there who sported layered clothes paired with ties.

Then, of course, there were the grungies: the people dressed in dark colours with long, loose untidy hair sporting Nirvana T-shirts and the like. Madonna is big again too. In my personal opinion I don’t think she was ever not big, but that’s just me.

The more I looked around, the more I wondered whether these statement pieces were shallow representations of a time past and here again, the epitome of post-modernism, or whether this generation has actually taken a deep dive into the meaning and music of what they’re wearing. For example, one of the biggest bangers of the summer season is a reworked successful song, Cold Heart, by Elton John featuring zoomer favourite Dua Lipa. Do they know the original song? Do they think Elton John is… “new”? Do they know that every time they listen to that song they are engaging with the music of a living legend whose discography far surpasses that of Dua Lipa?

I think that if zoomers are going to continue to go in this direction, they should go all the way. And so I decided to jot down a few iconic artists and their albums that would make for great education. I wonder however, once their listening sessions are over, whether they would still be as keen to wear Backstreet Boys T-shirts. I do get a bit of a tickle inside thinking about it...

This list is in no specific order. And here goes:

Justin Timberlake’s Justified (2002): his was an iconic breakaway and break up album post his fallout with Britney Spears. And while we’re on Britney Spears, let’s move on to the second album…

There are more tweets than I can count that come with the supporting hashtag #FreeBritney, and by the looks of it, they’re not all tweeted by people who grew up with the likes of ... Baby One More Time (1999), and pretended to hated it but actually really loved it. So I would like to invite all zoomers to hit the Britney catalogue for perhaps the first time, and maybe one more time after that. Also, please go one step further and watch her videos on YouTube for some real fashion inspiration (but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the regret you will face down the line and the amount of time you will spend deleting pictures from your Instagram feed).

Aailyah by Aaliyah (2001). Old school R&B is back. So is hip-hop. In fact, the other day while buying groceries I saw something called Hip-Hop chips. Each of the flavours had a different rap icon on them like Notorious BIG or the Wu-Tang Clan, for example. Here’s the thing about the Aaliyah album, though: if you don’t listen to it, you will never understand the need and necessity of strong languorous ballads mixed with R&B beats. You might find it in JLo’s new offerings.

But do you even listen to JLo? If you don't, do so. And then go out and buy yourself a white vest, baggy beige chinos, a pair of Nike Cortez and an almost unattractive looking puffer jacket. You’ll be the coolest zoomer on the backstreets by far.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of 'Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa'. Follow her on Twitter.

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