8.12.2016

Naughty By Nature's Hip Hop Hooray, A Guilty Pleasure


The Parlor Bar, Laramie, Wyoming
Dance Club, Laramie Style
Studio 360 is a cool variety show that is on KGLT right before my radio show. At the end of last week’s program, right before I went on the air, host Kurt Anderson sent out a call for stories of “guilty pleasures,” the corny things in life we dig, but often keep to ourselves. Everyone has a guilty pleasure, those pieces of music or film or pop culture, clothing or whatever, that we like despite its cheesiness and lack of high regard. For me one of my guilty pleasures is Naughty By Nature's Hip Hop Hooray.

When I was a graduate student at University of Wyoming, I was fortunate to find a large group of friends who loved music as much as I did. We went to see live music any time we could break away from our coursework and research. Whether it was a friend playing at a coffee shop or dive bar in Laramie, a nationally-known band performing in Denver or Red Rocks, or a world-renowned jazz or classical ensemble in concert at UW, we were in the know when it came to musical happenings and we were there.

As I think back to my 20-something self and the friends I hung out with, I realize we were a bit like elitist music snobs in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. We’d talk about music for hours and felt extremely confident we could distinguish good music from bad, as if such a thing could be proven like a scientific theorem. 

Grateful Dead, a friends bluegrass band, Bela Fleck, Winton Marsalis = good. Pop, rap, hip hop = bad.
My guilty pleasure, Hip Hop Hooray


Despite our disdain for pop music, every so often we’d find ourselves at the Parlor Bar. This was a close as you could get to a club in Laramie, Wyoming circa 1993 and it was popular. We’d settle into one of the booths and watch the scene unfold around us. Dolled up girls looking for attention, arrogant guys strutting their stuff, the constant drone of pop music blaring from the speakers, a DJ to pick the tunes and get the crowd excited. Great beer and interesting people watching kept us occupied, but we’d snicker at the bad music people sheepishly danced along to. “Don’t these people know anything about quality,” we pondered. “How can they stand this crap?”

One of the big hit songs at the time was Naughty By Nature’s Hip Hop Hooray.  This was guaranteed to get everyone on their feet, even music snobs like us.

I live and die for hip hop
This is hip hop for today
I give props to hip hop so hip hop hooray...
Hey...ho…hey…ho
And at “Hey…Ho…” we’d wave our arms over head and chant along with the crowd. My friends and I insisted we were doing it to mock the scene. After all, this was not the kind of music we were “in to.”

I never did admit it at the time, but damn was that chant catchy! To this day, Hip Hop Hooray is my guilty pleasure. It’s been over 20 years since I danced along to it at the Parlor Bar, but the tune and the memories that come with it are hard to shake from my mind. I now enjoy and can find value in a wider variety of music than I did when I was younger. A song like Hip Hop Hooray might not make its mark on musical history or ever be considered brilliant music, but I can now admit that I appreciate it for its great energy and mesmerizing beat. If it were played at a wedding or a party today, you bet I’d be the first one on the dance floor, arms waiving over my head chanting “Hey…ho…hey…ho.” 

The Parlor Bar is upstairs from Laramie's famed Buckhorn Bar
The Parlor Bar is upstairs from Laramie's famed Buckhorn Bar