Before I went to Ghana for my study abroad, I told anyone in earshot that I was going to come back with an African queen. Like literally I would find Ghanaian royalty, get her to marry me and come back to Davidson with me. It was a full-proof plan.
Then I went to Africa, got into a relationship with a White girl from Minnesota in my program and dated her when I got back to the states in the summer. You can laugh. My friends still bring it up and make fun of me.
Still. Whatever. Shut up. Anyway, when we got back, I decided I’d much rather go hang out in Minneapolis than spend the summer in Jackson, MS. So I had to find a place (Nope. David D. isn’t one to shack up before marriage. No thanks.) and a job.
The job was as a sandwich delivery boy for a popular chain the area*. It was a horrible, horrible idea. Just imagine a 20 year old kid in 2006 – back when GPS devices were reserved for the 1% and the Illuminati – having to figure out how to get around in South Minneapolis to get weirdos their cold turkey subs. I was the worst delivery boy of all time.
My only salvation** was the fact I could spend 10 hours a day in my car listening to music. The two big projects from that summer most people listened to were Lil Wayne’s Dedication 2 and Joe Budden’s Mood Muzik 2. But there was also one more tape I jammed the entire summer thanks to the dearly departed Loosies section of TSS: Southern Smoke 26.
The Southern Smoke series made me the man I am today. They had every Southern banger – and a few that were left on the cutting room floor – before they hit mainstream and made me look like the coolest kid around because I was listening to the heat first.
But Southern Smoke 26 was the one tape that defined an entire summer. The tape dropped during one of the golden eras of Southern rap: Wayne was staking his claim as best rapper in the world, T.I. was on fire, Ludacris was relevant and MOTHERF*CKING YOUNG DRO!
When I went back and listened to SS 26 recently, I didn’t quite enjoy it. But it wasn’t made to listen to on a laptop. The mixtape was for summer days, windows down and perfect weather. From the “What You Know” remix, the “Gangsta Gangsta” track from Lil Scrappy, and Three 6’s “Side To Side” the mixtape banged from beginning to end. The standout, though, was Lil Yola’s “I Ain’t Gon’ Let Up.” Yola had one with this track and I can’t tell you how many times I yelled out “I. Just. Don’t. Give. A. F*ck” out my window to the delight of people jogging around the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
I can’t continue without acknowledging the song that was criminally overlooked. It’s a genre-defining experience that should have sculpted my generation into the world-changing soldiers we can all potentially be.
Ladies and gentlemen: Venny Outrageous’ “Ass Cheeks On My White Tee.”
* — They only deliver cold sandwiches. Like, they have an oven for the bread but they don’t warm the sandwiches themselves. I never quite got the appeal of ordering a cold ass sandwich to be delivered to your house. Seriously, just grab the turkey and bread from your fridge you lazy bum. To be fair, though, I mostly delivered to lonely people and stoners.
** — The other salvation was that I spent time delivering sandwiches in Edina, Minnesota. Why is this important? It’s Ric Flair’s ACTUAL home town. So I was able to walk around his old city and imagine I was him growing up. I mean, if that was something I wanted to do, I could have. But I didn’t. Because, oh shut up again. I also got to see him wrestle there for a WWE taping which was awesome.
*** — Minneapolis was fantastic in the summer. Perfect weather. Parks. Good food. My girlfriend and I had bad schedules so I actually spent most of the time on my own and it was one of my favorite summer’s ever. But one of my most embarrassing moments ever happened there: I was walking out of the sandwich shop in full sandwich delivery regalia and turned when a car full of White girls yelled out “Hey, David!” Now, I’d been introduced to a lot of White girls that summer so I was losing track of who I knew and didn’t. I turned around, said “hey!” and waved.
They all stopped, turned stone-faced, ducked back into their cars, rolled their windows up and laughed hysterically. I looked to my right and saw some guy who had also just finished saying hi to the women. He was the guy they were talking to. The entire block was laughing at me as the girls drove off. Okay, maybe not. But it felt like it. I ran back in the restaurant and let my sobs get muffled by the sound of refilling to-go Mountain Dew cups.