This week on The Watch, Andy and I hit the rewind button, revisiting the music of our youth with a little help from our friends. We went back 20 years — when he and I met — to the music of 1996, and talked about what it meant to us then and what it means to us now.
It was a forward-looking, exploratory year for music. Albums from artists like Beck, Tricky, and DJ Shadow were like two-way radios, with new sounds coming in and going out. They blended country, reggae, metal, funk, psychedelia, rock, and, of course, hip-hop to make the future sound immediate.
Perhaps no record from 1996 better represented that generous pastiche than DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing. The New Yorker’s Hua Hsu called in to the show talk to about the legacy of that loop-digger masterpiece.
It was also a huge year for rap music, and one of the chief architects of its sound at the time was Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, who called in to talk about Ghostface Killah’s Ironman album and the energy around Wu-Tang during their historic mid-’90s run.
Chris and Andy’s Top Five 1996 Albums
- Afghan Whigs, Black Love
- Ghostface Killah, Ironman
- The Spinanes, Strand
- Nas, It Was Written
- DJ Shadow, Endtroducing
- Belle & Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
- Guided by Voices, Under the Bushes Under the Stars
- Various artists, Headz II
- Spoon, Telephono
- Suede, Coming Up
This piece originally appeared in the March 25, 2016, edition of the Ringer newsletter.