90’s Flashback – Remember Compact Discs?


I often get asked why I still buy CD’s or why I don’t download music and put it on an MP3 player. The answer is simple. Very similar to my affinity for books, I love the way a CD feels in my hand. From opening the case, reading the booklet, and then putting the CD into the player, it’s the experience between the artist and the listener that I thoroughly enjoy. At the same time, it serves as another outlet for the vocalists to express themselves artistically. It gives the music more depth and the audience a deeper understanding of the meaning behind the music.

In the 90’s, CD’s were culturally embraced and valued by society. Moving into the age of technology, the idea of CDs run foreign and others might even consider them ancient. Keeping in theme with our flashback to the 90’s, I wanted to share a few CD’s from this decade in hopes I can revive what our digital world has failed to uphold.

When we download albums or music today, our eyes are not presented with something aesthetically appealing. In Kris Kross’s 1992 album, ‘Totally Krossed Out’, I love that the audience gets an overall visual experience from the front to the back cover.


Also, I love that artists have used their albums to pay homage to others. To me these types of albums are carrying precious gems of our culture that get lost over time. In 1997, when P. Diddy was known as Puff Daddy, his album ‘No Way Out’ paid respects to one of the greatest rappers of our time, Notorious B.I.G. In the booklet, it includes pictures and a letter Puffy wrote to his best friend.


It reads: Dear BIG, Not a second passes by that you’re not on my mind. I miss you so much. I still can’t believe you’re gone. Life is crazy. I would do anything to turn back the hands of time and bring you back. You were the greatest – you’ll always be the greatest. I know you’re at peace and definitely in a better place but we still miss you terribly. Thank you for always being by my side. You were a gift from God and I thank Him everyday for bringing you into my life. I love you. Rest in Peace. Love Puffy. P.S. See you when I get there.

Gems. A download could not give you that.

Falling in line with great artists, I came upon an album that includes such amazing talent. Between Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Toni Braxton, Faith Evans, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, SWV, TLC, and so many more, the 1995 original soundtrack of ‘Waiting to Exhale’ is a gem in and of itself.



Losing Whitney Houston last year and going through the album today allows her spirit to live on.  Seeing her photos and reading her “Thanks” in the booklet brings about a connection and sparks the mind to hear her still.


She later mentions, “To my Babyface, TLC thinks you belong to them, but we know you’re really mine, I’m so proud of you”.

Little things like these give insight to the artist behind the music. It opens a window into their world and their relationships. It bridges a connection with their audience and makes you feel like you know them on a personal level.

In Brandy’s 1998 album, Never Say Never, she gets very personal in her “Thank You” section. In five pages, Brandy strays away from just saying thanks and actually tells the story of how she arrived at her album. She mentions her acting roles as Moesha and Cinderella and how it led her to the album. Name dropping everywhere; my favorite was her attending Kobe’s prom. Reading everything, I found myself reacting with “Oh, I didn’t know that,” or “Ah, I remember when that happened.” These are the extra side notes we would not get from just downloading and why I love CDs.


And of course, who doesn’t love singing along with their favorite song and actually knowing the lyrics?


In the 90’s, I think others can relate when I say I had posters hanging everywhere in my room. As an added bonus, a lot of CD’s had mini posters within the booklets. Many times, you didn’t know they were there and it was always a pleasant surprise. Of course, in Mariah Carey’s 1999 album ‘Rainbow’, she does not miss the opportunity to grace us with her diva beauty we all know from ‘Honey’ and ‘Butterfly’.



Wrapping up, I’m still convinced that CD’s will always be better than downloading. Judging by the stacks of CD’s I have in my car, my room, and storage, I might consider it borderline hoarding. However, I prefer calling it an eclectic collection of my taste in music or an extensive collection of musical history our technological world will one day erase.


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