There was a time when we used to drive away from school in J’s beat up ol’ Honda (now passed down the generations and in my proud possession) with music blaring out of the speakers (considerably more valuable than the chassis), uniforms in disarray and windows thrown open in order to announce to the world that Fuck you and We were finished school for the day and Eat my shorts. The constant rotation of new music through those afternoons never failed to excite but, despite what we thought was socially acceptable and even potentially cool, we were usually the only vehicle pulling away from campus in such preposterous fashion. Needless to say, the impact of our grand escapes was never quite right. Either we’d leave too early so the other kids didn’t cop the full brunt of the bass or the CD player would get stuck on an interlude track and we’d make our getaway to whimsical, daggy strings and pianos. We could never quite align the big chorus or the drop with the part where the biggest group of impressionable kids would walk past. So we got a siren.
I can’t quite remember whose idea it was in the first instance or how we might have justified it to ourselves at the time but it seemed like a fool-proof plan. Download a siren mp3 from Kazaa and play the thing on loop until we were safely outside the vicinity of the school and could revert to acting like normal human beings again. And it worked to devastating effect. Once we got over the stupidity of attempting to look like an undercover cop car (which I’m not sure I ever quite did), there was nothing better than the siren track, embedded cunningly on every mixtape we made for a year or so, for making a ‘look at me’ statement. We weren’t doing anything nearly as important as saving lives or fighting fires but damn, our doppler-affected noisemaker turned heads.
The same must be said of Dr Dre’s ‘Zoom’. Featuring LL Cool (rather than Snoop Dogg who the instrumental may have once been recorded for), the song is off the ‘Bulworth’ soundtrack (a ’98 Warren Beaty flick I definitely want to see now) and on it, was vying for attention alongside RZA, Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Joints and Jam‘ and Pras Michel’s ‘Ghetto Supastar‘. Thus, along with throwing 2Pac (‘Got My Mind Made Up’), Quincy Jones (needling synths off ‘Ironside‘ theme) and Biggie (‘as we proceed…’ off ‘Who Shot Ya?‘) into the mix, Dre went all out and just dropped some sirens in for the hell of it. The result is something which would have gone down exceedingly well on those afternoon escapes – a hard-hitting track built around the ritual uttering of that Mazda catchphrase and layered to the nth degree with sound effects and crowd calls and typical, aggressive Cool J lyricism. In the same way as ‘California Love‘ with Tupac still sounds fresh today, ‘Zoom’ is thick with production and hyperactive enough, its video post-apocalyptic cool enough to keep the fickle attentions of modern audiences. At 14 years old it, like much of Dre’s repertoire, has aged well. If only we’d had the sense to tap him to soundtrack our afternoon escapades…
Dr Dre – Zoom (Ft. LL Cool J)