I spent the summer of ’98 before my freshman year of high school far from my Arizona hometown. Instead of lazy, hot pool days with friends, I was in the Baltimore suburbs listening to “Ghetto Supastar”.
My grandma, who I was very close to, had died the previous November and I was tasked with helping my parents clean out her Baltimore brick row house so they could sell it.
It was a challenge to stay entertained and patient given the situation, but I was pretty resourceful.
I had a radio and “Ghetto Superstar” was basically on repeat every hour on the Top 40 station. I totally remember loving Mya’s sweet voice paired with ODB’s gritty interjections.
I’d listen to that jam in between discovering treasures like a Goonie in Grandma’s basement.
I found boxes filled with love letters from a pre-grandpa paramour. An album filled with autographs from silent and Golden-film era stars: Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Rudolph Valentino. An American flag with fewer than 50 stars. Diamond, amethyst & turquoise jewelry alongside funky costume jewelry. Fox furs. Countless black-and-white snapshots of Grandma as a young, vibrant flapper.
When I wasn’t digging through the basement, I was “walking the dog”, which meant I was walking by the home of the only cute teenage boy in the neighborhood radius, and I happened to have the dog with me.
In the evenings, Dad and I would take Grandma’s 80-something Oldsmobile to a nearby fish market. I’d listen to “Ghetto Supastar” while Dad silently suffered along.
We’d buy soft-shelled crabs every time, which were a novel and delicious concept to me. We’d put them on toasted bread with tomato and mayo.
I may have felt grounded in memories past, but that song brought a refreshing balance to my teen summer.