As my chronological journey through American popular music has taken me through 1997, the year I graduated from high school, I have stirred up many memories of my first semester at Rice University.
This was the year that Puff Daddy (Sean “Puffy” Combs, etc.) came up with the formula of old pop hit + increased base line + spoken/rapped lyrics == contemporary hit. Master P also entered the scene that year. On the Rice football team, we had a Master P of our own; that was the nickname of Michael Perry, halfback. Master P was one of our three thousand-yard rushers that season, along with Chad Nelson, quarterback, and Benji Wood, who started ahead of me at fullback.
It was a heck of a first semester. Football was awesome. I will never forget running out of the tunnel to the thunderous applause of 55,000 fans at our season opener against Air Force. Or our first away game against Tulane at the Superdome in New Orleans. Or barely losing to the University of Texas and Heisman winner Ricky Williams. John Heisman, for whom the trophy is named, actually used to coach at Rice.
The semester was about more than football, of course. It was also about romance, roadtrips (San Antonio, Dallas, and New Orleans), making lifelong friends, hard courses, and no sleep. Although it wasn’t really about partying for me, I could still hear the songs of 1997 through the walls while I was trying to study or sleep and the memories they incite are great ones.