Old school beats for the new school fleet

Lace up your kicks and revel in the sounds of A&E’s back to school playlist.

Emily Eveland



It’s your first day of class and it’s a tough one. In just eight hours, you’ve been glared at, offered illicit drugs and missed the bus. Don’t give up! Listen up:


1. “What You Know” by T.I.

Whether it’s your first day of college or your first day back from summer vacation, we all know what newness entails — being judged! If you’ve fallen victim to a stink eye or a scoff, fear not. Just crank this song and relax. T.I. inadvertently created a new kid anthem with choice lyrics like, “See, all that attitude’s unnecessary, dude.” Really, what do they know about you?

2. “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta” by Geto Boys

We all remember Geto Boys from “Office Space,” where they provided the perfect soundtrack for disillusioned employees retaliating against unfair work conditions. “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta” creates a force field around listeners, enveloping their minds and ears in the sounds of sweet badassery.

3. “Nightcall” by Kavinsky

So maybe you’re not Ryan Gosling and maybe you’re walking around campus, not taking part in a high speed car chase — with “Nightcall,” it doesn’t really matter. The simple lyrics, “I’m gonna tell you something you don’t want to hear,” could apply to the massive workload your professor just threw at you or the subtle rejection you received from your crush. Whatever the case, “Nightcall” will inspire you to keep moving.

4. “Writer’s Block” by Fatlip

Are you the type who stays awake for hours, trying your best to refrain from smashing your head against the keyboard? Fatlip understands. This former member of The Pharcyde defines writer’s block as “…the inability to produce a thought. Ideas get stale, brain cells rot.” Ironically, by writing about his inability to write, Fatlip created one of the most popular songs of his career.

5. “Back Stabbers” by The O’Jays

You’re new and desperate to make a friend. You cling to the first kid who smiles at you and you become inseparable. Before you know it, he’s dropping pickup lines on your crush, comparing her eyes to the few light-polluted constellations above. Before acting on rage-fueled impulse, let old school R&B group the O’Jays soothe you. “Backstabbers” is an empathetic lullaby for those of you with friends who “smile in your face, all the time they want to take your place.”

6. “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” by Grandmaster Flash

Unless you’ve just emerged from a 20-year hibernation, you know that college is part academics, part partying — hard. Beyond beer bongs and high tech vaporizers is the white powder your D.A.R.E. officer rightly warned you against. Grandmaster Flash is here to tell you that “if you get hooked, baby, it’s nobody’s fault, so don’t do it!” If you’re too cool for correction officers, consider taking some wisdom from one of hip-hop’s pioneers.

7. “Better Days” by Citizen King

Taking the leap from your parents’ house to a dorm in a brand new city is no small feat. While some days unfold smoothly, others may result in a pressing urge to take the first bus back home and hide under your childhood blankets. For those who hold down minimum wage jobs, drink cheap wine out of chipped glasses and miss the bus on the daily, Citizen King sings your blues. And who knows? Your bad day could make you a one hit wonder.

8. “Going Away to College” by Blink-182

Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a senior who can’t recover from their pop punk addiction, “Going Away to College” will simultaneously warm and break your heart. The members of Blink-182 know all about being kids in the face of adulthood and aren’t afraid to admit to their fears. With lyrics like, “and I’m so unprepared, so here’s your Valentine,” Blink-182 speaks to the difficulty of leaving loved ones and starting over again. Fun fact: it gets easier.