My sexual coming-of-age took place in the 90s, the decade in which I spent the entirety of my teenage years. It was a time when blatantly sexual R&B/slow jams were really coming into their prime, and thus made up a large portion of what whet my aural appetite. It was also a time when I wore high heeled jelly sandals, miniskirts, low cut tops, and carried a box purse. But, we don’t need to explore my teenage hoochieness right now. Let’s just say I took the outfits in “Freak Like Me” way too personally.

So the other night I was tipsy on kombucha (because I’m an incredible lightweight) and my vagina was feeling a kind of way like it does when I ingest any amount of alcohol. I started messing around on Twitter, like I do pretty much every night (I’m @misstashafierce, FYI), and since I was already talking about the state of my vagina and how nothing was entering it that night, I decided to focus my frustrated sexual energies on going to YouTube and finding all the old 90s sex jams that I remembered being embarrassingly titillated by as a teen. After tweeting select freaky lyrics as I went through each video, I realized I really just needed to take y’all back in the day and share my favorites with you. Let’s break it down.

Freak MeSilk (1992)

I was 12 when this came out, so my scandalization apparently started pre-teen. But let’s be real, I was thinking about this shit for a while prior to that. I mean, I think I was like, 10 when I found my mom’s Playgirl mag under her bed, which was simultaneously exciting and horrifying. I don’t think I ever saw this video at the time, but what really stands out for me now that I’m watching this, other than their horrible hair, is how super intense this dude in the striped shirt is about freaking me tonight. It looks like it’s causing him real physical pain. I’m thinking maybe he should wear something other than a mock turtleneck because it might be making it hard for him to sing.

Knockin’ Da BootsH-Town (1993)

“New video by HAYCH-Town”. Damn British people.

First off, if we’re about to have sex and the dude gets undressed but seriously leaves on his boots, he’s lost already. So I hope Luc is joking about two boots coming together. Cross Colours is featured heavily in this video, or what looks like Cross Colours. I won’t front, I wore CXC back then, but since I don’t now, I can still shade from the future. And where are these guys singing from? A half torn down shanty next to an abandoned baseball field? Also, not digging on getting videotaped in a closet by dude who looks like Kid while being on a date/having sex with every other member of H-Town. Do they always date as a team? At some point he looks like he’s wiping a baseball bat off with a towel and I really don’t want to know where that’s been. And now every time I see that boot hanging I think of that Justin Timberlake/Andy Samberg video “3-Way (The Golden Rule)“.

Touch ItMonifah (1998)

I picked this video rather than the official video because the official didn’t have all the dirty words and these dirty words are VERY IMPORTANT. Plus I like her hair and outfit better in this one. And really, the video doesn’t matter–it’s the WORDS.

The important parts are when she says “I’ma show your body what your tongue is doing wrong”, and “This motion has got me wet like crazy/I want you more and more when you call my name and spank me”. In the actual song she also says “do you really wanna touch it/do you really want to FUCK with me tonight” which is also important but I couldn’t find that in any of the videos on YouTube. To understand why I spend 30 minutes trying to find the dirty version of this, let’s put this in the context of my sexual development. This song came out right as I started actually having sex. 2 years prior to this I had been introduced to my mentor, Lil’ Kim, and been taught the ways of the demanding of cunnilingus, which I implemented as soon as I began giving it up. That then led me to discover the joys of being “wet like crazy” while someone “calls my name and spanks me”. Basically. So since that message was heavily reinforced here, this song was on repeat for quite some time.

Freak Like MeAdina Howard (1994)

Pretty much everyone I know loves this song. It’s got Adina in PVC tap shorts rolling around on what are probably supposed to be yellow satin sheets but what looks vaguely like a tarp, chicks droppin’ it like it’s hot in satin bathing suits with knee pads on, a few girls with those SWV fingernails, and the obligatory house party scene. There really ain’t no party like a West Coast party and that’s basically what would happen, down to doing the reverse cowgirl on top of a dude in a large drinking fountain. Or maybe that last part was just me, that one time.

Doin’ ItLL Cool J (1996)

Now, I had already wanted LL to help me with my vagina before this song, but when I heard these lyrics it turned into a primal need. The video cracks me up, though. Let me try to briefly recap my amusement for you:

0:08 Are you seriously at a party talking dirty to your girl in a huge crowd?
0:35 She’s getting out of her car, on the phone, and he’s muttering to himself.
0:36 Lip licking, always.
0:57 So the girl is laying in front of him, how is he still talking to her on the phone?
0:60 I can get with “I need a roughneck nigga mandingo in the sack who ain’t afraid to pull my hair and spank me from the back” though.
1:40 I really don’t think they let food into those peep show booths. And having been in one, I don’t think it’s sanitary at-fucking-all to eat in there. In fact, I KNOW it’s not.
2:57 I am not rubbing up on a dude who would rather finish his Frostee than fuck with me.

I guess, LL. I’d still hit it, though.

Too CloseNext (1997)

When this came out I was 17, and believe it or not, it took me a while to realize EXACTLY what they were talking about. When I finally did, I spontaneously shouted “THIS IS ABOUT BONERS!” to the embarrassment of friends and bystanders.

After that I just marvelled at how sneaky they were. “Making it HARD for me! How clever! I feel a little poke comin’ through! This is genius!” I hear it now and I’m like, this was pretty thinly veiled and it’s kind of sad that despite how sex-focused I was I didn’t get it immediately.

Red Light Special TLC (1994)

I love this video. Even all these years later it’s actually not corny, unlike most of the rest, so I’ll use this to bring us home.

Let me just say Left Eye is fucking adorable in this, while simultaneously being badass, as she did so well. I love the lyrics, like I could just sing this to a dude and it would pretty much sum up what we were about to do. “I’ll let you go further if you take the southern route”, “I like ’em attentive and I like ’em in control”… Except I don’t sing shit to dudes, so maybe I’d recite it or something. The one thing that annoys me is the guitar playing white dude with the hair. I’m trying to be in a sexy mood and his whole butt rocker gig there is ruining it.

I just wish more clothes had come off before Left Eye threw the damn table over.

That’s enough for now, I need to go change unders. Here’s a few runners-up I didn’t include because this is already hella long. If you can think of more I missed, let me know your favorite 90s sex jams in the comments.

Happy Monday! I wanted to offer something a little light-hearted to start off the week, so I decided to dedicate this post to a few fierce fat female recording artists that have rocked my world and provided a counterpoint to how fat women are viewed in society. These women are all in control of their own image, their own unique styles, and have managed to find success in an industry that isn’t all that friendly to non-Katy Perry looking women.

Martha Wash is a big reason why vocal credits are listed on albums now. Back in the ’90s, she did the vocals for C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat” but in the music video, a thin woman was featured lip syncing to Wash’s vocals. She sued for royalties and won. Wash is actually a favorite among gay men and regularly performs at LGBT events. Her story illustrates the prejudice displayed by the music industry against fat women—they didn’t want Wash to appear in the video due to her size.

Jill Scott also appears on TV in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency on HBO. She’s one of my favorite singers and has always represented fierce fat women to the fullest as well as holding it down for the natural sisters out there. Jill has made forays onto the big screen as well, appearing in Why Did I Get Married? and Why Did I Get Married Too? This video is my favorite of hers, if only for the wig yanking.

Although she’s smaller than when she first came out, Missy Elliott is still larger than your average pop starlet. And when she first came out, she ignored pretty much every fashion “rule” for fat chicks—her first video, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” featured her dressed in an inflated garbage bag of a jumpsuit. Repping for the smaller fats now, her style hasn’t changed. She’s still as unique (and multitalented) as ever.

When she was nominated for an Oscar back in 2002 (for Chicago), Queen Latifah caused a fashion uproar by simply being fatter than the average screen siren. Designers lined up to dress her for the Oscars, the coming of the plus size revolution was trumpeted, and she got contracts for various cosmetic and fashion companies. It wasn’t until Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe were nominated that another fat actress received the amount of fashion designers fawning over them that Latifah did. Back in the 00s, she was our fat icon.

Fashion’s current fat darling, Beth Ditto, has contributed a great deal artistically to getting representations of fat bodies out there with no holds barred. Frequently appearing naked in magazines, Ditto wears tight, revealing clothing on the regular and has no qualms with showing her body in what many would consider “unflattering” ways. She’s teamed up with UK fat fashion retailer Evans to create two collections of clothes reflecting her personal style. Even noted fatphobe Karl Lagerfeld had to act like he could stand being next to a fat person for a while to take pictures with her at Fashion Week—and she played a private Fendi party.

Adele is a Grammy award-winning fat UK soul singer with an amazingly evocative voice and a quirky personal style. Have you noticed the best soul singers are usually fat? It’s our superpower. Like so many other fat women in the music industry, she’s been thrown shade by the fashion powers-that-be, namely Vogue magazine, but Anna Wintour’s fear of fat has been documented for ages now.

An honorary mention goes to two former fats, Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Holliday (from the Broadway production of Dreamgirls. Here they are belting out the signature song from the movie/musical that made them both famous–when they were fat. Although I think this was shot pre-Weight Watchers for J.Hud. It’s sad to lose them, but odds are they’ll be back. We’ll save seats for you, divas.

While these ladies may or may not consider themselves feminists, as a young hip-hop fan looking for tracks that I could rap along to without 1) contorting my voice into deep tones, 2) having to change all the pronouns, and 3) convincing myself that the “hoes” referenced in the songs I was rapping to had nothing to do with REGULAR black women, I found them inspiring and much easier to enjoy. Roll call!

Salt-N-Pepa debuted in 1985 with “The Showstopper” but didn’t hit it big until 1986 with the release of Hot, Cool and Vicious which included the platinum hit “Push It”. I LOVED these ladies. They were the first female rappers I heard when I started listening to hip-hop in the early nineties, when they came out with “Let’s Talk About Sex” which actually was what made me aware of the issue of AIDS. Not only were they politically aware, they were sex-positive, too! And they could drop HITS that I shook my little 11 year old booty to. I did that dance from “Push It” to pretty much every song. When I got into my BMG/Columbia House scamming days, Very Necessary was one of the first albums I got with my penny. And if she/ wanna be a freak an’/ sell it on the weekend/ IT’S NONE OF YO’ BIZNASS!

Queen Latifah first got on my radar with “U.N.I.T.Y.”, which I recognize was pretty late. But the song provided a bumpin’ counterpoint to all the “bitch” and “ho” shit going on in hip-hop during the gangsta rap days (which have now become decades since “bitch” and “ho” never went out of style). And I have to admit I am a huge West Coast gangsta rap lover, but I internalized Latifah’s message, which enabled me to brush off the insults and characterize them as what they were — ignorance. With a bomb beat. Latifah’s been on the scene since 1989 with All Hail the Queen, which included the hip-hop feminist anthem “Ladies First”.

The Lady of Rage doesn’t get mentioned much, but as I stated before I was heavy into West Coast gangsta rap in the nineties so naturally I was interested in Rage, since she was featured on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic. She released “Afro Puffs”, which has since become one of my favorite nineties tracks, in 1994. She has AMAZING flow. I love rapping along to anything she does. She didn’t drop a solo album until 1997’s Necessary Roughness, but made appearances on Snoop Dogg and various other Death Row artists’ albums in the meantime. Without her, I couldn’t rock ruff an’ stuff with my Afro Puffs.

Da Brat was another one with amazing flow. She dropped her debut, Funkdafied in ’94. Her lyrical gymnastics give me chills and again, I pride myself on being able to sing along. The embed is one of my favorite songs, and she also did a HOT song with B.I.G. called “The B Side” that I count among my favorites, too. Brat is pretty much the only thing Jermaine Dupri did for me. She often collabs with my ultimate rap role model, see below.

Lil’ Kim ROCKED MY WORLD when the above track hit my ears. I was in love. Tight rhymes, fanciful subject matter, and the video was incredible. All those wigs! Hardcore dropped in 1994 and my life was not the same. I can quote Kim lyrics at will — the woman shaped my sexual philosophy. If you ain’t lickin’ this, you ain’t stickin’ this became my motto. I used’ta be scared of the dick/ Now I throw lips to the shit/ Handle it like a real bitch opened up the world of fellatio for me. Yes, I was at the tender age of 14 when it came out, but I rocked that CD until 2000 when she came out with Notorious K.I.M.. I will be the first to admit she is problematic. But when that woman ripped the mic out of Puff Daddy’s hand in the “All About the Benjamins” remix video, she ripped the mic out of the hands of all male artists. SHE CAN RHYME, y’all. I’ve heard her freestyle and it is on point. Her fashion is atrocious, the plastic surgery is awful and the feuds legendary, but Lil’ Kim still holds the crown of Queen of Rap. I could write an entire article on the institution that is Kim. Maybe I will.

Bahamadia will take us out of this article. Her style is so laid back, you might not notice that she’s a lyrical genius. Her album Kollage came out in 1996. She takes me back to the days of Latifah, when female rappers were more concerned with rhyming than catfighting. (I see you, Kim.) When I want to kick back but keep my mind stimulated, I put on either Kollage or her EP Bb Queen. She’s kind of an underground/indie type rapper (aka no guns or Gucci), performing with The Roots and Talib Kweli. That’s pretty much the main type of hip-hop I listen to now, besides Kim and old school rappers. I get tired of the horrible production value of the recycled crap they play on the radio these days. Now get off my lawn!!

This is by no means a comprehensive list of women in hip hop, and I know some of y’all are going to object to some of these women being labeled “feminist”. But they each empowered me in SOME WAY, and that shaped my worldview and thus my feminism as it is today.