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Do you remember where you were when the Spice Girls first came on the scene? I do. I was sitting in a laundromat, hungover from partying the night before, wondering how I was going to finish my university assignments and make my student budget stretch for the rest of the academic year. To say I was jaded when I first saw them would be polite.
When I saw the poster of those five young ladies looking all energetic and perky, my reaction wasn't ... let's say … gracious. They looked like they'd irritate me, and I predicted (or was it hoped?) they'd last all but five minutes. I tried to ignore their attempts at world domination by listening to my CD copies of D'Angelo's first album, "Brown Sugar" (released in 1995), and Erykah Badu's classic, "Baduizm" (released in 1997).
Imagine my amusement months later, when I saw the Spice Girl's big budget ad on TV, singing about Generation Next for Pepsi Cola.
Until recently, 1998 was only five years ago. The realization that Erykah Badu's album was 18 years old made me realize how much time had flown.
Then in May, Lauryn Hill turned 40. As did David Beckham. And Andre 3000 of Outkast. I saw a pattern, so I consulted "The Google" and learned that quite a few pop culture innovators, former trouble makers, question askers and status quo breakers were coming of age this year.
Yet, for all of their challenges, Gen Xers have left their mark—in the pop culture world at least. In celebration of these artists who, like fine wine are just getting better with age, here are some of my favorite 1975 babies:
Sure, there were girl bands that came before them, but this group of gutsy, brash, loud young women encouraged all of us to live life out loud and zig-ah-zig-aaahhh. some of the group turned 40 last year, but my favorite, Mel B, turned 40 on May 29.
This football (or as you say in the US, soccer) star married a Spice Girl. He has played for some of the world's most prestigious teams.His football skills even inspired the title of "Bend It Like Beckham," which, in turn jump started the careers of Parminder Nagra (also 40 this year), Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Archie Panjabi. Then he moved to LA and did some modeling on the side. Now, he's been recognized by the Royal Family for his contribution to sport with an Order of the British Empire (OBE).
This beautiful woman can MC, sing and act. She made us ask critical questions about gender, race, class equality—and our wardrobes. Remember the Fugees version of "Killing Me Softly" and "Everything is Everything"? She went quiet a few years after releasing her classic album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," reportedly because of personal and legal challenges. But she's back, and her album has been entered into the Library of Congress, alongside Radiohead's "OK Computer."
Andre Benjamin (May 27) and Antwan Patton (February 1) have sold over 25 million records to date. I won't bore you with the music nerd details, but the song "Bombs Over Baghdad" is seminal. And we all remember the monster hit "Hey Ya." Antwan (aka Big Boi) has since produced some of pop music's biggest stars and Andre (aka Andre 3000) did some acting before they reunited again in 2014.
Curtis James Jackson is a multi-award-winning MC. People are still dancing to his catchy song "In Da Club." He's also an entrepreneur; he created G-Unit records, among other companies, and invested in a company that made enhanced water. According to Forbes, that move paid off. In 2011, he put his entrepreneurial skills to the test by linking sales of his energy drink to donations to the World Food Program over five years.
6. Talib Kweli (October 3)
Kweli formed the group Black Star with Mos Def (now known as Yasiin Bey). Their album, "Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star" is loved by fans of Hip Hop, for its message and the beats. He's also known for his solo work too. If you're not a hip hop fan, but a fan of Dave Chappelle, you probably saw him perform on Chappelle's Comedy Central show. Today he's still making music. If you were watching the coverage of Ferguson after the officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown, you most likely saw him challenging the media to do a better job of its coverage.
In 1997 he became the first golfer of African-American or Asian descent to win the Masters Golf Tournament. In 2009 he became the first athlete to become a billionaire. Then he lost us all with that term he used to describe himself: Calabanasian.