Diamonds & Wood (90’s R&B Edition!): Shopping Is Not Fun, Blackstreet, Ginuwine, SWV, Tres Tonys, Adina Howard And More

"Diamonds & Wood" is an ongoing series in which music critic Shea Serrano breaks down the 5 hip-hop tracks you need to hear this week.

I don't like shopping. Like, not even a little. I buy new clothes once a year (in the fall, when the school year starts). I don't look for bargains and I don't try to match things and I guess I just really don't care. I offer shopping the same amount of consideration that I give to the structural integrity of tugboats or hungry children that aren't related to me.

Most times, I don't even bother trying stuff on. I just grab two pair of pants (sizes 30x30 and 32x30) and two shirts (sizes Small and Medium), try those on to see which fit the best, then just grab whatever I can find in the winning sizes. Mostly it works, but occasionally it doesn't. (I ended up with a brutal pair of Super Skinny jeans this year. I thought they were just regular jeans when I grabbed them.) No matter though. Every war has its casualties. My balls are uncomfortable, but my brain is free. That's even-steven, I'd say.

But there was tiny shift recently. I felt the compulsion to the the mall earlier this week. It was after I read this thing about something called "The Cozy Boyz," which seemed like maybe the most important thing I'd ever read in my entire life that was indirectly related to my testicles. So I went. I found some boyz (all over the place) and I even found some stuff that was comfortable (at Brookstone), but I couldn't find any place that offered both. So I was just grumpy and mad and stupid, making a scrunchy face at anyone that happened across my trajectory.

The guys in the Armani Exchange store? Dude. Does anyone that likes his or herself even go in there? I think I was in there for maybe two minutes before I began trying to calculate the odds of me escaping if I stabbed several people. (Really, I don't think a judge would be too hard. He'd be like, "So you sliced open six people in the mall, huh?" and I'd be like, "Correct. However, in my defense, all of them had eagle wings stitched onto the back pockets of their jeans" and he'd be like, "Case dismissed." Judges know their shit, bro.)

The guys in Express? Fuck those guys and fuck their producer pants. I tried some on at the suggestion of a salesperson (his cologne was quite convincing). I didn't feel like a producer, I just felt like a jackass in pants that were disproportionately priced and unnecessarily shiny. I don't want shiny pants because I don't go jogging at night. I have one quality test for pants: will it be hard to get the mustard stain out of them after I inevitably spill it on them?

The guys in Gap? Dude. Who designs their shirts? It's like they're made for small refrigerators. Danny DeVito probably walks in their like, "FUCK. YES. This v-neck is perfect."

The guy that sells the toy helicopters at the kiosk near the escalators? He's actually a pretty nice person.

The guys in Urban Outfitters? Fuck those guys. There's definitely a relationship between the number of times I've asked someone there for help finding something and the number of times I've wanted for some airplane debris to fall right the fuck out of the sky right onto my chest. I went to try on a pair of pants and a shirt when I was there. The dressing room guy asked me how many items I had. I wasn't prepared. I panicked. I said, "Oh, uh, three." He took them from me and counted them on the way to the room. He said, "Nope, you have five." Then I had to stand there and absorb his stare while he silently tried to decide if I was a criminal or just a guy that couldn't count. I don't know which one is worse, but I know it didn't matter because he wasn't very pretty. It's like, I'll take some condescension from a person with a symmetrical face, but if one of your eyes is lower than the other, you might as well not even be human.

I think I went to maybe seven stores over the course of 20-23 minutes. I didn't find anything. The only thing I bought was a cookie and a Coke-flavored Icee.

My whole life.

Note: R. Kelly announced that he was getting ready to release the next 400 installments of his brilliantly goofy "Trapped In The Closet" series. Here's the trailer. As such, I spent the better part of the last few days listening to old R&B music, basically the best music that has ever existed. So, in lieu of rap videos this week, we've got that. Aces.

1. Blackstreet, "No Diggity," featuring Dr. Dre

THERE'S A GODDAMN PUPPET PLAYING THE PIANO IN THIS VIDEO.

2. Ginuwine, "Pony"

Ginuwine's abs are so amazing that they effectively end racism for the 4:34 of this video. I mean, I don't see how we've gone this long and Barack Obama hasn't gone that route. I'm saying, imagine how monumentally monumental it would be if during the next debate, Obama responded to a Romney tort with, "Well, it's simple Mitt, see we've just got to…" and then he ripped open his shirt and start bodyrolling all over the stage and shit. FUCK, I WANT TO VOTE FOR HIM 100X RIGHT NOW JUST THINKING ABOUT IT.

3. SWV, "Anything"

Sorry. It's just… whatever, man.

4. Tony Toni Tone, "Feels Good"

This song was good enough to make everyone ignore that the third Tony in "Tony Toni Tone" wasn't actually a Tony at all.

5. Adina Howard, "Freak Like Me"

Confession: When I was a young teenager, my buddy Julio and I recorded this video on a VCR. We'd rewind and replay the 1:05-1:07 part over and over AND OVER. I remember being flabbergasted. There just weren't any girls at Ronald McNair Middle School that were moving like that in 1995, is all.

Shea Serrano is a writer living in Houston, TX. His work has appeared in the Houston Press, LA Weekly, Village Voice, XXL, The Source, Grantland and more. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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