Album: Ahmad
Label: Giant/Reprise/Warner Bros.
Producer: Ahmad, Redfoo

Ahmad was a smart rapper. Not just clever—the dude graduated from Stanford with a degree in sociology. Maybe that’s why he could hone in on all those details that make “Back In the Day” feel like an emblem for everyone’s childhood, even though his details are all about an L.A. childhood: “Hide and go get it” with the younger hoes by the bungalows; the day when J.J. Fad’s “Supersonic” hit the streets; the stoop-sitting dream of escaping South Central.

We still grimace when I hear the line about eating “pickles and tootsie pops” but in retrospect it’s the perfect way to describe the bitter sweetness of the beat, which is based on Womack & Womack’s 1981 hit “Love TKO.”

Even if you are in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, this song slows down everything around you. Ahmad produced it himself (with an assist from Redfoo of LMFAO), which part of why we forgive his blatant imitation of The Pharcyde.