Traditionally at Y&Y, on Thursdays we throwback to tunes that deserve to be remembered. But now we’re widening the net and taking you back, way back, back into time with not just music, but fashion, films, cultural moments and movements from yester-year. We’ll reminisce on the good old days (damn, we’re getting old) or talk about things that need to stay in the past. Welcome to the remixed #throwbackthursday.
I’m taking the reigns on the first one, throwing back to two young men who were a massive part of my childhood.
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Kenan & Kel were a regular after-school fixture in my household. Kel Mitchell was probably one of my first crushes – though I didn’t recognise it as such then.
The series started on Nickelodeon in 1996 – eighteen years ago. It was such a moment in our house that one of my little sister’s earliest phrases was “who loves orange soda…?” – at nearly 19, she’s just made it on the right side of this meme. Though it felt like it lasted even longer, it ran for four seasons – until 2000. They weren’t just massive in my house – (late) 80s and 90s babies around the world still know all the words to that infamous Coolio intro. Their franchise was strong enough for them to create a successful film – Good Burger.
More importantly, as a cultural moment, it was the first time such positive images on ‘urban’ young Black boys were made mainstream for really young audiences across America and internationally. Yes, Fresh Prince was a family show, but Kenan & Kel was for kids - and these two boys - were positioned as “authentically street” (whatever that means), dressed in “hip hop” attire, and yet, were not dysfunctional – Kenan came from a stable, two-parent home. These boys were playful, regular kids – and the world saw that. They were allowed to be normal, and themselves, and relatable, even if they wore baggy jeans, even if Kenan had little baby locs, and even if their bedrooms (studio sets) were covered with pictures of Lisa Monet, Michael Jordan and Malcolm X.
After the series ended, unfortunately the guys went their separate ways with a pretty public fall out. Kenan Thompson is now a regular face on SNL, while Kel Mitchell does regular tidbits on the Black Hollywood scene.
Shame, as I could have envisaged them as a bad-ass comedy duo still killing it way into their thirties. While that wasn’t to be, get nostalgic with me and throwback to your younger-years with this episode from the first season: