I had to check when this song and video came out because I associate it so heavily with college. Except, this was a single from Baduizm, which was released in February of 1997 when I was a senior in high school. The video for “Other Side of The Game” came out in the summer of 1997 before I even got to college so it’s curious why I associate it with that era of my life. Though now that I think about it, I was in a pre-freshman summer program at Morehouse College for science, math and engineering majors so perhaps that’s why. Anyhoo, It also seems like a whole lifetime apart (at least in my mind) from the video for “On & On,” which was released at the end of 1996. It’s funny how times flies when you’re having fun.
This video is iconic for a few reasons. It comes on the heels of her video for the amazing single, “Next Lifetime,” which featured Erykah at various phases of her physical life journeys (in 1968, as part of the Black Power movement dating Pete Rock, only to become enamored with Method Man who she is with...in like 3037...presumably her next lifetime). The video ends with her and André 3000 finding one another, but having to wait until the next lifetime. I remember this song being hugely popular. Instead of shunning advances of would-be suitors, college students everywhere would just say, “See you next lifetime.” It sounds better than “Get the fuck on with that bullshit.”
At the time, Andre and Erykah were dating so “Next Lifetime” was a cute nod to their relationship. Well, “Other Side of The Game” leveled it all the way up. The video is a one-shot, moving video where 3000 and Erykah are living together and 3000 is an iconic kind of bohemian criminal because he just didn’t look like the nefarious type but here he is in cahoots with 12 (a popular term for the police—especially in Atlanta where that term was even popular when I was a child; “fuck 12" was then and still is a popular refrain—a reference to tv show Adam-12) and also possibly slanging rocks? Talk about a paradigm shift.
Now, if you went to college in the ’90s you knew that the cats rocking linen, sandals and chew sticks could get you whatever you needed, but I don’t remember seeing that in videos before (or after really). Then again, Erykah and André’s loft was a lot nicer than everybody else’s spot, too. It was the appropriate amount of colorful, but they had two ovens. I’m just saying, I worked at a call center in Atlanta with the vast majority of folks who really needed to work in a place with a lax dress code. That ain’t the two oven life is all I’m saying.
Anyway, I remember this video being “goals” before that was a thing but most importantly, this might be the first baby reveal music video ever. I didn’t check on this, by the way. At a point in the video, Dré gets down on his knees and listens to her stomach and you hear the heartbeat and we were all like, “awwwwwww.” Beyoncé did that some years ago on stage at, I think at the MTV Awards, but Erykah been done did that, brodie. That alone makes it iconic because it was black love on display in many ways. A real-life romance between two immensely popular humans that we also loved as a couple being used to tell a story where they announce their baby. Awww.