Zenizen: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Zenizen: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Rising artist Zenizen shares with TIDAL 5 albums that have changed her life, personally and professionally.


Pointer Sisters, Black & White

I don’t even know why that one in particular, but my mom had it. When I was a kid, I used to play that record out. It was just my favorite. It was the first thing I was obsessed with, musically. There’s stuff that was cool, but I was like six or seven.

I knew every word, all the outfits on the cover, and I would just listen to it on repeat. I think I have a pretty tacky taste and there’s just something about it. They have much more iconic records and they also have some bizarre records from earlier, but it just hit that sweet spot of prime ’80s, smooth R&B. It was these smooth jams, but then all the groovy bits and frills that you wanted. I really, truly liked it. It wasn’t cool; it wasn’t something that someone recommended to me. It was something I found and actually liked.

Hairspray, Soundtrack

When I was a kid, I could not stop watching John Waters’ Hairspray. It was my favorite movie of all time. You could not pry that movie out of my hands. I watched it at least three times a week, so the soundtrack to that is just so good. My parents were into some oldies, but not so much.

It was super interesting to have race relations be at the center of this movie. I’m black, and I was raised in an incredibly white place, for the most part. My parents were super white, so it’s kind of always interesting without being heavy. I feel like all the songs from that soundtrack also, it wasn’t about the songs themselves, but about their application. They all kind of do a different thing for you. It was something that made me realize that music was representative, and it didn’t have to just sound good and sit on a table.

Eric Lau, New Territories

It was probably the thing that switched me from enjoying music that someone else was making into me being interested in participating also. I don’t know when it came out, 2007 or 2008, so it is relatively new. That just was a record that had music that I really liked, but all of the lyrics are pretty serious in most of the messaging. It’s borderline spiritual. There is this new jazzy scene of people who are talking about politics or identity politics or finding yourself and understanding the world in a more subtle way than a Soulquarian or Erykah Badu situation. It’s kind of like, “Hey guys, here’s the realities were living in.” It synced up with what I was already thinking, but didn’t have an outlet for.

White Noise, An Electric Storm

Delia Derbyshire put together this band in the ’60s. Like I said, my taste is pretty tacky. I love stuff that is clearly good. When I was a kid, I was a big perfectionist, and I feel like that record was one of the things that I had picked up that was just on the edge. I don’t even know, it was weird and who even does that? I liked a lot of records that I could see myself emulating, and with this, it was like, “Wow.”

Spice Girls, Spice

When I was a kid, pretty much everything about my lifestyle was bizarre because I was adopted and my parents are like highly hippies. We were always going to like the Vermont Leadership Center or some Buhddist thing. The Spice Girls, it was just like, everyone loves the Spice Girls. It was just THE thing to do. I actually really enjoyed everything that came with the Spice Girls, like cutting out the photos from the magazine or the Spice Girls book. Every time we would listen to that record, it was just like me and my friends all doing the same thing and I was so there for that.

(photo credit: Timothy Murray)

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