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The South Got Somethin’ To Say!

As part of the NYU: Music Industry Essentials Program I am part of here is one of my assignments talking about the rise of Southern Hip Hop/Rap. Check out the playlist links below and read the article. #MusicUproject

Click here to listen on Apple Music, listen on Tidal, and click below listen on Spotify.

Hip Hop origins started in The Bronx, New York in the late ’70s and early ’80s. By the mid-’90s, the genre was dominated by East Coast and West Coast-based rappers. However, Southern-based artists were essentially the overlooked underdogs, but would soon be the trailblazing leaders ushering a generation into soulful, yet eclectic sounds. According to BET”s Making documentary, during the 1995 Source Awards for Rap-Hip Hop artists held at Madison Square Garden in New York, Rap duo, OutKast, won for best new rap group for their debut album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.  

Some felt like they finally had representation in the Hip Hop genre because groups like OutKast had music that reflected their Southern environments, cruising through the city during Freak-Nik, in the car, with bass bumping synths, strings, snares, chopped and screwed soulful grooves. Although the group won they were booed by the audience while they accepted the award. During the acceptance speech, OutKast member, André 3000 said, “But it’s like this though, I’m tired of folks them closed-minded folks, it’s like we gotta demo tape but don’t nobody want to hear it. But it’s like this: the South got something to say, that’s all I got to say!” 

This prophetic declaration was echoed around the world and was the catalyst for Southern artists to become award-winning millionaires and dominate the Hip Hop/Rap charts for the 99’ and 2000s through the snap, crunk, bass, bounce, twerk, and trap music eras that came from the South are still felt in 2021. Many Southern producers such as Georgia’s Lil’ Jon, Virginia’s Timbaland, Missy Elliott, The Neptunes: Pharrell & Chad Hugo, Louisiana’s Lil’ Wayne, Juvenile, Mannie Fresh, Master P, and DJ Khaled, Tennessee’s Juicy J and Miami’s Uncle Luke and North Carolina’s Little Brother’s influence dominated the Hip Hop-Rap scenes in the late nineties and early aughts. Some producers even started to create their own record labels such as Georgia-based, SO SO DEF Records lead by producer Jermaine Dupri. Louisiana-based NO LIMIT Records lead by Percy “Master P” Miller and CASH MONEY Records lead by Brian “Birdman/Baby” Williams and Tennessee-based HYPNOTIZE MINDS, lead by Three 6 Mafia’s, DJ Paul and Juicy J and Texas-based UGK Records, lead by rap duo UGK. 

Southern Hip Hop producers and artists have paved the way for modern Hip Hop chart-toppers. DJ Screw, Gucci Mane, T.I., Jeezy, Ludacris, 2 Chainz, Lil Jon, Trina, Left Eye, Missy Elliott, The Ying Yang Twins, and Travis Porter, helped pave the way for artists like Migos, Future, Travis Scott, Young Thug, City Girls, Megan Thee Stallion, and more!

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My Favorite Halftime Performances!

Super Bowl 57 is coming up on Sunday, February 12, 2023 at Arizona’s State Farm Stadium. The Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs will be playing against each other, but as a music and pop culture lover I am more excited about the half-time show! This year’s halftime performer is Rihanna! She hasn’t performed in about six years, so this should be interesting! It got me thinking about previous halftime performances and here are my Top 6.

Prince’s 2007 Halftime performance! He was literally playing “Purple Rain” as it just so happened to literally be raining! Click here to watch the performance.

Photo from Google Images

Michael Jackson’s Halftime performance back in 1993 circa the Dangerous album era. It really was a mini concert from the King of Pop. People were passing out at the sight of MJ! Click here to watch on YouTube.

Photo from Google Images

Janet Jackson’s Halftime performance back in 2004. Despite the infamous wardrobe malfunction Ms. Jackson and her dancers hit every 8-count. Click here to watch on YouTube.

Photo from Google Images

Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Coldplay got in “formation” during the 2016 halftime show. Click here to watch.

Photo from Google Images

Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child reunited for the 2013 halftime show and literally shut it down! The lights in the arena went out after the epic performance causing a 33 minute blackout. Click here to watch!

Photo from Google Images

Last, but not least The Super Bowl 2022 halftime show was epic! I enjoyed it and the set design was awesome as well as the performances! It was a nice surprise to see Anderson.Paak on the drums and 50 cent make an appearance. Mary J.’s thigh high boots were everything and Kendrick and Eminem, Dr.Dre, and Snoop Dogg were great too! Click here to watch!

Photo from Google Images

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My Hair, My Choice

I like the choice of wearing my hair in different styles. Most of the time it’s because I get bored easily and other times I don’t feel like doing my thick hair or permanently having my hair look the same. Some say “it’s just hair”, but to me, it’s not. Haircare is a multi-million-dollar industry and hair is sensitive and controversial topic. Even comedian, Chris Rock, did a documentary back in 2009 called “Good Hair” about black women and their relationship with natural hair, hair straighteners, and weaves. I have noticed how some people treat others differently based off of their hair texture, hair color, hair length and hair style. I have also been treated differently or receive more or less attention depending on how my hair looks.

More recently film maker, Matthew A. Cherry’s , animated short film “Hair Love” about a black father styling his daughter’s natural hair won an Academy Award. More and more black people are embracing their natural curls and coils. However not every person, workplace, or environment is as accepting. The state of California is one of the first states to ban discrimination based off of ones natural hair, with The Crown Act, but other places have currently not followed suit. Recently I’ve read dozens of articles on how some people have been suspended from schools, sports teams, fired from jobs and even told they would not be able to walk at graduation ceremonies, not because of the content of their character, but simply because of their hair texture, hair color, or hair style preference. Why are we judging someone solely off their natural hair and not their character?

In our society depending on the community or culture hair that is straighter or wavier or long is considered ‘good’ and anything that is not like that is considered ‘bad’.  I had relaxers (chemical hair straightening) for 14 years of my life and at age 19 I decided to stop getting relaxers and “go natural” (stopped using chemical straightening). I decided to go natural because the stylist I had been going to moved and I was away in college in another city and didn’t feel like experimenting with any more different stylists who said they did relaxers, but ended up damaging people’s hair. I was also curious how my natural hair looked because I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t have relaxers. I also did not want to cut all my hair off so I transitioned by getting weaves and braids.  IMG_0856

I have now been relaxer free for 12 years. I get my hair blown out and flat ironed and I sometimes wear it un-straightened. One thing that I’ve noticed is that my natural hair is healthier and thicker than it was when I was getting relaxers.  I still like to wear braids and weaves simply because I think they’re pretty and less maintenance, especially when exercising. There is nothing wrong with wanting versatility in hair. Just because you choose to wear your natural hair chemical free, just because you choose to get relaxers, just because you choose not to wear weave does not make you better or less than. How do you know someone isn’t battling an illness or dealing with hair loss? Not everyone that wears their hair straight or weaved is bald or hates themselves.  I find it interesting that whenever I have my hair in a certain style I attract certain people or get more or less attention. I often wonder why this is. I wonder if people think about that when they’re speaking to a person. Whatever happened to style preference and upkeep? What if you want your hair straight today and curly next week? What if you want length and don’t have the patience to wait until it grows a certain length? What if you want to have short hair without actually cutting your own hair? All I want to say is let’s focus not only on hair style, but what’s underneath, like our hair health and spiritual health.

Here is the Apple Music Playlist for Hair & Self Care and Spotify playlist below.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5yYxskT0n2wixFXoTqRrtF?si=BS86ddF2RXScHatTXYfeUw

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Sampled Songs Playlist

Kanye West sampled Chaka Khan’s 1984 hit R&B ballad “Through The Fire” on his 2004 hit “Through The Wire” off “The College Dropout” album. I think sampled songs are generation gap connectors and a way to introduce older songs to younger generations. It’s also a way for newer artists to pay homage to the great artists before them. SAMPLED SONGS Playlist Links below. What’s your favorite sampled song? Check the playlist below on Spotify. Apple Music users click here and Tidal users click here.

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Israel, Jordan, & Egypt Trip

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whatever platform you listen to podcasts on.

Click here to listen The past two weeks in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt have been a spiritual and emotional awakening and a breath of fresh air for me. Seeing The Middle East and North Africa for myself has been amazing. The pandemic and life itself have been a LOT to deal with, so this trip has been a relaxing reset. I have traveled overseas before years ago while I was in college I studied abroad in various Italian cities and have vacationed in London, England, Paris, France, and Athens and Santorini, Greece. Yet, this trip just feels different to my soul and was my first international trip since 2016! Also, my mother traveled back in the 80’s to Israel and other places and my maternal grandmother traveled years ago to the Holy Land too, so it’s in my blood to explore!

At the Pyramids of Giza in Giza, Egypt

I went by myself with the Go-Ahead travel group,(click the underlined link for more info.) which consists of various cultures and types of people from across the U.S.A. The tour company also has payment plans and take care of everything like flights, tours, local tour guides and translators, security,and transportation for you and was worth it to me! I was also happy I went with a travel group and not alone because it was a LOT of pick pocketers and people that prey on tourists, so I am grateful for the local tour guides and the security we had on the charter bus in The Middle East/North Africa. Also, to see the touristy sites be prepared to wake up early or go earlier in the day when it’s cooler and less crowds or research the better time of year to go. This is a major factor for a religious region with different holidays. Seeing places that I’ve only read about in The Bible or National Geographic or heard about from Westernized media has been very eye opening.

The Temple of Hercules at the Citadel Ruins in Amman, Jordan

Traveling and learning more about the three Abrahamic Religions✝️☪️🔯(Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) and this Holy Land for myself has expanded my mindset on religion and spirituality. The people in Jordan were so kind, yet very curious about me and some Jordanian teens and small children came up to me out of curiosity and intrigue wanting to take pictures and interact with a darker skinned Black American like me.

Young Jordanian teens who asked me to take selfies with them.

I felt like a celebrity or something with all the stares in Amman and Aqaba, Jordan. The culture here in the Middle East & North Africa is different. Not as many people were looking down at devices all day as much and actually talk to one another or make do with so much less and women dress much more conservatively in beautiful fabrics and coverings (hijabs)and have beautiful eye brows and makeup. Some of the Jewish men in Israel wear yamakas on their head. There is internet-WiFi at the hotels I stayed in, but not many English speaking options to watch and very censored and dubbed media outlets. In Israel the people primarily speak Hebrew, English, and other languages. In Jordan and Egypt, the people primarily speak Arabic and English and other languages too. So far the top highlights so far of my trip have been in Israel floating in The Dead Sea with no swimming or floating device!

Relaxing and floating in the Dead Sea.

I can swim and love the water, but The Dead Sea is so salty and the pull of gravity below sea level literally makes you float on your back and the sea salt water and oil makes your skin feel like you have been at the spa! So cool! Then riding on camels in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan was amazing. The scenery literally looks like a screen saver or movie set, but this is nature! This is real life! I had to pinch myself and after taking so many pictures put my phone up and just absorb the environment. I am in amazement with the people of the Bedouin tribe with NO GPS and being in the middle of the desert with no lights etc. they navigate the land by camels and star gazing and looking at the mountains.

In the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan.

Reminiscent of the wisemen in The Bible Story of the Nativity of men following the stars to find Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to give them gold, franksense, and mur. Also, the camel’s hide feels like soft carpet! As a believer of Jesus seeing the places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and going to the places where Jesus walked and performed miracles was chillingly moving. Going to the Western/Wailing Wall to say a prayer and put a prayer in the wall in Israel was powerful and going to the Garden of Gathsemene where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified gave me chills.

At the Wailing Wall in Israel where the men and the women are separated on different sides and have to dress more conservative.

I was also in awe seeing the pyramids and sphinx in Giza, Egypt and The Nile River and I immediately thought of Moses and the book of Exodus in the Bible and the film “The Prince of Egypt.”

The Nile River In Egypt
Kissing the Sphinx in Giza, Egypt

The ancient ruins and wonders of the world have stood the test of time! I also thought of Michael Jackson’s Egyptian themed “Remember the Time” music videos. Also, it was eye opening going to the Holocaust Museum and memorial in Israel. It was heart breaking seeing the remnants of such evil. Out of respect I did not take pictures inside of the Holocaust Museum.

The outside of The Holocaust Museum in Israel.
The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

It was also interesting and so beautiful looking at the ancient places, architecture, and ancient ruins in Jarash, Jordan or Al-Khazneh (the treasury) in Petra, Jorda, which was also featured in “The Indiana Jones” Movie series and have stood the test of time. Also seeing the Upper Room where Jesus and his disciples ate At The Last Supper and where King David was buried in was intriguing too.

Al-Khazneh (The Treasury)
Petra, Jordan

Going through the border control to leave Israel and enter Jordan and seeing the walls that divide the Holy lands and the political, religious, and repercussions it has on the people in the area were eye-opening. In Israel, young men and young women must join the military at 18 and it was interesting seeing them patrol the streets and holy sites with rifles. Whereas in Jordan and Egypt I didn’t see as many weapons just a greater police presence. In Israel, Jordan, and Egypt there really aren’t a lot of pork food options due to the religious aspects of the area.

Modern sculpture known as the Statue of Faith, made of Galilee stone, stands at the top of Abrasha Park in the Old City of Jaffa on Tel Aviv, Israel
Fresh fruit form the market!

However the grilled lamb, fish, chicken, hummus, pita bread, potatoes, rice, fruit, and vegetables were so fresh and good and people drink lots of hot tea. I don’t think there are the same preservatives there are in the food as in the USA.

Egyptian kabobs, rice, and fries
Sunset in Aqaba, Jordan

Also, the time change is about 6-7hours difference. So when it’s afternoon or evening here it’s early morning or middle of the day or night back home in the USA. Soccer and Basketball are major international sports so it was cool seeing people enjoy that. There is so much more I can say, but overall this has been a trip of a lifetime. I will forever cherish these moments. Thank you, God!

The manger of Jesus in Bethlehem
The Garden of Gathsemene in Israel where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified.
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What moving away from my hometown taught me…

I moved away from my hometown in Columbus, Georgia for a job in South Carolina back in August of 2019. If you would have told me that a global pandemic would happen 6 months later and that by the end of 2020 I would be living back home due to the office closing and then becoming a caregiver for my Dad I probably wouldn’t believe ya! However, there is nothing like having an opportunity, getting out of your comfort zone, and moving to a different city with no close friends or family there. Whew Chile! It’s been an emotional journey. This past year has shown me how to stop relying on myself so much and to rely on God more, and trust His plan and not my own. Starting a new job position in the middle of August 2019 and also having to quickly find a nice affordable apartment and moving all within a two-week time span, to meeting new people, making new friends, and adjusting to life in a new city and state, then moving back has been a lot. On top of all this back in October of 2019 I was in a car accident that totaled my car. I was fortunate enough to walk away without any physical trauma, and I was able to quickly get another vehicle. Praise God!

I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit closer to God and am becoming an even stronger person that is blossoming into more. Sometimes it takes going elsewhere to really see what you’re capable of. It makes you more appreciative of certain things that “home” offers like never having to use a GPS device or always having somebody nearby if an emergency happens and oddly you see who really is your “friend” when you are away in a different phase of life. I also see how certain people are your friends for reasons, seasons, and life times.

Thank God for technology like text messages and video chat apps like iPhone’s FaceTime and the “old school” phone call. Sometimes living in a different city is a fresh start for better and more opportunities and a new chapter in the book of life for lots of people. I’ve never been afraid to explore or go on adventures, but it’s a difference between visiting a place for a short time for a vacation versus living there for a while.

Exploring South Carolina at a butterfly release event and a real butterfly landed on me. I also happened to be wearing a butterfly shirt too!🦋 A literal symbol of change and metamorphosis.

In 2009, I went to college in-state at Fort Valley State University, which is only an hour away from my hometown. While I was a senior in college I studied abroad through a scholarship award in various Italian cities. After graduating from undergrad I’ve traveled to different U.S. cities and European cities and not speak the language, but to up and leave everything I know to go elsewhere has been exciting, scary, lonely, and fulfilling all at once. Living in a smaller city like Columbus, GA all my life things were in my comfort zone.

I am not bashing my hometown or the people there because it’s helped in shaping who I am and who I am becoming. In my opinion, sometimes certain cities lack certain industries or scenes for people of certain age brackets, and more or better opportunities sometimes exist elsewhere. Of course, if all you do is go home and to work and never do any activities outside of that or try to go places or participate in things that interest you then ANY city you’re in will be boring or easy to complain about.
There are pros and cons to anything in life, and so many creative, talented, smart individuals from smaller cities and towns leave because they may feel limited or want better for themselves or maybe they’re tired of running into the same people they had middle school math with at the grocery store or the same people running and doing the same things all the time.

The South Carolina State House

You get my drift. Overall moving so far has been beneficial for me and I would recommend anyone whoever has a good opportunity to move. I know it’s scary, but life is so much bigger than your town and you can always visit or move back. So many people live in regret, but you only get one life. Never forget or be ashamed of where you come from and as The Notorious B.I.G. said: “Stay far from timid, only make moves when your heart’s in it and live the phrase sky’s the limit.”

Exploring South Carolina back in September at The Jubilee Cultural Festival where I met author-actress, Karyn Parsons, who played “Hilary Banks” on the ‘90’s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
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We Will Always Love You!

Whitney Houston didn’t have to distract audiences with flamboyant sets, dance routines, and costumes she just sang. It’s very rare that a performer can just rely on vocals and personality to emotionally captivate an audience in song and film. Whitney, like lots of other people had her share of struggles, just displayed on camera. It’s bittersweet, because she was on a comeback. However, Whitney’s legacy will most definitely be her vocal range and ability to sing every genre from Gospel to Pop. People forget that “I Will Always Love You” was a country song, written and originally performed by country star, Dolly Parton and “I’m Every Woman” was originally performed by r&b diva, Chaka Khan.Whitney paid respect to other female vocalists, but her version of the song is what people of a certain age usually think of first.
I will always remember where I was when I found out about the deaths of Michael Jackson, Aaliyah, and now Whitney Houston. When I was little my mother use to play Whitney’s music on cassette tape in the car all the time! I think their impact is different for various people, but I grew up listening to their music, singing their music around the house, and watching them on award shows and movies in the 90s. For young black girls growing up in the 90s, we didn’t have “Princess and the Frog”. “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”; starring Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as “ The Fairy Godmother” was a “big deal”! Whitney Houston paved the way for other solo artists like Brandy, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, and Monica. There will never be another “Whitney Houston”, she will be forever missed by her family, friends, and fans.

Click here to listen to the Whitney playlist on Apple Music and below to listen on Spotify.

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#PoseFX Playlist

Songs from the show #PoseFX!!!

Click here for Apple Music and Tidal and below for Spotify.

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My thoughts on 30.

January 15th was my 30th Birthday! I feel blessed to share a birthday with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s Founders’ Day. I’m grateful to God for another year of life and for the lessons I’ve learned and am continuing to learn.

Check out www.anchor.fm/asiamber and other platforms to listen to the “As-I-Amber” podcast “30 on 30” episode and follow me on Instagram TV @asiamber, where I go more in depth about the life lessons I’ve learned so far. I never would’ve imagined turning 30, a milestone birthday, amid a global pandemic.

I want to be on an exotic beach chillin’ with my toes in the sand listening to the ocean waves crash. Instead of being on an island for my 30th Birthday, I was home chillin’ with a nice adult beverage, seafood, and a good book, and a movie counting my blessings.

The pandemic, being in quarantine, and life, in general, have taught me that things don’t always go our way and that sometimes we make plans, but God laughs.

It seems like yesterday I was a 16-year-old who just got her driver’s license and was on MySpace listening to the girl group, Danity Kane. Now, I’m an official adult that pays bills, has to wear contact/glasses in order to see far away clearly, yet still watches Disney Plus, needs a snack, and a nap to function. The young people on Tik-Tok would call me “old” and older adults call me “young.” I feel in between.

In my twenties, I had lots of adventures as well as ups and downs. I gained weight, lost friends, gained friends, and lost weight. I studied abroad and graduated from college, moved back home with my parents, then moved out of state to a city where I knew no one. I worked in photography, applied for numerous jobs, and now work in Corporate America. I traveled the world visiting New York City, Italy, Greece, London, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. I’ve also gone to numerous concerts seeing Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar, Janet Jackson, Solange, Jazmine Sullivan, Drake, Future, Migos, OutKast, Monica, Erykah Badu, and JoJo perform. I guess you can say I like music and live my life to the fullest.

My travels to Paris, Greece, London, & Italy.
At Beyoncé & Jay Z’s #OnTheRunII Concert in 2018.

I know it is 2021 and this is not an episode of Netflix’s “Bridgerton” set in the 1800s. Yet, depending on your culture or environment in some places when a woman hits her 20’s and early 30’s the majority of her peers in her age bracket have children and are getting married and if you’re not a mommy, fiancé, or wife by a certain age you’re looked at differently.

Currently as an unmarried thirty-year-old woman with no children I enjoy my freedom to pick up and go without having to consider anyone else, yet sometimes some people peculiarly look at me because of that. There is an unspoken, yet loud sound of the tick-tock of an accomplishment timer and biological clock. We are bombarded with various messages about getting older and what that means regarding fertility or relationship status.

Society tells us what we “should” be doing or accomplishing by a certain time frame. Then in this digital age, it is so easy to compare our lives to what others choose to display on social media and we think that we “should” have accomplished certain milestones by a certain age, and if not you’re somehow “behind” or a failure in life.

But, I’m here to remind you all and myself that God made you a unique individual. Everyone is displaying their highlight reel on social media, but you don’t always know their behind the scenes. Everyone’s life path is different and it does not make you better than or less than if you have achieved or experienced certain things more or less quickly on this journey of life.

Remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made. According to Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG) “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

I feel like a butterfly that has gone through metamorphosis during my 20s and is now breaking from the cocoon to take flight. I’m continuing to live my life like it’s golden and am excited for all the things that God has in store for me. Cheers to this new chapter of life!

Listen on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Quincy Jones #BlackMusicMonth

In honor of June being Black Music Month, Amber and radio legend, Ms. Queen Rasheeda Ali, discuss legendary music producer Mr. Quincy Jones. Click here to listen to the podcast episode.

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Girl Group 2020’s

Just a few songs from my favorite girl groups from this decade, the 2020’s. Click below to listen on Spotify and here for Apple Music, and Tidal.

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Generation NEXT

Amber and a special guest discuss Millennials and Gen-Z. Listen here on http://www.anchor.fm/asiamber. Also, available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Available on Spotify & Apple Podcasts
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Jay Z’s “American Gangster” album

I had the opportunity to write about two songs, “I Know” & “Blue Magic” off of Jay Z’s “American Gangster” album. Click here to read about it on As Told By Kia’s website.

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Beyoncè’s #Homecoming

Beyoncé’s #Homecoming film chronicles the singer’s 2018 Coachella music festival performance. Beyoncé was scheduled to perform at the 2017 Coachella music festival, but was pregnant with twins Rumi and Sir Carter, and had to postpone her performance to 2018. The Coachella music festival held in the California desert was way too expensive for my budget, so I was happy her performance was live-streamed on YouTube to watch for FREE! I was so hyped to be able to see an amazing performance from the comfort and air-conditioned atmosphere of home. I remember April of 2018 setting my alarm to wake me up so I could watch Beyoncè’s highly anticipated Coachella performance on YouTube. As soon as the drum line and band and dancers came out I screamed in excitement! Beyoncé’s epic two-hour 2018 Coachella performance had a live Black drum-line and many other band members, dancers, and even cameos from her husband Jay-Z, her sister Solange, and her Destiny’s Child group members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. One of my favorite parts was when Beyoncè and the band swag surfed and danced to O.T. Genesis’ “Everybody Mad”, and oh so much more! As an HBCU graduate and Beyoncè fan, I felt so proud and validated that she paid homage to Black college and band culture during her 2018 Coachella performance and she is financially giving back to HBCU’s!

I remember in high school some questioned my choice and looked down on me when I said I was going to a historically Black school for college. My college experience at Fort Valley State University gave me opportunities to travel the world from NYC to Italy and has helped to shape me into the person I am. I wanted to see more of the behind-the-scenes of Beyoncé’s iconic and legendary performance. I may be biased, but Beyoncé’s work ethic is phenomenal! I’ve been blessed to have seen her in concert four times and she gives her all on stage! Who else can sell out stadiums in seconds, make award-winning albums, make films, have a family, and go on a world tour all within a short time span?!?! With that being said don’t forget to watch ” HOMECOMING” on Netflix and listen to the “Homecoming” album as well as my “As-I-Amber” podcast episode available on Spotify, iTunes/Apple Podcasts and other podcast platforms.

 

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Chill Mix II

This RnB Chill Mix Playlist featuring a variety of newer and older artists is also available below on Spotify; on Apple Music (click here) and on Tidal (click here).

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Thirty-Something

January 15th was my Birthday! I feel blessed to share a birthday with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s Founders’ Day. I’m grateful to God for another year of life and for the lessons I’ve learned and am continuing to learn.

Check out www.anchor.fm/asiamber and other platforms to listen to the “As-I-Amber” podcast “30 on 30” episode from two years ago where I went more in depth about the life lessons I’ve learned so far and still learning. I never would’ve imagined back in 2021 entering my 30’s still in a global pandemic.

I wanted to be on a beach chillin’ with my toes in the sand listening to the ocean waves crash. Instead of being on an island for my winter birthday I chilled at home. The pandemic and life in general, have taught me that things don’t always go our way and that sometimes we make plans, but God laughs.

It seems like yesterday I was a 16-year-old who just got her driver’s license and was on MySpace listening to the girl group, Danity Kane. Now, I’m an official adult that pays bills, yet still watches Disney Plus, needs a snack, and a nap to function. The young people on Tik-Tok would call me “old” and older adults call me “young.” I feel in between.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.- Edith Wharton✨🪞💫

In my twenties, I had lots of adventures as well as ups and downs. I gained weight, lost friends, gained friends, and lost weight. I studied abroad and graduated from college, moved back home with my parents, then moved out of state to a city where I knew no one. I worked in photography, applied for numerous jobs, and now work in Corporate America. I traveled the world visiting New York City, Italy, Greece, London, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. I’ve also gone to numerous concerts seeing Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar, Janet Jackson, Solange, Jazmine Sullivan, Drake, Future, Migos, OutKast, Monica, Erykah Badu, and JoJo perform. I guess you can say I like music and live my life to the fullest.

My travels to Paris, Greece, London, & Italy.
At Beyoncé & Jay Z’s #OnTheRunII Concert in 2018.

I know it is 2023 and this is not an episode of Netflix’s “Bridgerton” set in the 1800s. Yet, depending on your culture or environment in some places when a woman hits her 20’s and early 30’s the majority of her peers in her age bracket have children and are getting married and if you’re not a mommy, fiancé, or wife by a certain age you’re looked at differently.

Currently as an unmarried thirty-something woman with no children I enjoy my freedom to pick up and go without having to consider anyone else, yet sometimes some people peculiarly look at me because of that. There is an unspoken, yet loud sound of the tick-tock of an accomplishment timer and biological clock. We are bombarded with various messages about getting older and what that means regarding fertility or relationship status.

Society tells us what we “should” be doing or accomplishing by a certain time frame. Then in this digital age, it is so easy to compare our lives to what others choose to display on social media and we think that we “should” have accomplished certain milestones by a certain age, and if not you’re somehow “behind” or a failure in life.

But, I’m here to remind you all and myself that God made you a unique individual. Everyone is displaying their highlight reel on social media, but you don’t always know their behind the scenes. Everyone’s life path is different and it does not make you better than or less than if you have achieved or experienced certain things more or less quickly on this journey of life.

Remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made. According to Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG) “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

I feel like a butterfly that has gone through metamorphosis during my 20s and is now breaking from the cocoon to take flight. I’m continuing to live my life like it’s golden and am excited for all the things that God has in store for me. Cheers to this new chapter of life!

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“Aaliyah” Album Revisited

Aaliyah at her album release signing at FYE Music Store. July 2001. Photo courtesy of fanpop.com

I often think about where triple threat singer, dancer, and actress, Aaliyah would be in 2023 if she were still alive. Even though it’s been twenty one years since her death and final album she is still so relevant. There’s no doubt about it that Aaliyah had a major impact on millennials and her legacy for us ’80’s and ’90’s babies is unforgettable. From her signature sleek and straight hair and swoop, shades, leather outfits, ombre hair, makeup, music videos and Tommy Hilfiger outfits, to her dancing and acting she was a standout and admired star whose influence can even be seen in various Pop and R&B artists today. Everyone from Normani, Tink, Drake, Jeezy, and Chris Brown have sampled her.

Back on July 7, 2001, I was just 10-years-old and excited about Aaliyah’s self-titled third album dropping. I use to watch 106 & Park with hosts Free and AJ on BET faithfully as a young tween and Aaliyah was on the show promoting her album. I also remember MTV had a show called “Diary” where they would go behind-the-scenes with certain artists and I couldn’t wait for Aaliyah’s episode to air.

  • The 106 & Park Aaliyah Interview is available to watch here)
  • The MTV Diary episode is currently available to watch here)

Anyway, I really wanted Aaliyah’s CD, but I remember my mom said that it was “too grown” for me to get. Little did we know it would be her final album and she would pass weeks later in a tragic plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for the sensual single “Rock the Boat.”

The inside of Aaliyah’s self-titled album.

I remember MTV News and the radio announced that the singer passed and I just couldn’t believe it. I was so hurt about the death of someone I had never even met. My Dad eventually purchased the CD for me and said it was a classic and would be a collectible and he was right. It took years, but Aaliyah’s musical catalog is now available on streaming sites. I’m not sure of the all the legalities or exact reasons why Blackground Records and Aaliyah’s Estate have issues when it comes to royalties etc., but at least younger and older generations can now listen and have access to her music.

My Aaliyah CD- Collection
My “Aaliyah” vinyl + album cover

I was re-listening to Aaliyah’s self-titled album through my 2023 adult ears and it just resonated and hit different! There are so many tracks in her musical catalog that could’ve been singles and sound like they came out recently instead of years ago. The self-titled genre bending album combined, Rock on tracks like “I Can Be” and “What If”, Flamenco on songs like “Read Between The Lines”, Pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop, with lead singles “We Need a Resolution” and “More Than A Woman”, and spoke of a young woman in her early 20’s singing about pleasure “Rock The Boat”, pain and abuse “Never No More” and “I Refuse”, relationships and life lessons and love on “Those Were The Days”, “Extra Smooth”, “U Got Nerve”, “I Care 4 U”and “Try Again”. That album template is now the norm, but was ground-breaking for a 20-something young woman in 2001 to combine different moods and genres. One line that always stuck out to me was the lyric “Speak your heart don’t bite your tongue. Don’t get it twisted. Don’t misuse it.”- Aaliyah “We Need a Resolution” feat. Timbaland. I feel like every track and lyric had a purpose or mood that was fitting.

One underrated track in my opinion was the electronic and futuristic sounding “LOOSE RAP”, which is the second track on Aaliyah’s self-titled album. Produced by Key Beats and written by the late Stephen “Static Major” Garrett, who also penned other songs in Aaliyah’s musical catalog, is a fusion of experimental synthesized beats, ad-libs, and echoes. “We got something for all the fools it ain’t just rhythm and blues.” Aaliyah declared that her musical sound and image were not just limited to an R&B music box that speaks of her unique sound, image, and artistry.

Back in 2001, Aaliyah was not only singing and dancing, but she started to branch out into different musical genres on her third album and acted in films such as “Queen of the Damned” and “Romeo Must Die.” Aaliyah and Static Major may have passed on, but their presence left a mark and the duo sure didn’t lose our attention in loose rap. Throughout the song Static Major and Aaliyah declare their annoyance, confidence, and competitive nature in various aspects of life, love, and the music and entertainment industry.

Back of the “Aaliyah” vinyl record

In the introduction, Aaliyah’s voice echoes “I’m sick and tired of the loose rap” while Static Major states, ”For the ’01 I know you can come better come better than that so you can kill all your loose rap.” On the Aaliyah: Behind the Scenes segment on the posthumous album and DVD “I Care 4 U” Aaliyah said that her name is Arabic “meaning the highest most exalted one.. the best and I really wanted that name to carry the project.” From the origins of her name to the album’s title, and the third verse on “loose rap”: ”If you just quit trying to compete, yeah, No telling what you could be, might even be doper than me…I doubt it.” Aaliyah addresses her adversaries and exudes a confidence and self-assuredness, talent, and an incomparable uniqueness to the point where her influence and impact are still present in music and fashion decades later.

Additionally, on the posthumous album and DVD “I Care 4 U” there is an “Aaliyah: Behind the Scenes” segment where Aaliyah gives her opinion on certain tracks off her third album. In regards to this particular song she stated, “I love it so much because if you listen to it this is how I listen to it how I take this song it tells three different stories and it’s just really about people come up to you with a whole lotta smack and weak rap and it’s like I don’t wanna hear any of your loose rap.” The first verse whether it be a guy or girl being a little bit jealous of you and you saying I know what you talk smack behind my back but I don’t care because I know you’re just speaking “loose rap.” The second verse is about a guy coming to me kickin’ game tryna be my guy and I’m like your game is a lil’ weak, but I might give you a chance even though you’re kicking loose rap, and the third verse speaks about my crew, Tim and everybody all of us and the music we make our creativity and people being a little bit jealous of that and really trying not to feel it but it’s okay because everything you say is just loose rap so it tells 3 different stories and I think it’s really just hot.” The song is one of those tracks that isn’t wrapped up in yesteryear. Twenty-one years later this song and the rest of the album still sounds current and wrapped and layered with synths that can ride the waves of time.

Me in my Aaliyah T-Shirt I got off Etsy.
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Christmas Jamz

Check out my Pop/Soul Christmas playlist on Spotify. Also, available on Apple Music click here and click here for Tidal. The playlist features songs from Destiny’s Child, *NSYNC, Mariah Carey, Donny Hathaway, and other artists.

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Drake and Migos Concert Review & Playlist

Grammy Award-winning rapper/actor, Aubrey “Drake” Graham, and Atlanta rap trio Migos had State Farm Arena lit up last night,  November 17, 2018 in Atlanta for night two of ”The Aubrey and Three Migos” tour. The show started around 7:30 pm with an opening act, which was Drake’s OVO Sound artist, Roy Woods who performed a few songs such as ”Get You Good”, ”Monday to Monday” and ”Drama”. I liked the vibe of the rap trio Migos! They have come a long way from their Mixtapes and although they have become more mainstream they still maintain authenticity. Migos consist of relatives, Takeoff, Offset, and Quavo. They were full of energy and zeal being in their home state of Georgia on the final leg of the tour. However, Migos didn’t get on stage until 9 p.m.! The trio performed hits like ”Bad and Bougie”, ”Stir Fry”, and ”Fight Night” and later on performed ”Walk It, Talk It” and “Versace” with Drake and the crowd went crazy!

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Drake came on stage around 10 pm.

The stage was set up like a 3D rectangle in the center of the arena, and each artist worked the different angles of the stage throughout the night’s performances so that all fans whether on the floor level to the nosebleed seats could see.

I liked that Drake kept the audiences attention by performing some snippets of his older music catalog. It has been ten years since Drake stopped acting on the Canadian teen drama ”Degrassi” and started rapping. Drake also performed songs of his newer album ”Scorpion” with songs like ”Nice For What”, ”Nonstop”, and ”Mob Ties.” Also, Drake had female dancers for songs like ”Controlla”, ”Work” and ”In My Feelings (KeKe Do You Love Me?)

When performing ”Don’t Matter to Me” which features Michael Jackson, Drake paid homage to the legendary, Michael Jackson by mixing in Jackson’s ”Rock with You”. In the middle of the show, a basketball goal was brought out on stage and an audience member was brought on stage to attempt a lucky half-court shot for $25,000, but the fan wasn’t so lucky when making his shots and did not win the money. However, Drake was kind and gave the fan an OVO Sound Basketball Jersey.

Drake also brought out special-guest and Atlanta native, Gucci Mane who performed his classic hit ”I Think I Love Her” and the audience went crazy! Migos also brought out Lil’ Yachty. Drake also performed ”Yes Indeed” and during the song a ”yellow Ferrari like Pikachu” literally came down from the ceiling and floated around the arena, which was cool.

This was my second Drake concert and you can see the evolution and growth he’s had as an artist. I enjoyed the way the songs flowed and transitioned and Drake and Migos interaction with the crowd. Drake also said that Atlanta, Georgia has a special place in his heart because he recorded a lot of music in the city and it was one of the first U.S. cities he toured when he was first starting out as an artist.

Drake also mentioned how night two of the concert in Atlanta had the loudest audience for the entire tour! Atlanta is the last stop for ”The Aubrey and Three Migos” tour and the last show is on Sunday, November 18, 2018. For more information check out http://www.ticketmaster.com or http://www.drakeofficial.com or follow the #AubreyandtheThreeMigos hashtag on social media.

Check out the Drake and Migos playlist here on Apple Music and Spotify.

 

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#OneMusicFest 2022 Review

The annual One Music Fest was held on October 8-9, 2022 in downtown Atlanta. I really enjoyed myself. This was my fifth time attending.

The As-I-Amber YouTube Channel
#OneMusicFest review.

It’s like Coachella meets Soul Train because the focus is primarily Hip Hop and R&B/Soul artists. Check out www.OneMusicFest.com for more info.

Ms. Lauryn Hill

This year’s headliner was Lauryn Hill and Jazmine Sullivan and a plethora of other artists on various stages such as DVSN, Ja Rule, Ashanti, Tank & The Bangas, Sean Paul, City Girls, Jeezy, Gucci Mane, Saucy Santana, Alex Isley, Lupe Fiasco and Chloe.

DVSN performing.

There were also food trucks, other vendors, sponsor tents, and cool backdrops for selfies. There was even an outdoor Roller Skating rink set up to skate if you desired.

Skating area
Tank and The Bangas

My favorite performances were from Lauryn Hill, Tye Tribbett, Sevyn Streeter, Alex Isley, and Jazmine Sullivan, and when The City Girls brought out surprise guest, Usher, to perform their latest single “Good Love”.

Usher & Yung Miami/Caresha from City Girls.

During Lauryn Hill’s performance of the song “To Zion” her son Zion came out on stage with his children too. It was beautiful. Lauryn Hill is a grandma yall! Wow.

Lauryn Hill’s son Zion and his children too.

Also, Jazmine Sullivan her background singers were phenomenal and Jazmine even opened up about her personal life. She shared that her mother is battling cancer right now and to comfort her everyone in the audience cheered for Jazmine’s mother by saying “We Love You.”

Jazmine Sullivan and her background singers.

Singer-songwriter, Sevyn Streeter, also put on a great performance and she and her background dancers looked great in orange.

Sevyn Streeter & her dancers!

Tye Tribbett’s high-energy Gospel performance was amazing too and really ushered in the presence of God.

Type Tribbett

BET’s Original 106 & Park hosts, Free & AJ, were hosts on one of the stages too.

I even got to meet singer-songwriter, Alex Isley. She was walking around after her performance and I walked up to her and asked for a photo. She was so kind and smelled good too. The funny thing is just a few weeks ago I wrote about her for Magnetic Magazine, (click to read)and then boom I met her!

Singer-songwriter, Alex Isley, and I.

There were thousands of people at the event and even Stacey Abrams’s campaign was there promoting others in Georgia to register to vote.

I felt as if I got my money’s worth seeing so many artists at the two-day event. Overall I enjoyed myself at One Music Fest and if you are a fan of R&B/Soul and Hip Hop I highly recommend going!

My friend Yasmine and I at #OneMusicFest
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