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Old School Playlist

Click here to listen on Apple Music and listen on Spotify by clicking the link below. Also available on Tidal.

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Freshman Year (HBCU) Advice

My classmates and I at graduation in 2013. I am standing on the far right.

In 2009, I graduated from a small private predominately white high school and in 2013 I graduated from a historically black college, Fort Valley State University. These two totally “different worlds” and school experiences have shaped who I am and who I am becoming. I wanted to share my knowledge of being a former student leader for freshman year students. Listen or watch the podcast below and check out the list of advice below. Do you have any advice you’d give a new college student?

Listen to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Anchor
Watch on The As-I-Amber Podcast now on YouTube

ADVICE FOR FRESHMAN YEAR:
1. Establish rules and communicate early on with your roommate(s). Y’all don’t have to be best friends, but you live together now so respect people’s things and have boundaries.
2. Please be yourself and talk to people you don’t already know.
3. If you’re feeling down and need someone to talk to go seek out your university’s infirmary and seek free counseling if available.
4. I know it’s a new environment, but try not to go home every weekend and try not to stay in your dorm all day.
5. If you have a car make sure to get a parking decal asap!
6. If you have a car make sure you’re not being used by others who won’t even give you gas money or say thank you for giving them a ride.
7. There’s pros and cons to everything. In my opinion if you’re not a morning person don’t take an 8 A.M. class or maybe you are a morning person, so take the class and get it over with and have the rest of the day to yourself.
8. Check out websites like Chegg and Google other book rental sites before going to the bookstore.
9. When dealing with advisors, professors, financial aid, etc. make a copy of everything they give you. Keep your receipts and emails!
10. Figure out what campus activities or clubs fit your personality.
11. If you are interested in a historically black fraternity or sorority do not tell everybody. Focus on your grades and community service.
12. Be careful about what you post on social media. There is life after college and future employers look at that.
13. If you have an online class or have to upload an assignment online upload it early because sometimes depending on where you are or what time of day it is the WiFi won’t be as strong.
14. If you don’t understand something or need extra help seek out a tutor and go to your professor during their office hours to ask questions or get clarity on something you didn’t understand during the lecture.
15. Try to call or text your parent(s) at least once every few weeks and not only when you need or want something.
16. Focus on your required classes before permanently choosing a major. So if you choose to change majors you won’t lose so many credits.
17. Talk to your academic advisor. This person is vital in helping you know what classes you need to take in order to graduate on time.
18. Go to class and try your best to sit up front and take notes.
19. Get a part time job. It’s nice to have money in your pockets and good to have work experience.
20. Take advantage of free things your campus may offer.
21. Invest in a good umbrella and get some rain boots because when it rains on campus at FVSU it poured down!
22. I know the cafeteria has various food options, but try to eat healthy when you can. Don’t forget to try to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
23. Get involved in the community and city your college is in.
24. Go to the library and study there.

25. Study Hard, but Play Hard. Enjoy your college years and cherish the moments!

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Gospel Samples in Hip Hop

Many secular rappers have sampled Gospel music in their songs. Here’s a playlist I curated of some of those featured songs. See below for Spotify and click here for Apple Music and here for Tidal Music.

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What moving away 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 7 months later and that by the end of the year I would be back in my home state 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. These past two years have 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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“Aaliyah” Album Revisited

I often think about where triple threat singer, dancer, and actress, Aaliyah would be in 2022 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)
Aaliyah at her album release signing at FYE Music Store. July 2001. Photo courtesy of fanpop.com

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

I was re-listening to Aaliyah’s self-titled album through my 2022 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.

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.

Aaliyah Interview on the I Care 4 U DVD

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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Usher

Some people on Twitter started a debate about which R&B singer is better? Chris Brown or Usher? In my opinion vocally Usher is the winner! He’s been a star since he was a teenager in the 90’s til now in 2021. Usher performed on stage with Michael Jackson and helped pave the way for other male R&B stars like Chris Brown. I think Chris Brown is a great performer and dancer, but recently I haven’t heard him sing without auto tune. Longevity, dance moves, and good music clearly makes Mr. Usher Raymond the winner! Click the link below to here the Usher Playlist on Spotify and click here for Apple Music and here for Tidal.

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Janet Jackson Jamz

In honor of #JanetJackson’s documentary on Lifetime, and her ESSENCE Fest performance I curated a playlist of some of her hit songs. Apple Music users click here for the playlist. Tidal users click here and Spotify users click below for the playlist and podcast episode of my concert review of Janet’s 2017 #StateoftheWorldTour.

Janet Jackson 2017 concert review.

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BET Awards 2022 #BlackMusicMonth

Listen to The As-I-Amber Podcast on Apple Music, Spotify, and other podcast platforms and watch below on YouTube.

photo source: BET
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Black Women in House Music

House music has been around for years, but often times the powerhouse voices singing the songs have been forgotten about. In honor of June being #BlackMusicMonth here’s a playlist featuring House Music from Black women.

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

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Father’s Day Playlist

This playlist is dedicated to all the fathers and father figures in our lives. Click below to listen on Spotify and click here to listen on Apple Music and Click here for Tidal music.