Today marks 26 years since Christopher “Biggie” Wallace passed. He had so many hits due to songs he sampled. “Juicy” is a sample of Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit”, “One More Chance” sampled The DeBarge’s “Stay With Me”, “Big Poppa” sampled The Isley Brothers “In Between The Sheets”, “Sky’s The Limit” sampled Bobby Caldwell’s “My Flame” and “Mo Money Mo Problems sampled Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out.” Click here to listen to the playlist below. Also, check out the articles I wrote for Magnetic Magazine click here. Also, available on Apple Music and below on Spotify.
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 International Women’s Day here’s a playlist featuring House Music from Black women.
Click below for Spotify and here for Apple Music and here for Tidal.
Melanated Rock Songs
I love all genres of music, and have created a playlist of Rock influenced songs from and inspired by Black artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz, Prince, and more!
Playlist available below on Spotify. Click here for Apple Music and click here for Tidal.
Aaliyah, Brandy, & Monica
Aaliyah, Brandy, and Monica albums are still in heavy rotation years later. It is still crazy because they were teenage solo stars making hits competing with grown folks on the R&B charts and their influence is still felt.
We hear the growth, maturity, and development in their voices and lyrical content. Check out the playlist consisting of all 3’s first 3 albums. Click here for Apple Music and Click here for Tidal
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.
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.
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.
Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Coldplay got in “formation” during the 2016 halftime show. Click here to watch.
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!
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!
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!
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).
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.
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.
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!
“Aaliyah” Album Revisited
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.