I’ve been wanting to write this since it first came out, but am finally coming through with my words. I truly hope by now you guys know how incredible Normani is. She is a sweeping force of talent and we are all happily taking notice. I am hype riding her latest wave that is ‘Motivation.’ The song solo without the video is drenched with elation and strong vibes. Her smooth voice compiled with the upbeat rhythm send definite sensations of euphoria throughout the mind. But then the video….YES!!! Pure nostalgia radiates in each scene from the young Normani watching ‘106 and Park’, to her 1996 graffiti styled outfit, to her memorable dancing in the rain shot. This young lady also has an elegant package of athletic ability from her splits, twerking and flips. I was definitely impressed. Oh and she danced in the rain in heels; She definitely came through with her fantastic ability to amaze. Please if you are not part of the 36 million views this video has caught since it premiered on YouTube, check it out below or run to the channel right now to get your dose of “Motivation.”
The summer may bring a combination of sweltering heat, pesky mosquitoes and hot garbage stench in the air with it’s putrid mask that suffocates the masses, (Yea, I really can’t stand the smell. Lol), but this season also brings an array of events and activities for our active minds to go wild in enthusiastic galore. Yesssss, I love the freedom the warmer weather and months carry. Beach days, lounging by the pool, and cool nights on a rooftop are some of the amazing wonders about this time of year. One thing I definitely enjoy are the concerts. Hearing music float in the air as you watch one of your favorite or a new pleasure perform is always magic. Last week, I was enamored by the sensational Yuna. Spotify put me on to this artist years ago and ever since, I couldn’t let go of her sound. Her music is so pleasant, down to earth and fun. It was a gift to my spirit to hear her live last week at Sony Hall here in NYC. She has such a humbling and filling presence that it just moved me the entire time. You could tell the crowd was enchanted by her aura. She performed some favorites like “Used to Love You,” “Crush , and “Pink Youth.” It was amazing!
Please do yourself a favor and check out her latest album Rouge. This project has a funky, lively, cool vibe to it that’s destined to move the spirit. Meaning red in French, Rouge possesses a fiery energy that lifts the senses into a youthful frenzy of carefree moments in each tune. Yuna’s voice captivates the ears as it playfully glides through each piece majestically.
“Black Marquee” is definitely a time machine run to the 70s from the funkadelic charms of the rhythm and Yuna’s crisp vocals. This one has my body attempting to recreate the moves of decades ago from it’s free and fun uptempo sound. Another favorite of mine,”Like,” has such a dope message about a girl who avoids the pressures of drinking, smoking or showing her skin but still enjoys being herself. The tune also brings attention to the toxic nature of social media. Yuna and rapper Kyle manage to keep me bopping my head while contemplating the nonsense of social media and people’s judgement. However, my favorite from this musical creation is “Forevermore.” The fast paced, flare of sound embedded with her natural home grown flavor entices me continuously. The unique, repetitive, yet unpredictable changes of the beat flow together and grow like a flame beautifully harmonizing with Yuna’s enchanting vocals. This song mesmerizes and keeps me wanting to come back for more.
Rouge is an eclectic combination of sound that delightfully captivates the vivaciousness of youth and being yourself. It is a delectable gift to the ears that one should give to themselves. I was so pleased to provide myself with the honor of being in this incredible artist’s presence last week. The wonders of listening to an artist live is an embodiment of self care in how it enhances the feel good vibes bubbling from within. I’m pleased that these months bring more opportunity to take in the musical sensation of summer concerts. Listening and experiencing Yuna was definitely the seasonal package I was ready for.
I’ve always been into crystals. Well not forever but definitely within the past decade. In a way, maybe it’s been a part of me for longer. This interest went from simply collecting stones to reading about crystal energy and chakras to walking around with crystals to wearing crystal jewelry to creating them. I went to this amazing wire ring making class a year and a half ago. I made one and then two and then three and kept going. My spirit wouldn’t let me stop. My energy went into making crystal rings and here I am today. I created a brand called Tiffy Star Gems. I’ve been making rings for almost a year now and I love it.
My buddy Mike, incredible rapper/designer/sound engineer/dope friend, and I took over the streets of Soho and Coney Island for some photos. Check out his awesome Fenix sneaker collection and my latest line of Phoenix jewelry below.
These rings were made with citrine, malachite, lapiz lazuli and agate wrapped in gold aluminum. I also made some aluminum gold hoop earrings with citrine and agate stones and an aluminum wrapped tiger eye necklace. I love wrapping rings, have fun wearing them, and love expressing the different energy and meaning from each piece. It was such a blast doing this and I will be continuing in this journey.
Let me know what you think about the jewelry or if you would like to purchase any. Feel free to check out Tiffy Star Gems page. Also definitely be sure to check out the homie Mike Wilson. We’ve featured this down to Earth, conscious rapper before; you’ll be sure to love his tunes. Peace and I hope you all are following your dreams. It’s important to let your energy flow to your calling. As I grow each day, I’m slowly evolving into the person I was always meant to be. This is another beautiful part of that journey. I hope you’re becoming your beautiful selves as well.
When I get home, I take off my boots or sneakers at the front door and I leave them there. The day usually still weighs heavy on my mind. I’m annoyed at this client that cancelled yet again. I’m frustrated about a significant other’s actions or inaction. I’m still coming down from the crazy driver who cut me off on the highway; they almost took me out of my character. Nah, they definitely did when I cussed them out under my breathe as they drove off. Just not bad enough for me to go all Fast and Furious on them and pursue them. My day melts away however when I enter my room and I put on my choice of entertainment for the night – Netflix, YouTube, CW, or VH1. The incense sticks are pulled from their hiding place and then lit with the limitless power of fire. Then this stick is placed on a mantel for it to consume my space with an earthy scent of sage or frankincense. Serenity slides into my core emboldening my spirit and making it feel easy to be at my center of rehabilitation called home.
Solange’s latest installment of sound “When I Get Home” definitely signifies these words from the dreamlike, transitional nature that it embodies. This black queen has enchanted my ears over the years with her quirky, fun and down to earth tunes. I was blown away when I first heard her previous project “A Seat at the Table.” She eloquently empowered our voices through her own with hits like “Don’t Touch My Hair,” “Cranes in the Sky,” and “F.U.B.U.” When tuning into this project, I imagine myself lying afloat, drifting off into one mastery to the next, each having its own unique instrumental and lyrical flair which evoke a myriad of emotions. This artist epitomizes the beauty, strength, vulnerability and the fight of the resounding force of being a black woman. Whether it’s peace, simplicity, twerking, or just vibing out, this album carries it all.
It’s tough not to do a little slow twerk or wine when “Binz” comes on. The quick patter, patter of the drums puts your mood at ease and ready to embrace the rhythm with it’s fast tempo melody. Solange’s lovely harmonies are also a delicate touch to the light track. Your ear drums will take in a “Yes Sis” mood as you allow the sound to take over.
My mind kind of flashes into this imaginary dance scene when I listen to “Dreams.” The slow, low tempo track makes me think of a pair of dancers gracefully gliding across the floor with arms outstretched and their faces plastered with stoic yet focused expressions; their fluid movements integrating together in simple harmony. Solange’s vocals portray the mystic flow of a whimsical presence that playfully charm the senses into a thoughtful, pleasant place.
“Almeda” carries forth a trippy, playful like beat throughout. The name portraying as an ode to her hometown in Houston, Texas, (which also means ambition in Latin), Solange pays tribute to the components of the versatile and resilient nature of black excellence. She casually floats in and out of the beat playing along lyrically with Playboi Carti as they both uplift the physical aspects of the melanin experience. In truth, you cannot break the spirit of being black, “Not even in that Florida Water.”
Even if I’m not moving towards the floor, I definitely want to when my ears perk up to “Stay Flo.” My face muscles go from calm to gangsta desiring to mean grill in an involuntary pleasure when listening to this track. My limbs then work to move in a twerk like motion due to the light, fun, upbeat, but low tempo energy manifested in “Stay Flo.” (No lie, I literally just got up to dance. When the rhythm calls, it calls.)
This whole album is a transcendent expression of being free to dance, love, be inspired and woke to the beauty that is melanin. “When I Get Home” is an excellent tribute to the experience of letting loose and embracing the soothing or turn up nature that is embodied when you are in the presence of your own space. Have fun and embrace this beautiful affair to your internal core when listening in to this production.
Three out of seven of my favorite crystal rings. Made each one myself.
So I was thinking it might be fun to write a reaction post to this drama brewing up between Princess Nokia and Ariana Grande. I got a little annoyed seeing all the hate daggers people were throwing at Princess Nokia when she threw some hints that Ariana stole her sound in her latest installment “7 Rings.” I was watching one of my favorite YouTuber’s Empressive’s channel. She has some incredible music documentaries and celebrity tea that could rival shows like UnSung. (Even just watched her documentary on JoJo) In this video, she brought up the controversy behind the fact that Ariana’s new hit sounded a bit too familiar. The beat was accused of being a bit too reflective of several artists including Soulja Boy’s ‘Pretty Boy Swag’ and 2 Chainz ‘Spend It.’ In Empressive’s video, Princess Nokia spilled her two cents on the track claiming that Grande’s track seemed “familiar” and “sounds about white.”
While watching the video, I scrolled down to the comments (normal unbreakable habit when watching YouTube videos) and found Ariana stans dragging Princess Nokia for her truth. It was kind of sad. As a fan, I cringed every time I saw someone call her Princess Flip Phone……Smh…… The savagery was difficult to take in. Some commenters also confronted her about her own similar sounds in her track ‘Orange Blossom’ and compared it to another dope somewhat underground artist that I love Kali Uchi’s ‘Honey Baby.’
My disgust at the harsh comments and thirst for musical knowledge thrust me into an investigation to see if any of the allegations being made against Ariana Grande and Princess Nokia are true. I first looked into the accusations against ‘Orange Blossom.’ This track has an ultra chill, lullaby type vibe that carries on the flow throughout. The video of Princess Nokia enjoying Coney Island’s amusement park is a perfect compilation of the feel good mood carried on in the melody. In her music, I always love how versatile and different Princess Nokia is. She’s chill, but fiesty, woke by silly. I love the collective vibe that she gives.
Only a small snippet of this choice track compares to the also delectable sounds of Kali Uchi’s ‘Honey Baby.’ The way Kali Uchis sings in a sort of lullaby way would make one think that Princess Nokia may have taken some sort of inspiration from the track. However, Kali’s is a bit more slower and even has a slower Crystal Water’s ‘Gypsy Woman‘ type beat placed in. Plus, this part is literally only 30 seconds of the song. The rest of ‘Honey Baby’ has two transitions that goes from a cruising melody to a psychedelic fast paced trip. The two songs are very different. Both artists are hella dope. People need to stop with the drama.
However, Ariana Grande’s song ‘7 Rings’ does sound much more like Princess Nokia’s ‘Mine.’ My investigation took me further by listening in depth to the Ariana track. She starts off in her own rendition of Julie Andrews ‘My Favorite Things‘ singing quite similarly to the Sound of Music star throughout the song, but doused with a hip hop/pop flair. The theme sticks to the starlet boasting about her being able to get what she wants with her own money and flossing with her girls. The song is a fun homage to being proud of what you can earn with your hard earned cash. Yet, I do hear other inspirations from other artists like how poppin’ her gloss is (Lil Mama) and how she just bought her hair (Princess Nokia).
Speaking of Nokia, ‘Mine‘ is a dope homage to the hairstyles of women of color. “It’s mine, I bought it. It’s mine, I bought it,” repeats the chorus. The song flows hard and heavy requesting ‘certain people’ not to touch the hair of a brown or black person and embraces the many dynamic wears, whether weave, wig or natural, of how we shape our hair. It’s funny because both sounds do have a bit of similarity to ‘Pretty Boy Swag‘ from Soulja Boy, but not as much in my opinion.
Each of these songs possess their own unique dosage of resonance injected into them. However, each of them sound like a piece from someone else’s art. From the beginning of time, ideas and thoughts have been created but also seen in new and exciting ways. People love to say that nothing is original anymore. But with so much incredible findings being discovered already, it’s quite difficult to be completely innovative. Every idea is twisted and reformed from another one. Maybe Ariana is just another artist reforming old ideas and making them into her own. Besides, each of these songs sound versatile and have their own magnetic flair that attracts a variety of souls to their tune. I think that’s the true beauty of what they choose to give out to the world.
BTW, I just checked out this Genius video that finds more influences including Beyonce from Grande’s ‘7 Rings’ video. What other music influences to you see?
I just randomly wrote a poem. He he. I think it needs more work, but I might share it some day when I feel the need to. There is something else I feel I must share. It’s just been on my mind lately. The other day, I met a woman who was sitting by the pier. She decided to talk to me and asked me why I was there. She remarked that we both had our journals out and were writing. She asked me what brought me to the pier. She said that we don’t talk to each other enough (As black women or women in general). She was a stranger in the beginning, but during our talk, she became a mentor, a teacher and a fellow sister in my journey of self-discovery.
At times, I question the decisions and the direction I have made in own life. I am happy to have my MSW and to be closer to becoming a licensed social worker. I am glad to have pursued my creative endeavors by still writing at times and starting out with making jewelry. (Which I need to post more on here) I have joy in partaking in fun filled activities either by myself or with others to make my life that much more enriching. However, there are moments when I go down that dark hallway of my mind and question the choices that I have made.
I am starting to realize that the way things are manifesting in my life is exactly what I always wanted; I must push myself more and have confidence in my decisions. I must learn not to let the naysayers, even those close to you, tear down the strength behind my choices. God or the Universe will take care of me; always.
The higher power above will take care of you too. You will take care of you. The path and the choices that we make define our lives. We must believe in ourselves more and stop comparing or allowing the negativity of others to take us down. You know why you did what you did; don’t regret it. Even if it’s not working out in your favor yet, it will. Or it will be an important lesson for you in your journey to success if it does not work out. This is the road to who we are. The mistakes, the wrong turns or the right ones lead us to who we have always been.
In this journey that we take, it is also incredibly important to take time to self-reflect and discover who we are. There is something that I am starting to notice more, but I also see that it is quite disturbing in society. We put so much emphasis in getting these successful careers so that we can make a lot of money. The goal has always been to get a high paying job, get the house, get the car and you will be successful; you will be happy. However, I cannot help but notice some famous, rich people who appear to be quite happy in accomplishing all of this on the surface, but in truth are hiding behind their success. Big time celebrities make excessive amounts of money, travel the world and have the adoration of millions of fans, but are still unhappy. Many of them strive so much to be successful for objects but may not be successful with self. So many of them still have the same internal issues or worse than the rest of us. For some of them, it may be heightened because of all the energy they collect from users, naysayers, or any other negative forces they take in from those around.
My point is, why is it that we do not strive to know ourselves? Why is it embedded in us to sacrifice ourselves for these material things instead of saving time for ourselves as well? I mean it’s not wrong to want things and to work hard for them. But why is it OK to put in almost all your energy into gaining objects instead of gaining experiences or positivity from others? We could be uplifted from each other. We could be uplifted by our journeys in self-discovery. The concept of self-care is a huge theme in the caring profession since so much of our energy is utilized by giving to others. But the same can be done from other careers. It is so essential for us to know who we are and to take the time to do so. We tend to lose who we are and become mindless robots for the green. The biggest treasure out there is becoming who you are as a person and sharing that with others. When we empathize and work together as a society, we evolve.
Going back to the conversation with my fellow sister, she said she was relearning herself now that her children are out of the nest. She had her kids young and was rediscovering what she wanted to do with her life after having a rewarding career as a social worker. This queen was taking the time to get to know herself and through her words, she helped me. She had me realize how important it is to take the time to know who you are and to talk to one another. So much can happen with just a smile or a few words. We are so powerful in our own unique ways. We all know who we are at birth, but we must find the tools along the way back to ourselves; choice words she quoted from the outstanding soulstress Erykah Badu. Stay true to yourself and work on you, it is the most important goal you can have. Without it, nothing else matters.
Below, enjoy some sounds from the spiritual, neo-soul queen below.
It’s crazy; my hair really has a mind of its own. I mean seriously; this summer I learned that I don’t know what it will do. It went from purple to blonde.
When I went to the salon to get it done, I was doing something so much more drastic than anything I have done to my hair. Well I did cut it in a mo-hawk style and dyed it red last year. But purple was a different direction for me. People dye their hair red all the time. But purple…not so much. When I saw the final result, I fell in love with it. The color was so different but so me. And I was able to embrace it at an epic area of the season when I traveled with my bestie to New Orleans. It did me well the rest of July too. I came to own the style.
However, during August either after a wash day or spending more time in the sun, it started to change. My vibrant violet was becoming a mixture of pink, purple and blonde. The color was no longer the same. I learned that you are not supposed to wash your hair with warm or hot water even though I did try to wash my hair with mostly cold. Still, I didn’t understand what was happening. It was like every day it was a different color. Even now, I don’t know what to expect. Some people think I dyed my hair again.
But I’m starting to get more used to it. I cut the sides a few weeks ago and now I think it’s coming along even more. My hair in some ways is a representation of myself. Or at least for what I want to accomplish from within. These kinks represent change. It is something happening inside of me. Every moment, I must make a push to elevate myself even more. I’ll admit, I spend a lot of time being stagnant and watching Netflix or Youtube. Ha ha. But whenever I leave the house or interact with others, it is always a chance for me to be a better version of myself. Even if it’s just a little. My hair reflects the ever-evolving fire inside of me that is in constant motion. Now I wonder what change my hair will go through next?
See changes below.