SZA’s “Ctrl” Empowers

SZA

SZA my dear, I love your music. Even though your album has been out for some time now, I must write about it. I fell in love with your surreal sound about a year ago when Spotify introduced us. At first, I was thrown off by your ethereal aura which resonates through much of your music, but it is also what caught me. I was instantly attached when I heard “Warm Winds.” The streaming service continues to keep this love strong when they throw in your tracks from time to time on my playlist. So of course, I feel I must dedicate time to addressing my feelings towards your latest project “Ctrl.”

SZA, you are phenomenal. Weird and honest. Beautiful and loving. An emotional warrior who is true to herself and owns her self-discovery through the highs and lows of relationships. It is the combination that I see and others see, that makes you so easy to vibe to. Thank you for going against the norm and charging forward in your truth. This expression of said truth is eminent in “Ctrl.” This songstress is rated R – raw, real and relatable. Her music stands a testament to what many of us want to say, but have difficulty in finding the words.

In her track “Normal Girl,” the beat has a trance like energy that intertwines with a hip hop sound. This track resonates with me through its message. Many want their parents to be proud of them. However, it is difficult to be yourself with the weighing feeling of your parents’ approval. Now to be approved by your lover’s folks too? Ugh! It’s tough to get a break.

I can hear the passion from her croons in “Broken Clocks.” I cannot see her, but I feel it in the way she sings. “Ohhhhhhh!” Yes girl, I hear you. Her story is truth; she sings of having an overwhelming job while dealing with a chummy dude. LIFE!!!!! Hahahaha. Many of us deal with situations in which we shouldn’t entertain our energy into. But yet, nothing is ever so simple to do, because you know, “You love me.”

SZA continues in tales of self-discovery through “Pretty Little Birds.” Poor aves, they got to deal with flying into the stupid window repeatedly. And yet, they still flap their little wings and fly towards the sky. “Pretty Little Girls, Pretty Little Girls, we hit the window a few times;” in truth we are very much like these feathered creatures in how we make mistakes but are dynamic in our strength to never give up. My soul wants to twirl to this track. Heavenly and full of flight, the collection of sounds can make one want to soar.

Ms. Twenty Something herself reveals her truth about the fear of love, not being where she thinks she should be and holding onto those who matter most to her heart in “20 Something.” We stumble through these times making mistakes repeatedly trying to figure how to do this adult thing right. May she survive the stormy waves of this period; when the waves are rough they always become calm again.

Another tune about birds comes through in “Doves in the Wind.” The song is lit. The end. Oh, and clearly, we control men with our babymaker “flowers.” With bars from Kendrick Lamar describing the wonders of our wombs and the hype, the smooth sound pounce into the ears making one enamored with excitement from the track. Sit back, bob your head and chill to this feature.

SZA packs in a gutsy punch of honesty in  “Supermodel.” We all want to be a supermodel to someone. Perfect skin, hair, butt, boobs, abs, lips or whatever it is that society is telling you must be excellent in to make you a match for that person. She goes in on this track letting it all pour out on how much she needed her man and how she gave him a gift of “dirt” after he left her for someone else.

“Why I can’t stay alone just by myself, wish I was comfortable just by myself, but I need you, I need you, I need you.”

Whoever is reading this, I want you to look in the mirror, look into your eyes and say “I need you.” There is no one out there that can do more for you than yourself. You can be happy with yourself. You can have peace by yourself. Whatever you are looking for in that other person is already residing right from within. Heaven knows, I used to feel like I needed to be someone’s supermodel, but I am super in just being myself; flaws and all. Know that you are too.

More tunes from this package of sound give me life through her journey of sharing a man in “The Weekend,” not-your-average girl anthem in “Drew Barrymore,” her bubbly wild tale “Love Galore and more. SZA makes us listen and warms the hidden parts of us afraid to live in our imperfect truth. This daring dive into her attempts for control decked out in 80s sounding nostalgia and hip hop grooves allow one to feel freer in accepting their own truth. For sure, I know I do. Thank you Queen for doing what you do best and never feel afraid to lose control.

Wild Dreams

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A princess slowly glides down a spiraling stairway. Her prince awaits her below. Everything around is a heavenly glow of white embracing the two in a majestic moment of warmth. The princess continues to make her way until she reaches a full on gaze of her savior. The man ready to capture her heart is an image of perfection at best. Donned out in an all white uniform, he takes her by the hand and leads her to the dance floor. Her heart is full she moves along gracefully with her prince. A lovely sound of classics delightfully drums out a tune enhancing the purity of the moment. After they dance, the prince guides her to a piano and places the soft sounds pattering out from above. She warms her arms around him and feels the uttermost pang of security.

But then she wakes up and realizes that it was all but a dream. Her heart breaks a little in the overwhelming feeling of truth that her prince charming was just an imagination cooked up from her wild mind.

It’s sometimes hard to come to terms with reality. A sweet pipe dream for romance can be the drive that pushes us to a beautiful happy ending. Being swept away by a prince charming or even an enchanting princess feels like the goal for romance. However, that’s all it is, just romance. We must remember that real love brings the good and the bad, the pain and the passion, the setbacks and the breakthroughs.

Fairy tales paint this vision of perfection that is both breath taking, but also disappointing. Embrace the truth in real love and let it mold you. For we are human beings and we are so beautifully flawed.

 

Spotless Mind and Eternal Sunshine By Jhene Aiko

Close your eyes and imagine floating in a body of water. The environment around you almost disappears as you take in the quintessential peace embodying all five of your senses. Keeping completely calm, the water gently moves you a bit and rocks you into utter serenity. As it expands beyond you, it eloquently makes its transitions from calm to stormy. The qualities of one our most precious resources has its strength in how remarkably beautiful yet unpredictable it can be.

Some of the same delicate features can be said about Jhene Aiko. At least according to her tranquil tune “Spotless Mind.” In this visual, Aiko shifts effortlessly to different personas: a painter, a skateboarder, a race car driver, a dominatrix, a gothic gamer, an indifferent hood chick and herself. Her unchanged boyfriend tries to keep up but grows weary of her constant transitions. The lyrics match the dynamic of the video in how her changes make it difficult for her to stay settled. Like the transient nature of the sea, Aiko delightfully portrays it well in this video. The melody just soothes my soul; it’s the perfect remedy after a long day. Wander with Aiko below.

Right off the artistic presses, Aiko has a more fresh video out now called “Eternal Sunshine.” Just released yesterday, this more reflective and somber tune goes back to the memories Aiko has had with someone special she unfortunately lost. The video greatly paints a picture of the dire moments of what must happen to the soul once it leaves its body; cherish-able memories and slow ascension into the immensity above. Take a moment to reflect in peace to this beautiful melody below. I hope you enjoy this phenomenal package of self reflection and harmony.

 

 

 

Hiding Behind Pain: Karrueche Tran Opens Up On Own

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“I knew, but I didn’t want to believe it.”- K. Tran

Raise your hand if you’ve heard or have said this before. I know I can’t see you, but I’m positive many of you reading this right now are raising your hands (Or at least raised your hand in your head). It’s a bitter truth many people deal with. They try to hide from the unmistakable, ugly reality grinning at them from ear to ear whenever someone hurts them. They try to shake it off and pretend like the chip on their shoulder didn’t just grow to enormous proportions. But by pretending what someone did to you doesn’t hurt you is only making the problem worse.

“What about you would draw a damaged man into your life?” – Iyanla Vanzant

Karrueche Tran is one clear example of a scorn woman who in the past has shook off the truth. Her back and forth relationship with Chris Brown has been in the gossip headlines and social media convos for years. After discovering through social media that her boyfriend allegedly has a nine-month year old child with another woman, Tran discussed the betrayal and her reaction to it on Iyanla Vanzant’s: Fix My Life on OWN. The highly anticipated interview showcased the famous tough love approach Vanzant took to dig into the depths of how Tran feels and how she can rise up from her pain. In some ways, I believe we all behave the way she did in healing. We tell ourselves “I’m OK” when clearly we’re not. The only way to get better is to acknowledge when you’re sick. I truly hope Tran does not go back to that sorry excuse for a man (incredibly talented artist, but still……) and that she finds positive growth from this harrowing experience.

 

 

 

 

Sam Smith – Lay Me Down

Only a few artists can make a person step deep down into the pits of their soul and pull out the emotions they tried so desperately to keep away. Sometimes you don’t expect it. Of course when you hear a talented artist, you know they will pull off an exceptional performance. But whether they have you a little misty or tears spilling down your face like the Niagara Falls, the music brings forth a special piece of your heart after just a few minutes.

Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down” is definitely one of those soul shaking tracks. The video is a beautiful tragedy of a funeral of his beloved. Watching the unique sadness transform into a jovial memory can suck one into the realistic visual. And Smith’s evocative vocals can stir emotions out of any person marked with indifference. The first few chants of the chorus immediately made me feel the sullen feelings of missing someone I love dearly. I’m sure it can do the same for you. Feel the effects for yourself below.

“I Bet” by Ciara

It’s the “thinking out loud” moment many of us experience or in some ways may hope to experience. The jerk who treated you like the dirt under his/her finger nails has come crawling back. You’re in a brand new relationship where you’re immersed with what love should feel like. Affection is no longer a desire but a daily routine. Simple things like a phone call a few times a day and support to do well at work are a part of the norm instead of a distant dream. Now that life has become blissful, the storm cloud wants back in. Don’t get me wrong, you want to tell the a**hole to kick rocks. But for some stupid reason, your heart always has compassion and even love for this person who was once your whole world.

The lovely Ciara brings us back to this #smh situation in “I Bet.” Starting off with a Harry Potter like themed music box playing in the background, Ciara elegantly sings her tale over the low tempo beat. She skillfully combines a classy form of sexy with her graceful ballet moves. The fetal positions layered with her flowing outfits and honest words make for a quietly powerful track. “I Bet” reminds us of why it’s sometimes best to move on and leave the trash in the past.

FYI: Jermaine Dupri has accused Ciara of ripping off Usher’s “You Got It Bad” single from 2001 which he produced. Agree? Voice your opinion below.

The Last Page

 

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There’s this relationship I have. It’s more special than I ever thought it would be. It’s one of the most powerful connections I’ve had in my life. I’ve grown so much from being just a naive girl to a woman thirsty for understanding and growth. This special union has gotten me through the tough hurdles of life and even through the grim days of nothingness.

Unfortunately, this relationship is coming to an end. It’s something I cannot control. There’s nothing that can be done to stop this. But the deep journey I’ve had with my journal is over.

A great gift from an incredible woman who I interned for at SUNY Plattsburgh, this book has carried me through it all during the years. It was my literal void to express my deepest thoughts, my plans for the future, even notes from work meetings. It was the chronicle of everything Tiffany; or at least most of me. I even have blueprints of how the Heartbeat Life would be created within in its pages.

I’ve had journals before, but this one in particular is genuine proof of my growth. I’m excited to start another one, but I will always treasure this one. Goodbye to my editorial recollections of life in this book and hello to the memories of it all as well as the start of a new journal journey.

Happy Valentine’s Day by the way! Whether you’re single or in a relationship, I’ll stand by my belief that the most important relationship you can have is with yourself. Stay happy, safe and peaceful on this day. ❤