Taking Over For the 99 and the 2000 – Destiny’s Child Edition

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This year marks the 16th anniversary of Destiny’s Child’s The Writing’s on the Wall. The album was a staple in the music archives of young girls across the nation; particularly those waiting to turn 16, or the ones that thought they were grown because they were 16.Ask any girl (and some guys) about this album and you can see them mentally travel to that very moment in their lives.

The album solidified Destiny’s Child as pop stars and was a handbook to navigating through relationships. Whether you were dealing with a broken heart, or were the one doing the heart breaking, there was a song for you to relate to. The Writing’s on the Wall broke all sophomore jinx expectations and will be remembered as one of those rare classics that could still be played in its entirety, never requiring you to skip a song.

By a show of hands, how many of ya’ll still live by these commandments:
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Thou Shall Not Hate
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Thou Shall Pay Bills

Thou Shall Confess
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Thou Shall Not Bug

Thou Shall Not Give Into Temptation
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Thou Shall Not Think You Got It Like That
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Thou Shall Not Leave Me Wondering

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Thou Shall Now When He’s Got To Go
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Thou Shall Move On To The Next
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Thou Shall Get Your Party On

Thou Shall Say My Name

Thou Shall Know She Can’t Love You

If Thou Can Wait, Then Thou Shall Stay
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Thou Shall Cherish Life
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The music, intros and videos were so on point, that fans didn’t even care that the group switched the lineup several times mid album promotion.

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All The Feels – The Harris Family Filming Together Again

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Season 5 of the Family Hustle premiered yesterday and there were a few obvious changes with the cast. In case you lived under a rock and may have missed the rumors of trouble in paradise (“but it’s okay as long as paradise is still there” TIP explains on the View) there was no way you could miss TIP and Tameka spending the entire season 4 (with the exception of a strained Thanksgiving Episode) filming separate adventures with the kids.  Fans haven’t felt so awkward and depressed since the 5th season of Martin. Lucky for us, the married couple was back to filming together this season giving all the PDA and pet names that we had grown to love from the endearing pair.

This was the reunion that I needed because:

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Black Love is not Dead

If you let the new black media tell the story, black love is dying a slow and painful death by the reality show episode. While we know “thou shalt not covet” simply because you NEVER know what’s behind door number one, it is quite refreshing to see a couple get through their tough times together. While they spent a year throwing low key shade at each other in addition to avoiding filming together; after addressing the issue within the first two minutes, it was as if it didn’t happen…..just the way it should be

“So last year was kinda rough for us, but we did what successful married couples do and we bounced back, stronger than ever.”  – TIP

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King Harris – If you have ever watched a Family Hustle episode, it is clear that King is a handful  that needs BOTH parents to help keep him in line we saw what happened with Mamaw.   If the Harris’ took their eyes off of him for one a minute to focus on something as traumatic as a divorce, I don’t know if the world could deal with King’s reign.

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With all the feels that their reunion gave me, I cannot forget to mention the life that Tiny brought to ride or die chicks across the nation when she went in the studio and recorded arguably the trillest anthem entitled WTFYGD (What the Fuck You Gon Do). It is rumored that Tiny got out of the entertainment industry due to TI’s request for him to take care of the family while she stayed home with the kids.  So I can only imagine his concern when he heard the song. If the title alone wasn’t clear enough about Tiny’s feelings, then the lyrics and video were.  While it was a pretty decent song, we never heard of an album, tour or follow up single to #WTFYGD. I’m glad TIP got the message.

I’m glad to see TIP putting more effort into saving his marriage than he did when trying to save Iggy Azelea’s dying career, as it is definitely time better spent.

Check out a svelte Domani, a blossoming Deyjah and the rest of the Family Hustle gang in the season 5 premier episode.

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We Are Mothers – A Special Kind With Special Needs Children

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God does some weird things sometimes. Things that make you go hmmm. When I woke up in recovery at Mt. Sinai hospital, a mother for the second time, I had no idea the ride I was headed on that landed in Autismville. I knew there was something different about my son at about 2 weeks. I thought it was because he was a boy. I knew all about girls. What I didn’t know about them at the time (1990) was that 1 in 150 boys of all nationalities, all walks of life, would end up with Autism. I say end up, because some are normal until age 2. But my son was always the same. I’m kinda glad about that. Although you CAN miss what you never had. I digress. Now 1 in 50-68 people, both genders included, are diagnosed on “the spectrum”. The spectrum, in layman’s terms, is a scale from severe & profound moving upward to near savant, or genius status functionally. The underlying behaviors, however, is the common thread woven into their lives, and make Autism what it is. Usually only the closest of family members are privy to witness the behaviors often enough to accept them. I’m not sure we understand, but we try, then tolerate…it’s a process.

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We are special caregivers. We are mothers. A special kind, with special needs children. So, there are a LOT more of us. There are mothers of children with physical and mental disabilities and a host of what are so called invisible disabilities because the affected person looks normal. I have met and connected with so many mom’s like me.
But this story is about the first mom I met who is a special needs mom. It was in that recovery room at Mt. Sinai on the west side of Chicago that we met again. Although my husband and I mostly grew up on the southside, and my Doctors office was there he worked at Mt. Sinai and both our children were born on the west side.
The recovery room was different from the first time I was there. I remember because it was dark with only enough room for a couple of gurneys. I was on one, and another mother who had just given birth was on the other. I remember thinking,
“It’s not happy in here. I want to be in a happy place! I just had a baby!” Just then, the other mother woke up. A nurse walked in, as if on cue from stage left.
“Ms. Thang?” She said approaching the other gurney. I’m thinking Ms. Thang? I know that name. (It was an unusual name, and I am respecting her privacy now. Many reading this know her)
“The doctor will be in to talk to you in a moment”.
“Is my baby alright? ”
(depends on what you mean by alright)
“Oh yes, you have a healthy baby boy”. The nurse said as she left.
Whew.
“Ms. Thang? I know you! You sat behind me alphabetically all through high school!”
“Right!” Small world! Both south siders having baby boys on the west side with the same doctor! Old high school chums! (Nothing is ever coincidental when God is in your life)
Enter the doctor. In a sweeping motion he pulls a curtain that separates sight, but not sound. Certainly not the sound of Ms. Thang ‘ s heart when it shattered as it hit the floor.
“Ms. Thang how old are you?”
“33”
“Hmmm.” Usually over 40….Ms Thang is there any history of downs syndrome on either side of your child’s family?”
“No”.
“Ms. Thang, your child has Downs syndrome” , I’m sorry. And then he unceremoniously left.
Ms. Thang was a silent weeper. She never said another word except yes, when I asked if she’d let me hold her hand and pray with her. I think God knew we were both mom’s of special needs children. Mom’s who on that day, had special needs. Hmmmmm.
I never saw or heard from my classmate again. But Happy Mother’s Day to Ms. Thang, and all the other special mom’s in my crew worldwide!

Love,

Angela Barnett Smith

The Ultimate 4/20 Film Twenty Years Later: Friday’s Anniversary Directors Cut

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Before there was Half Baked, Super Troopers, How High, Pineapple Express, Next Friday, or Friday After Next there was Friday! Words cannot express how excited I am about seeing the Friday’s 20th Anniversary Director’s Cut in theaters today. Why am I so geeked if I’ve seen this movie enough times to recite it from start to finish without a script, you ask? Well, since I was a bit too young to see it in theaters when it came out originally, I’ve only experienced one of my favorite movies on bootleg, TV or DVD and I deserve to see it in all its glory. If you’re one of those people that think this movie is strictly focused on weed and only for stoners, then I know for sure you have never seen this cinematic masterpiece and I suggest that you get in tune.

Friday is one of the best cult classics of the 90s and single handedly responsible for helping Ice Cube make his smooth transition from hardcore gangsta rapper to the dude who makes family movies, and we are forever in his debt for it. In addition to providing endless laughter, and a bomb ass soundtrack (that both you and your mama could enjoy), this movie gives strong messages that focus on relationships between friends, family and community without being overly cheesy. If you don’t believe me check out some of these memorable quotes and scenes of the film.

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“I told you to hook yourself up”

In addition to capturing the true essence of a sibling relationship between brother and sister, this quote can truly be tied to everyday life. Most of the time, you have to stop relying on others and get it yourself (whatever “IT” may be). Stop begging, be your own plug and hook yourself up!

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“Make it enough”

Almost everyone has had this situation with a parent. They ask you to purchase something and give you a bit less than what the items costs or somehow forgets to include the cost of taxes. In this case, you probably know that it’s better to save yourself the lecture on all they have done for you your entire life and just pay it because let’s face it, you probably owe them anyway.

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“That’s yo problem. Aint’ nobody playin’ but you. You walk up and down the street all day playin’. He aint’ playin’, you think he playin’ ’bout his money?”

As a good friend, it is often imperative to have those tough conversations like Craig often had to do with Smokey. You can’t just sit there and watch your friend let their life turn to shit and say nothing. Especially if they try to drag you down with them. In fact, it’s possible that you may need to have this conversation more than once on the same issue, but hey, that’s what friends are for.

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“I want you to get your ass up today, go out and look for a job. The word for today is “job”. J-O-B!”.

You cannot deny Pops’ parenting skills throughout this entire movie. He is old school and effective. If more parents locked their kids in the bathroom while they were taking a dump to explain that they need to get a job and get out of the house, I am CERTAIN we would see an increase in the job market.

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“You hit my sister like she was a damn man”

After you recover from the mental picture of Debo and Felicia in a “situationship” (which proves there is someone for everyone) you can begin to discuss this issue of domestic violence. Men shouldn’t hit women because as Craig so eloquently put it “that’s a female!” END OF STORY.

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“I look like Janet Jackson.”

Before there was the internet and Nev, the bait and switch of Catfishing began over the phone. Whether it was through the party line or through a friend, people have been over exaggerating their looks to get dates for years and it NEVER turns out well. Moral of the story ladies and gents, keep it real or keep it moving.

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“Weed is from the earth. God put this here for me and you. Take advantage man, take advantage.”

Self-explanatory

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“He gon cry in the car.”

Men DO cry, and it’s ok, especially when Granny is involved. Bravo to the writers to include this line and let black men contrary to popular belief, it is okay to cry.

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“I had to warn you too many times about my money, Smokey. You see, it’s the principle of the whole thing. There’s principalities in this.”

Big Worm had the game on lock way before Rihanna began demanding that bitches had her money. He taught me at a young age that “playing with someone’s money is like playing with their emotions” . I am also always appreciative to him for introducing the word “principalities” to my vocabulary at such a young age, even if it is in the wrong context.

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“You think you’re a man with that gun in your hand? …. I’m a man without it.”

Probably the best part in the movie as the entire scene is quote worthy. It has been 20 years and this scene is STILL extremely relevant.

I hope this piece of nostalgia is enough to make you want to go to the theater tonight to relieve some great memories. And if you’ve seen this movie in its entirety, read this post and still question its impact then you are too far gone and there is no hope for you!  Bye Felicia!

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Tupac On Ferguson 20 Years Ago – Still No Changes

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If it’s one thing that Mike Brown’s death and the chaos in Ferguson has taught us, is that hatred is real and institutional racism is alive. But of course this isn’t news, and we are all aware of how deep this ugly history lies. What struck me about this was how much this deepened our division as a society in 2014.  When the news was released that Darren Wilson would not be indicted for Brown’s murder, I remember being intrigued by the amount of quotes I saw circulating across all cultures on social media from rapper, Tupac Shakur. I realized how relevant the lyrics and interviews he spoke twenty years ago were at this time.

At the time of his death, Tupac was arguably one of the main forces that allowed rap music to crossover into mainstream through his ability to paint the picture of his reality through his words, which allowed those that look like him to identify and those that didn’t look like him to empathize. I’ve always admired his honesty and unique way of looking at social justice and how often he said “We” have to deal with it. I remember when the song “Changes” was released, and how it was almost voted as our graduation song.  I remember thinking at that moment, it was possible that we could be a part of the generation that could really make a change.

“I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world” –TUPAC SHAKUR

Tupac’s interpretation of  Bruce Hornsby’s 1986 hit “The Way it Is”, “Changes” was the first single released posthumously on his Greatest Hits album.  This song is an excellent example of Tupac’s work, as it includes much of his ideology. What made it unique was the theme of unity, on a larger scale through his attempts of reconciliation between black and white communities. In addition to providing his insight on police brutality and institutional racism, he does not shy from criticizing the black community as a whole as well. He tackled his anger with the youth and chastises his own experiences for failing to see the larger social implications of his actions, and thinking only about his own well-being at the expense of others. It was that type of balance within this specific song as well as his entire body of work that reignited the passion of critical thinking to our youth.

Those who see him as a pure criminal miss out on a great deal, as to those who see him as a flawless martyr. He was far from perfect, and by his own admittance he was vain and stubborn person who has made a lot of mistakes. He was, as we all are, a living contradiction. If his songs appear to diametrically oppose, that’s because he did, as we all do. We tend to fixate on the bad, and when an opportunity to stereotype pops up, we take it. It’s easier to look at the frustration and anger of these young men and call them bad people, rather to actually analyze it, and attempt to figure out what’s causing it. What makes Tupac the legend that he is, is the fact that he was willing to expose all sides of him, the good, and the bad. Those who ignore either side do themselves, and all young, black men; all young men; all men; a disservice.

When Shakur died twenty years ago at age 25, he was quickly elevated from star to legend. In this trajectory, he joined other celebrities who died in their prime.  While his words still have value, is there anyone going to attempt to take his place and help us implement the changes that we need to see to allow us to move forward and not backwards?

“Ultimately, it’s about self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-motivation on a community scale” –TUPAC SHAKUR

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Tips for Hosting Holiday Parties in a Small Space

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The task of hosting holiday celebrations should not be limited to homeowners. While this may prove to be challenging for renters, proper planning makes it possible for things to go smoothly. In addition to preparing as much of the meal ahead of time as possible, it is important to have small snacks on hand for the crowd before dinner. Below are a few tips that can help apartment renters prepare to host dinner for the holidays!

Delegate tasks

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A good hostess knows that delegating tasks is just as important as preparing meals. Consider having friends and family bring a dish as it may cut down on the amount of storage needed and post dinner cleanup. Be prepared to delegate the following items:

  • Drinks
  • Bread / rolls
  • Pie
  • Salad
  • Side dish
  • Appetizers

Finding space

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Having company in a small and cluttered home is a recipe for disaster. In order to have a large event in a small area, it is imperative to make the most of your space.

  • Rearrange furniture and look for new possibilities in each room. Use your largest space as the dining room or major seating area.
  • If your apartment has a nice view, think about arranging the seating near the window. A focal point such as a picture or mirror can make tight space appear larger.

Furniture

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  • Trying to find an extra table may be difficult if you are not accustomed to hosting large parties. Ask guests that do not cook to assist by lending useful furniture. Renting these items may also be an option.
  • Holiday dinners can work well if you make your bookshelves, counters and tables serve multiple purposes. A tall bookshelf would work well for serving drinks and appetizers, as well as a bar area. Trays can also be a wonderful way to serve extra guests, particularly if they are sitting on a comfortable couch or chair.

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When everyone is finally sitting around your table , enjoying their delicious meal you’ll be thankful your hard work paid off… and that holiday parties only come once a year!

Greatest Lyrics From Rihanna’s ‘Rated R’ Album That Are Still Relevant Today

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In 2009, post the infamous Chrihanna Lamborghini incident, Rihanna released her 4th album entitled “Rated R”. With 13 tracks and guest appearances that ranged from Young Jeezy, to Slash, to will.i.am; the singer recreated herself yet again with what Rolling Stone called “the album that “transformed her sound and made one of the best pop records of the year”. Rihanna traded in her pop tone that was so prevalent in “Good Girl Gone Bad” and showed just how bad she could be!

The album was sexy, edgy, and showed the world that this bad girl was here to stay. It let everyone know that they could keep their pity because this was a woman that wasn’t taking any shit from ANYONE. The album was a perfect as it mixed hip hop, rock, dancehall and Latin with memorable lyrics that you can still catch being subtweeted on timelines across all social networks!

“They can say whatever
I’ma do whatever
No pain is forever
Yup, you know this
Tougher than a lion
Ain’t no need in tryin’
I live where the sky ends
Yup, you know this” – Hard

 

How is this still relevant?: Rihanna is still kicking ass and taking names. The queen of resilience and self proclaimed bad gal still refuses to bow down to anyone. (No Beyhive shade.) Instagram, TLC, Karrueche, Breezy, NFL and Trollers have all experienced this first hand.

“Big shit talker
I never play the victim
I’d rather be a stalker” – Rockstar 101

How is this still relevant?: Cheers to Rihanna for encouraging women everywhere to ditch the damsel in distress act. However….I don’t think she meant it literally…because this chick right here has taken it to a whole new level.

“Sometimes it takes
A thousand tries
To win
The wait is ova” – Wait Your Turn

How is this still relevant?: No matter what level you were on in 2009, you’ve been motivated to reach another one at this point, and you still may need this reminder. It doesn’t matter how many times you’re down, you’re not out, so stop waiting and let it REIGN.

“And you can see my heart beating.
No, You can see it through my chest.

Said I’m terrified but I’m not leaving

Know that I must pass this test.
So, just pull my trigger” – Russian Roulette

How is this still relevant?: As you can tell this album is all about redemption. Seeing it through no matter what is standing on the other end. The more we grow through life, the more we realize the tests don’t stop, we just have to be persistent and build ourselves to pass them.

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“Who think they test me now

Run through your town
I shut it down
Brilliant, resilient
Fan mail from 27 millions” – Hard

How is this still Relevant? : Were you guys at the “Diamonds” world tour with me? Y’all still buying albums and iTunes singles? Ok, CASE CLOSED!

“Baby, if I don’t feel it
I ain’t faking
No, no” – Rude Boy

How is this still relevant?: These wise words of wisdom are for those still faking it all across the land both in and out of the bedroom! How else will people learn the real you if you’re still faking it?

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I can’t wait to hear the lyrics on the upcoming album. No matter what direction she decides to go in, one thing is for sure, The “never lyin’, truth teller Rihanna reign” will NEVER let up!