A Sophisticate is Hip Hop, R&B, and Soul

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"Being that I am the kinda girl that I am; Nobody can make me do what I don't want to; I can be myself a lot and I'm proud of what I got; So I'll never change for you." TLC from the song 'Hat 2 da Back'

Babygirl was her nickname. Brooklyn-born Aaliyah Dana Haughton (born January 16, 1979) started voice lessons shortly after she learned to talk. Determined to be a star, she signed a contract with Jive Records at the 12 and came to popular acclaim in 1994. On her way home from a music video shoot in 2001, a plane crash killed Aaliyah and eight members of her film crew. She was 22 years old at the time of her death.

According to her friends and the people she worked with, Aaliyah was an old soul. People described her personality as if she had already died and she had come back appreciating every moment of a life she had been given. She was quiet, beautiful, sort of a tomboy but still sexy. She made people laugh. She was kind and opened her heart to  everyone. Her memorial and the people who she touched in such a short amount of time was a credit to her personality. Not perfect, she still strove for success in a non-flashy and positive way. She was never negative in ways that most celebrities tend to in order to grab the spotlight.

When I heard the song and saw the video 'One in a Million' I took notice. I wanted to be this woman who was only a year older than me. How much did I want that self- assurance in myself. She  was amazing. What is that she had that I noticed? To this day, I still can't put my finger on it. Her voice  and the song had so much emotion and loved the confidence she showed when she  danced.

For me hip hop, soul, r&b a.k.a. rhythm and blues, and rap music have been  a source of motivation. Whenever I felt insecure, scared, unsure of myself, or angry I would put on 2Pac, TLC, or Aaliyah. Although, I grew up listening to classic rock, I was also exposed to Motown and the girl bands like The Crystals and The Shirellles. My dad always talked about  the moment when  he first heard 'I Want You Back' by the Jackson 5. The song 'Isn't she Lovely' by Stevie Wonder from the album 'Songs in the Key of Life' came out when I was born. My parents associated the joy found in the song 'Isn't she lovely' to the joy they felt upon my arrival.

Hip hop and rap music is confidence. The hip hop music taught me not just to be okay with being different but being proud of it. In each moment of a Rap song there is a sense of defiance but more importantly, a sense of resilience. That sense of resilience can also be found in each hip hop song. The music notes are like raindrops of emotion that emote from every melody and beat that continually repeats throughout each song.

Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, Vanessa Williams, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Donna Summer, Anita Baker, Fantasia, Beyonce, Rihanna, Ashanti, Missy Elliot, Karyn White, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan, Faith Evans, Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Lil Kim, and Niki Minaj to name a few.

These women have  the ability to make you hear the emotions they are feeling inside. Those syllables of emotion drip with every sound they sing. They expressed it so well that when listening you can see what they are feeling with your own eyes. Their pleasure and pain are there for anyone who is willing to listen. Sophistication in the 21st Century is showing people who are on the inside without fear and nothing but pride and confidence.

Aretha Franklin, Donna Summer, Mary J. Blige, and Alicia Keys were artists whose inner strength was and are reflected by the strength of their voice. A favorite song of mine is  'One' by Mary J. Blige and U2.  Who is able NOT to dance around the room when they hear 'Proud Mary' by Tina and Ike Turner?

The lyrics and music of Queen Latifah teaches a young girl how to be treated like a queen and not be treated as anything less. We as women are regal, proud, unbending, and unapologetic. Wasn't it Aretha Franklin who taught us about respect? And Donna Summer who reminded everyone how hard women work to earn the money to be able to live?

In the 21st Century, Sophistication is having something special inside that is heartfelt and powerful. Sophistication is having the strength and confidence to express it. A Sophisticate is hip hop, rhythm and blues, and soul because she has the best and most precious soul of them all ;D