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#FridayThe13th: Dominican Superstitions, Rituals & Spells

Salt? Elephants? Money? Take notes.

Magic, superstition, and religious beliefs are woven into the very fabric of Dominican culture and it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins. It was so normalized, that in my household, no one batted an eye whenever anyone mentioned spirits or witches. Not in a puritanical, fearful way or dripping in skepticism, but with the matter-of-fact tone of someone who had been raised to see magic, wonder, and God everywhere.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Friday the 13th (and as it turns out Tuesday the 13th) would hold some special significance for those of us who believe in magic. It is a day where spells, potions, and prayers increase in potency—even more if the day coincides with a full moon.

So on this day, while a lot of folks will be seeking out local brujos and brujas to read their futures at the bottom of a coffee cup, make love spells, and curse their enemies, I thought I would take the time to talk about 13 of my favourite Dominican superstitions, rituals, and spells!

Coffee is a big deal for most Dominicans. It’s the first thing we brew in the morning and a visit to a Dominican home will most likely prompt offerings of a cafecito. Some cultures read your future from tea leaves, but Dominican brujas do so with the coffee grinds scattered on the bottom of your cup. One of my favourite superstitions also involves coffee: if you drink your coffee standing up, your plans for the day won’t come to fruition. It’s a daily reminder to take a moment, relax, and be present in the moment.

When I was a child I longed for the kinds of rainy days where the sun shined through the rain drops. I lived for the moment my mother would pause, look up at the sky and say “se está casando una bruja”—or a witch is getting married. It never failed to give me goosebumps. Now, whenever this happens, I too, look up at the sky, say the words and send a little prayer into the sky wishing a lifetime of happiness for the brujita who has found her media naranja. Another superstition around rain is based off of a Spanish language rhyme: “Si te cae el primer aguacero de mayo tendrás buena suerte por todo el año.” Which means if you get caught in the first rain of May you’ll have good luck for all of the year.

Aloe vera plants abound in Dominican gardens, aside from being great medicinally it also has magical properties. Folks say that hanging an aloe vera plant over or behind your door wards away bad energies. Some say that if the plant flourishes, good things will come to you, while others say that if it withers there is a lot of negativity afoot. A variation of this is to hang bread over the door which will ensure that food will never be scarce.

Though many of the spells and rituals mentioned in this post are meant to repel evil, here’s one that is meant to usher in good fortune. If you place elephant figurines or statues facing away from the front door in odd numbers, it will bring good luck for all of the inhabitants of the house.

Bad energy or the evil eye is something a lot of us worry about. And besides hanging aloe over your door, some folks go to a brujo to make them a resguardo which is a protection against the evil eye and any spells someone might try to cast over you. Sometimes its a small package usually wrapped in red paper or cloth which contains ingredients known only to the brujo and which the carrier is instructed to never open and always keep on them either in their wallets or on a string around their neck. A simple resguardo, usually for newborns, is a necklace or bracelet with a polished jet stone.

If you’re in need of a spiritual cleansing to get rid of any bad vibes you can do at home or have a bruja do it for you with an egg. Holding the egg carefully—so you don’t drop it or accidentally break it—you pass it over your entire body. The egg absorbs all of the negative energies. If you’re doing it at home, dispose of the egg without breaking it. If you’re with a skilled brujo, they might crack the egg open to read the yolk. And if a long life is what you’re looking for, then eat the first egg laid by a black hen.

Many cultures have superstitions around broken mirrors—from seven years of bad luck to seven years of bad sex. But what I didn’t know until I started asking around was that there’s a counter-spell. If you break a mirror, simply collect all of the pieces in a bucket of water for seven days and seven nights and this should prevent any bad luck from ever coming to you.

One of my favourite superstitions has to do with roosters and which I have since learned is common in other Caribbean nations as well. The superstition goes that if you’re crossing your eyes or flipping up your eyelids and a rooster crows your eyes will remain stuck in that position forever. My mother used to shout this one to me all the time, without a hint of irony in her voice (in Santo Domingo it made sense, but how we were going to hear a rooster crow in a New York City apartment on the seventh floor seemed not to crossed her mind. Had we lived on the ground floor it also would have made sense since a few blocks away I know of at least a few neighbours who kept roosters in their basements. I don’t know why).

Broom superstitions and spells are pretty common in the Dominican Republic. From the belief that if someone accidentally sweeps your feet you’ll never get married to the famed witch’s nightly flights. But my favourite broom related spell is one for pesky visitors that have overstayed their welcome. If ever you get undesired guests, simply place a broom behind a door, throw some salt at it and soon the visitors will suddenly remember they have other things to do that don’t involve bothering you.

Salt is another powerful spell ingredient. It has the capacity to ward away bad luck, unwanted visitors and to absorb sickness. If someone in your household is sick or has a fever that isn’t breaking, simply put a bowl of salt under their bed overnight and the salt will absorb any negative or illness-inducing energies which you can promptly dispose of outside!

And last but not least, if you find yourself low on funds you can always keep a single dollar bill in your wallet, which according to us, will bring you more money. I’ve never tried this so if someone wants to volunteer a dollar, I will gladly do an experiment. Or you can tell me in the comments below if this or any of the spells above have worked for you! What are some of your favourite spells or superstitions? —Mechi Annaís Estévez Cruz

This article originally appeared on UnaVainaBienSpanish.com.

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For Us By Us: 8 Things To Know About The Black News Channel

A network for us by us is heading to a television near you. The Black News Channel, a network dedicated to quality news and original content for African-Americans, will see the light of day next month.

BNC has been over a decade in the making thanks to J.C. Watts, the former Oklahoma congressman who wanted to create a platform similar to CNN with only news and insight by people of color. Networks like BET and TVOne have respectfully released similar programming in the past with BET Nightly News and News One Now hosted by Roland Martin, but this new network plans to run on a 24-hour news cycle while tying in programs that will benefit teens, women, and HBCUs.

It was recently announced that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan made up a large part of the investment pool, with many wondering just how the network will be run. Khan has reportedly voted for President Donald Trump but has continuously slammed his tenure as commander-in-chief.

According to BNC's website, their mission statement is "to provide intelligent programming that is informative, educational, inspiring and empowering to its African-American audience." They also hope to "preserve a proud black American heritage" and inspire viewers with uplifting and spiritual content daily.

The network will launch across over 30 million households on Friday, Nov. 15. In the meantime, here's everything you should know about the Black News Channel.

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1. The BNC Was Co-Founded by J.C. Watts, A Former Athlete Turned Republican Congressman

Watts has worn many hats in his life with most of them existing in the business space. Some of his endeavors include a public affairs consulting company as well as director seats at companies like retail giant Dillard's, CSX Corporation and ITC Holdings.

Before jumping into the business world, Watts played college football for the Oklahoma Sooners and later, the Canadian Football League. After becoming a Baptist minister in the early '90s, he ran for Congress and served four terms.

During that time, Watts worked alongside Capitol Hill with former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush. During the late '90s, he was elected to the chair of the House Republican Conference. He also co-founded the Coalition for AIDS Relief in Africa and helped develop legislation with Congressman John Lewis to establish the Smithsonian Museum of African American history.

The idea for BNC came in 2004 with the intent to provide quality news and original programming to African-American households. "The Black news channel is culturally specific to the African-American community," he told The Street earlier this month.

"You've got 200 plus stations on any cable system. We are the one location that you can come and find out about wellness culture, current affairs as it relates to African-American communities." He also stressed the need to provide a safe space for black wellness earlier this year on Power 105.1's The Breakfast Club.

2. The BNC Was Almost Based On FAMU's Campus

Before setting up shop in Tallassee, Florida, Watts was interested in filming on the campus but decided against it. Instead, the network will work closely with Ann Kimbrough in the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication at Florida A&M University and other Historical Black Colleges & Universities across the country.

3. It Will Serve Over 30 Million Households

BNC will operate as a 24/7 news channel and will launch to an estimated 33 million households. A reported 23 million are satellite owners while the other 10 million are from cable TV households in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta. A studio was also built this year for the network in New Orleans.

In the early stages of the network, the company created "on-air programming trials" that served 8 million people. The project helped the company with the type of content they wanted to create and the content viewers wanted to see.

4. Religion And Faith Might Play A Role In Programming

Under the site's goals for the Black News Channel, the company notes how they've built strong relationships with African-American figures from the clergy, media, and politics. While it isn't known just how faith will play into BNC's ideology, there seems to be something there.

5. One of Their Biggest Investors Has A Fickle Relationship With President Donald Trump

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan wants Black News Channel to reflect the views of African-Americans but critics aren't thrilled about his political ties. Khan reportedly voted for Trump and donated $1 million to his inauguration. During an interview at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit this month, Khan explained his appreciation for Trump's economic retort but a distaste for his social policies around immigration, religion and civil rights.

Khan was one of the first NFL owners to famously lock arms with players in solidarity for Colin Kaepernick who was slammed for kneeling during the National Anthem. “Those were human causes that [the players] brought a lot of attention to," he said.

"And since then, the league has done a lot. We’d need a special program with you to go through all the stuff. And the players have done a lot. That was the time for talk and symbolism; since then, it’s been time for action. And there’s been a lot of action. Local communities, prison reform, a lot of those things that impact not only minorities but other people.”

But when it comes to his investment in BNC, Khan wants to change the narrative in media about black lifestyles. “I believe there is an undeniable calling for everything the Black News Channel will deliver to African-American television audiences, who have historically been underserved, in an era where networks have otherwise successfully targeted news to specific demographic groups and interests,” Khan told WJCT, adding, “My decision to invest is an easy one, because we get to answer that call.”

6. Original Programming Will Cater To Black Women and Teens

An estimated 12 hours will be dedicated to the news while the rest will focus on content dedicated to women and teens. Other programs will also shed light on alternative sports like MMA, Muay Thai and the NBA on a global level.

Some standout program synopses include:

Being a Woman

This daily one-hour hosted talk show is dedicated to topics of interest to women of all ages. Show topics will range from childbirth to caring for elderly parents, business to politics, and entertainment to hair care. No topic is too big or too small for this woman-to-woman discussion. The show host will select distinguished women from the vast array of academic experts and alumnae professionals associated with our Historical Black Colleges & Universities to co-host each day’s program.

Getting Ready With Jane: Today's Teen

In this show, family therapist Jane Marks gets real with teens and speaks a language they can understand. With more than forty years of experience helping families and young people in crisis, Marks offers helpful and timely advice to young African Americans about coping in today’s world. This one-hour weekly program is family-friendly and offers a message of hope. Today’s Teen Talk series is definitely “must see TV.”

My Money

This daily half-hour business show will examine best practices for wisely making and managing your money, as well as news and information about what is happening in the financial markets at home and around the world. This format will include a host and financial experts as studio guests.

7. HBCU's Will Have A Great Influence On The Black News Channel

BNC's relationship with Historical Black Colleges & Universities will run deep. Not only will aspiring journalists have an opportunity to work at the network but they will also have exposure to media training and state of the art production.

The series Living Social at HBCUs will also explore life on HBCU campuses and the intersection of education and cultural development.

8. Larry Elder Will More Than Likely Ruffle Feathers

Everyone loves a wildcard and BNC has found one in Larry Elder. The radio staple and attorney has over 25 years in the industry from news programs on NBC and ABC News & Talk. He also starred as a judge on Moral Court, an early production by TMZ creator Harvey Levin in 2001.

Elder's views have been seen as conservative but he reportedly identifies as a Libertarian. After walking away from the news show sector, Elder made his way to digital radio and podcasting where he's led conversations on topics like "Unwed Fathers" in the NBA, education, and criticism of the early presidential candidates of the 2020 election. He's also a frequent user of the #HillaryUnhinged hashtag that criticizes the former presidential candidate.

Larry Elder NEW Video: Why Won't The 'Woke' @NBA Take On The 800lb Elephant On The Court--UNWED FATHERS?!?https://t.co/Tbtqmcz25c#FathersMatter pic.twitter.com/I8oOAOcKIx

— Larry Elder (@larryelder) October 21, 2019

School Choice, Pt. 2

Larry Elder VIDEO: Black and Hispanic Democrats WANT Choice in Education--White Democrats DO NOT!https://t.co/ghQQMNS4iV#SchoolVouchers

— Larry Elder (@larryelder) October 20, 2019

A program hasn't been shared on BNC's website but Elder is listed as a "Show Host/Commentator." We're sure many will tune in to hear about today's culture from his perspective.

Learn more about the Black News Channel here.

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10 Hip-Hop Artists Who Released Two Albums In The Same Year

One presumes that when an artist reaches album release time, they’ll approach each cycle with a fully conceptualized idea of what they want for the album and how they want it to be received. Consider all the creation, recording, sample clearances, planning, and shipping deadlines that have to be met before an LP makes it to fans’ ears. It can take months, even years, for an artist to get an album done. Only a handful of hip-hop artists have gone against traditional methods and accomplished the ambitious feat of dropping two albums in the same year.

DaBaby has already made a strong case for rap’s Rookie of the Year in 2019, with his March album Baby On Baby featuring the hit song "Suge" and standout appearances on Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers III, Post Malone’s “Enemies,” and Lil Nas X’s “Panini” remix. But with Friday's release of KIRK, he joins rare company. Rappers have been releasing multiple projects within a year in the form of mixtapes and EPs for a long time now, but putting out two full-length studio albums is a difficult task for any artist to shoulder. To accomplish such a feat is a testament to an artist’s dedication and drawing power if they take on the hefty task.

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2Pac Year: 1996 Albums: All Eyez On Me; The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory

2Pac had always been known for his intense work ethic, especially following his release from prison in 1995. After signing with Death Row, 2Pac spent endless amounts of hours in the studio churning out music at a quick rate. By February 1996, Pac had enough music to release hip-hop’s first double-full-length solo album, All Eyez on Me. The 27-track album has 2Pac embracing the “thug life” mantra heavily, a sharp departure from the social and politically conscious rhymes on his previous albums. It spawned five singles (two No. 1’s with “How Do U Want It” and “California Love”) and topped the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.

He earned another No. 1 album with The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, two months after his murder in September 1996. Under his Makaveli alias, the album has 2Pac taking on a darker tone and sending shots to his rivals at the time, including The Notorious B.I.G, Diddy, Mobb Deep, Jay-Z and more. Both albums are amongst the most celebrated and best-selling hip-hop albums of all time.

DMX Year: 1998 Albums: It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot; Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood

DMX made a huge impact when he dropped his first two albums, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, in 1998. In a time where hip-hop was dominated by flashy suits and feel good records, fans flocked to DMX’s brand of tough, gritty street rap and propelled his first two albums to the top of the charts. It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot is a grim introduction to the angry, chaotic mind of Earl Simmons. It featured Sheek Louch, Mase, The Lox, Drag-On and more. The album was a massive success, producing four singles with two of them earning a spot amongst (arguably) the greatest hip-hop singles of all time (“Get At Me Dog” and “Ruff Ryders Anthem”).

Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood has X embracing the dark, uncompromising aesthetic of his first album that his fans lauded. Its small guest list includes Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, and The Lox. Only “Slippin” and “No Love 4 Me” were released as singles but that didn’t stop the album from going three times platinum. There’s a six-month difference between the release of both albums, which made DMX the second rapper after 2Pac to release two No. 1 albums in a year. Despite his legal and addiction troubles in recent years, DMX is one of hip-hop’s most distinctive personalities and his first two albums are evidence of that.

Nas Year: 1999 Albums: I Am…, Nastradamus

In 1999, Nas was going through an intriguing phase in his career. After the commercial and critical success of his sophomore album, It Was Written, the Queens MC began work on his third studio album, I Am… The Autobiography. It was intended to be a double album that told his story from birth through the afterlife, but an internet leak forced Nas to record new material to replace the songs that were shared online – making him one of the first artists to have his music leaked by MP3 technology. The end result would be the creation of Nas’ third and fourth studio albums, I Am… and Nastradamus.

With I Am…, Nas earned his second No. 1 album and second best-selling release behind It Was Written. “Nas Is Like” and “Hate Me Now” were the only two singles off the album and helped push it to double platinum certification. Nastradamus didn’t fare too well with Nas’ listeners, with the lackluster production and rushed feel of the album, due to the leak, left critics and fans underwhelmed. It did manage to find moderate success as it hit platinum certification, but Nastradamus is widely regarded as Nas’ weakest album. Jay-Z dismissively referred to the two albums as "doo" during the two's iconic battle, leading the latter to reinvigorate his career with Stillmatic in 2001.

Nelly Year: 2004 Albums: Sweat, Suit

At the height of his massive popularity, Nelly became the first rapper to release two albums simultaneously when he dropped Sweat and Suit on the same day in November 2004. He originally planned to release one album for his third solo effort, but he eventually decided to drop two albums that could hold all the music that was being recorded at the time.

The first album, Sweat, is an upbeat, party-orientated hip-hop album that aims to capture club vibes with tracks like “Na-NaNa-Na,” “Flap Your Wings,” and “Tilt Ya Head Back.” It debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts and went platinum two months after its release. Suit, on the other hand, had smooth, R&B-tinged production with songs meant for the grown and sexy audience. Nelly showed his evolution as an artist on Suit with the different musical sounds he took on and the mellow vibe he exuded on each track. The album spawned two Top 10 singles in “My Place” featuring Jaheim and the global hit “Over and Over” featuring Tim McGraw. It was Nelly’s third consecutive No. 1 and was nominated for best rap album at the 47th Grammy Awards.

Lil’ Wayne Year: 2010 Albums: Rebirth, I Am Not A Human Being

Lil Wayne went through a brief creative shift in 2010 when he dropped his seventh studio album Rebirth. The album is Wayne’s first and only rock record, a move that puzzled fans. It received negative reviews but did well on the Billboard charts, debuting at No. 2 and selling 176,000 copies in its first week. Each of the four singles obtained success on the charts, including the Eminem-assisted “Drop The World” which went quadruple platinum. Unfortunately, Wayne spent much of 2010 dealing with legal issues that landed him in Rikers Island to serve an eight month sentence for criminal possession of a weapon.

Before going away, Wayne recorded material that formed into his eighth studio album, I Am Not A Human Being. The album was another success for the Young Money boss, as it debuted at No. 2 and later topped the charts thanks to its physical release. This made Wayne the first hip-hop artist since 2Pac released Me Against The World in 1994 to have a No. 1 album while incarcerated. The album received favorable reviews from critics and earned a Top 10 hit with its lead single “Right Above It” featuring Drake.

E-40 Years: 2010 and 2011 Albums: Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift, Revenue Retrievin’: Night Shift, Revenue Retrievin’: Overtime Shift, Revenue Retrievin’: Graveyard Shift

In 2010, E-40 adopted Nelly’s approach to releasing an album on the same day when he dropped the first two entries in his Revenue Retrievin’ series. Instead of focusing on two different types of personas like what Nelly did on his same-day releases, E-40 focused on the various types of hustling. The first album, Day Shift, focuses on the “around the clock” hustle and boasts a whopping 19 tracks with features like Too Short, B-Legit, and Suga T with production by Rick Rock, Droop-E and others. The second album, Night Shift, plays on the late night hustle of go-getters with much of the same features and producers from the previous album.

In 2011, E-40 accomplished the feat once more with the next installments of the Revenue Retrievin’ series, Overtime Shift and Graveyard Shift. The first entry focused on that extra amount of hustle necessary to stay at the top of your game, while the latter detailed the dark, gritty side of hustling. Both feature-filled albums were favorably reviewed by critics. The Revenue Retrievin’ series was an ambitious effort for the Bay Area legend as he released an insane 191 songs in the span of two years.

Frank Ocean Year: 2016 Albums: Endless, Blonde

Four long years after his magnum opus Channel ORANGE, Frank Ocean made his heavily-anticipated return in 2016 with Endless and Blonde. Despite a few interviews and Tumblr posts, the music world had little information on new music from Ocean or on the artist himself. On August 1, 2016 their questions would be answered when a live stream of Ocean cryptically building a stairway structure premiered on his website. On August 19, it was revealed the livestream was actually a visual album titled Endless that reportedly fulfilled Frank’s recording contract with Def Jam Recordings. The album’s mix of avant-soul, ambient pop and R&B set it up to be a proper prelude for Blonde’s genre-bending sound.

Blonde was released a day later to widespread critical acclaim and found itself on several year-end lists. It came in at No. 1 on several music charts and has been certified platinum. The album was lead by “Nikes,” which also found its place amongst the best songs of 2016 according to Pitchfork’s “The 100 Best Songs of 2016” list. Blonde mostly explored the themes of falling in and out of love with ties to depression, hate, self-love, and family. Critics and fans applauded the improvement to his extraordinary sound with many considering to be one of the greatest R&B/pop albums of all time.

Gucci Mane Years: 2016 and 2017 Albums: Everybody Looking, The Return of East Atlanta Santa; Mr. Davis, and El Gato: The Human Glacier

Becoming a free man in 2016 following a two-year prison sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Gucci found himself back in the studio releasing a string of projects in the subsequent years. Gucci evolved into a new and improved artist throughout this time, working with some of the newest and biggest names in hip-hop. In 2016, Gucci dropped Everybody Looking, a personal look into his wild life. It featured production by Boi-1da, Drumma Boy, Murda Beatz and more, with Drake, Kanye West and Young Thug lending their vocals. Months later, Gucci dropped the next entry in his East Atlanta Santa series, The Return of East Atlanta Santa with features by Drake, Bryson Tiller, and Travis Scott.

Gucci did it again a year later when he dropped two more studio albums with Mr. Davis and El Gato: The Human Glacier. Mr. Davis debuted at No. 2 and boasted a stellar list of guest features and production credits including Chris Brown, The Weeknd, Hitmaka, Danja, former NBA player Chris Bosh and more. For El Gato, Gucci kept it to a minimum and found his lane taking on the rhymes on his own and enlisting Southside as the sole producer of the album. Each of the four albums were well-received by fans and critics and cracked the top 30 of the Billboard 200 with Everybody Looking becoming his highest charting album.

Future Year: 2017 Albums: FUTURE, HNDRXX

Future became the first artist in Billboard’s history to have two albums top the charts in successive weeks with this pair of releases in 2017. FUTURE finds the Atlanta native tapping into his fiery, no-nonsense trap persona, rapping about money and warning his enemies. Through 17 featureless tracks, Future weaves his way through the heavy trunk-rattling production of Metro Boomin’, 808 Mafia, !llmind, and more. There are a number of fun records on the album like “Draco” and “Super Trapper,” but the five times platinum “Mask Off” was the breakaway hit on the album.

On HNDRXX, Future took a different approach by embracing a melodic R&B vibe for the album. As opposed to the examination of his ego on FUTURE,  is a look inside Future’s emotions and soul where he croons about the pitfalls of the lavish, dangerous life he rapped about on FUTURE. The avant-pop sound of the album had Future go from toxic masculinity (“My Collection”), to admiring a woman despite his trust issues (“Incredible”), to betrayal (“Turn On Me”). HNDRXX was highly favored over FUTURE due to the emotional vulnerability, but both albums were platinum certified and gave Future his fourth and fifth No. 1 albums.

Lil Yachty Year: 2018 Albums: Lil Boat 2; Nuthin’ 2 Prove

Lil Yachty had a major year in 2018. To go along with starring in the sequel to the 2001 comedy How High and voicing Green Lantern in the animated film Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, Lil Boat became the latest rapper to join this matchless group of hip-hop artists who’ve released two albums in a year. Lil Boat 2 and Nuthin’ 2 Prove have Lil Yachty rapping about his expensive lifestyle and sumptuous riches all over various pounding trap-laden beats by Pi’erre Bourne, DJ Durel, Tay Keith, 30 Roc and more. Lil’ Boat 2 serves as a sequel to his debut mixtape Lil Boat and was a response to the day one fans who wanted to hear Lil Boat rap as opposed to the melodies he sang on his debut, Teenage Emotions. Regardless of the mixed reviews from critics, Lil Boat 2 did well commercially, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, becoming his second top five album after Teenage Emotions.

Nuthin’ 2 Prove, however, was a mix of Lil Yachty’s auto-tune reliant melodies and boisterous raps. It was propelled by its lead single “Who Want The Smoke?” featuring QC labelmates Offset of the Migos and Cardi B. Its guest list also included Lil Baby, Juice WRLD, Gunna, Playboi Carti, Young Nudy and more. Critics gave the album mixed reviews, commenting on its lack of direction. Fans felt Lil Yachty had a lot more growth to show. The project debuted at No. 12 on the charts, selling only 40,000 copies in its first week.

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10 Things You Didn't Know About Brandy's Debut Album

Known as on the most important voices of her time Brandy Norwood's unique presence in music is one of a kind. It all started with the release of her self-titled debut album Brandy in 1994 which spawned many hits and a new sound in modern R&B.

Twenty-five years later, the album sounds just a fresh as its debut. With production from Keith Crouch, Curtis Wilson (of Somethin' for the People fame) and Damon Thomas, Brandy was a true teenage dream as it touched on friendships, young love while allowing Brandy to soar.

A Billboard notes, the album delivered two No. 1 singles on the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop chart ("Baby" and "Brokenhearted") and hit No. 20 on the Billboard 200. Grammy nominations and endless praise for the project from the older crowd was one thing, but the singer's ability to craft a genuine girl next door quality made her songs relatable to any 90s kid.

True Brandy fans know how her monumental project came together but for the rest, here's a list of things you should know about the album.

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1. "Best Friend" Was Meant To Be A Duet With Ray J

“That was about [my brother] Ray J. It was supposed to be a duet," the singer told Billboard for the album's 20th anniversary. The song also had a different aura as it includes flute solo. It was also the first time the singer sang a song outside of her Christian background. "I loved ‘Best Friend’ because I got a chance to do my own backgrounds. I come from a church where I grew up singing a capella," she said. "So I love playing with different notes and feeling that union with different harmonies and sounds. I love singing backgrounds more than I do lead. And this song was the first time I’d felt that feeling outside of the church.”

2. Keith Crouch Produced Tracks For Brandy And Lalah Hathaway In The Same Year

At 21, Crouch was a busy bee. Kicking his career off at age 15, the producer enjoyed a breakout year in 1994 when he produced and wrote for both Brandy and Lalah Hathaway. Crouch produced a majority of Brandy's self-titled album including the songs "Baby," "Best Friend," "I Wanna be Down" and the touching "Brokenhearted." Meanwhile, he made sure Hathaway's sophomore project A Moment, a true well, moment. Crouch produced tracks like "Separate Ways," "Rise" and "These Are The Things You Do To Me."

3. Brandy Earned The Coveted Best New Artist Grammy Nomination

Following the release of her album, the singer was nominated for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Baby." Brandy lost out on her Best New Artist nod to Hootie & the Blowfish but would go on to snag a gramophone for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for "The Boy is Mine" with Monica in 1999.

4. Chris Stokes Wanted To Sign Her

At the age of 11, Brandy was on the path to superstardom. The singer starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom Thea but wanted to pursue her singing career. This led her parents to Chris Stokes and a spot singing background vocals for the Marques Houston-led group Immature. Stokes helped to create her demo which was passed along to Atlantic Records. After slight hesitation regarding her age, then-A&R Darryl Williams signed the singer to the label.

5. Robin Thicke Performed Background Vocals/Co-Wrote "Love Is On My Side"

Brandy called her session for "Love Is on My Side" "vocally challengling." Produced by Damon Thomas with some assistance from a young Robin Thicke, Brandy told Billboard she was intimidated by drums and organs used on the song.

"I needed to give everything to that song," she said. "I had to push myself to give it what it deserved. To see Robin doing well now, and still being able to do his thing and write his own songs, it’s so amazing. He was 17, writing way back when we had some great times as artists.”

6. The Album Remained On The Billboard 200 For 89 Weeks

Brandy's chart takeover was all thanks to her singles "I Wanna Be Down," "Baby," "Brokenhearted" and "Best Friend." The tracks enjoyed spots across the Billboard Hot 100 chart (with many of them in the Top 10). Her self-titled album debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at No. 98 with arguably her best album Never Say Never entering at No. 3. Brandy went on to live on the charts for a whopping 89 weeks.

7.  Critics Constantly Compared Her Debut To Aaliyah's

With Aaliyah's chill demeanor and sweet vocals, it was sadly second nature for critics to pit another young black teen like Brandy against her but both ladies never gave in to the critics.

“I met Aaliyah when I was about 15. I was so excited to meet her because she was the first girl on the scene," Brandy said of their friendship in 2011 with Billboard.  "She came out before Monica and I did, she was our inspiration. At the time, record companies did not believe in kid acts and it was just inspiring to see someone that was winning and being themselves. When I met her I embraced her, I was so happy to meet her. I told her how much I loved her. She said the same thing about me and we connected. It was a great moment I’ll never forget."

She also made it clear to shout her out at the 1995 Soul Train Awards after one of her comments about the singer was misinterpreted.

8. She Heard "I Wanna Be Down" For The First Time At A Taco Bell

Every artist remembers the first time they hear their song on the radio. Most of the time they're at home or in a car but for Brandy, things were a little different. "It felt so good hearing it on the radio that first time at Taco Bell," she recalled. "It felt like it belonged there.”

9. She Rushed Through The Recording Process of "Brokenhearted" So She Can Get To An Amusement Park

She was 14, of course she did!

10. Brandy's First Album Inspired Jill Scott and Erykah Badu's Debuts

It's been said time and time again about the heavy number of vocalists Brandy has inspired. From Solange to Britney Spears, everyone found a little bit of themselves in Brandy's music and style. Fellow icons like Erykah Badu and Jill Scot have sited Brandy's first album as a blueprint of sorts for their respective debuts. "Brandy's first album was one of my inspirations when writing Baduizm," she shared on social media. "I looove that album [...] songs i liked were "I Wanna Be Down" and "Always on My Mind"... nice."

Brandi's first album. Was one of my inspirations when writting Baduism.

I looove that album

— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) September 28, 2012

As peers celebrated the singer's 20 years in the business, Scott noted how she listens to jams like "Sunny Day" and "Always On My Mind." There's also the very long list of names like Miguel, Lil Mo, Luke James, Shante Moore, Jordin Sparks, Teyana Taylor, Sevyn Streeter, Elle Varner, Syleena Johnson, Maxwell and many more who have praised her debut album as a major inspiration.

Stream Brandy's self-titled album below.

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