Soul Brother On Behalf Of Toyota

“Queen Of Green” Yoli Ouiya Discusses Healthy Lifestyle Choices, Being The Boss Of Your Brand

"Choose something that's authentic to you and not something that's gonna give you fame or quick money."

With so many blogs today dedicated to healthy eating and better lifestyle choices, it’s difficult to find one that’s the best for you. Enter Yoli Ouiya and her blog “Yoli’s Green Living,” which is dedicated to healthy recipes, sustainable fashion and beauty, and frugal tips for living a more fulfilling life on a budget.

Ouiya has been featured in Black Enterprise, Blavity, the Huffington Post and more, and has been a guest on The Dr. Oz Show, where she discussed probiotic foods. As a chef with a certification in Plant Based nutrition, she tours the country as a guest speaker who focuses on self-care, health, nutrition and more.

During the DMV area’s Broccoli City Festival, Ouiya served as a coalition member for the Toyota-Green Initiative, which focuses on sustainability and healthy living tactics geared towards resonating with young people in the black community. VIBE sat down with Ouiya to hear more about her brand and the rewards of an eco-friendly lifestyle.

VIBE: How did you begin to develop your brand as the "Queen Of Green"?
Yoli Ouiya: Great question. I lost weight, not on purpose. I changed my diet. I was dating someone who was vegan at the time, and he was like 'I bet you can't be vegan for a week.' I was like...you don't challenge a Leo!

I know that's right.
That week turned into two weeks, turned into three weeks, turned into months, years. As I was doing it, I realized that when you're a vegan, you need to know about food. You need to know how to read labels and look at food and decide what is vegan and what isn't. So, I started cooking. I come from a family that knows how to cook, so I had to take all of the foods that I love and learn how to turn them vegan, how to make them healthier. Now I follow as plant based, not plant exclusive diet. I've learned to listen to my body and find the balance between my foodie desires, gluttony, and my nutritional needs. I started working as an apprentice for different chefs, and I wound up having a catering company for 10 years.

In the process of having the diet change and the weight loss and being healthier, I kept looking at how much waste is being created from just being in that space alone, and looking at how the environment continues to evolve. I said 'you know what? Let me start a site that's not just a resource for others, but a resource for myself.' There's so much information that I want to keep learning. Even though I know so much now, I always want to keep learning.

I always used to say when I was in college that I want to be a lifelong student, no matter where I went. A life-living, lifelong student. I started the site as a resource for not only myself, but others, so they could hopefully benefit. Within two years of me starting the blog, I got recognized by Black Enterprise. It worked out.

If you could, can you give a short blurb about what people can find on your site?
The site is an evergreen resource of healthy living tips, sustainable living, recipes. I'm starting up again when the season really warms up, because right now it's kind of just there. Every season, to culminate with the seasons, we upload a series of new recipes, articles about sustainability. I'm also moving into a new space where I'm working on a sustainable product line called African Hippie. I want to take some of my indigenous culture, and also create a space for all women of color to have that free Bohemian spirit. There's a lot of things out there that are marketed to the Bohemian look, but they're not for us. I go into certain stores, and I'm like "oh this is cute," but they're not sustainable, there's no women of color. I want to create something for us, and I wanted to do something that was good for the earth by using recycled materials.

What are some of your favorite eco-friendly clothing lines?
Eileen Fisher. They're a little bit higher in price point, but the reason they are is because they try to make quality clothing that'll last. If you're gonna buy something, you need to make sure it lasts for a long time. That's one thing my father taught me. He would go and buy one pair of shoes, good shoes. He would wear them all year. Threads for Thought is another one. They make a lot of natural and organic stuff that's affordable, not "break the bank." Then, I'm working on African Hippie, it's more sustainably-sourced.

Do you have any advice on how to become the boss of your own brand?
Start by doing something that's authentic to you. If you try to do a cookie cutter of something else, it comes across as fake and bullsh*t. Do something that you can stand behind, even when you're tired and you think about it, you're excited about it. There's always that ebb-and-flow of excitement. There's days when I'm working on my product line and I don't want to do it, but I see the end result. I think about what the end result is and what that's gonna create for me and my family and my friends and the universe and the planet.

Choose something that's authentic to you and not something that's gonna give you fame or quick money. Money comes and goes. All that stuff happens, fame, money, all of it comes when you're doing the work. Put your head down and do the work, don't just sit back and be like, 'I have this idea!' It doesn't matter who does it first, it matters who does it first and best. If you have an idea, make sure you're doing it excellently. Make sure it's aesthetically-pleasing, and don't half-a** it. That's the worst. So I say authenticity, a commitment and being passionate about it, then make sure it's on point.

What's the most rewarding aspect of living a healthy, eco-friendly life?
Oh, everything. You see things clearer, you attract the people you want to attract. I notice when I’m not eating the way I’m supposed to be eating, my experiences are not the same. Your experiences are not in alignment. That’s one of the biggest benefits, manifesting the things I want in my life. Literally, I was like "no sugar, this isn't for me." Within two weeks, anything I could think of that I wanted in my life would come, and I wouldn't have to try. It's having that commitment to yourself and being healthy that the universe responds, and then you're like 'okay, I see where you're going.' The universe helps support you to keep going in all directions, not just with food!

I see a lot of people read the blog, so what does it feel like to know that people can go to you and they trust you with certain things that have to do with a healthier lifestyle?
It feels good to be a resource, because I can keep learning. Not just from research, but learning from the people who read it. They bring information to me like 'Yoli, did you know about such-and-such?' and I'm like 'no, but I'm gonna find out!' I like having that as a place, even using that resource as a reminder to myself.

I don't preach because I don't know everything, I'm still learning like everyone else. I appreciate having a platform that I'm able to educate our community, and being discovered by people who are like 'I really wanna be healthy, but I just don't know how.' For me, I've been doing it long enough where I'm able to help. You don't have to go to Whole Foods to be healthy, you can go to Aldis. I love being thrifty. There's ways to be healthy without spending all your money, and it doesn't have to be high-end. It can be just where your income lays. For instance, there's a store in New York in Chinatown where it's all avocados. They wholesale it for a dollar.

That's a dream come true!
It's avocado heaven! One summer, I was called "Yoli Guacamole" for an entire summer, because all I'd make is guacamole, and I make good a** guacamole [Laughs].

What do you put in it?
I do variants! The simple recipe is just mashed avocado, lime and sea salt. Then, you wanna go a little fancier, you'll put Roma tomatoes, some red onions, then if you wanna go completely fancy, you'll put some pickled red onions, jalapeño...there's so many variants. Once, I made some with sauteed plantain. Diced, sauteé it, mix it so you get a little bit of that savory and sweet. I'm telling you, man. That's why they called me "Yoli Guacamole”!

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.


Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.


View this post on Instagram


I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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