I'ma let y'all finish, but I know that Brandy and Monica are about to put down the greatest Verzuz battle of time. I said what I said, don't @ me.
Although this year has definitely thrown us some curveballs along the way, you've persevered, sis, and there's no better way to celebrate your hard work than by winding down with some of your favorite jams from the 99s and the 2000s live from Tyler Perry Studios on Aug. 31st.
Brandy and Monica, who both declined to participate in a battle initially, damn near broke the internet after confirming Monday's festivities, but we should've known better than to think that these two GOATs would let this quarantine pass without taking us on a stroll down memory lane and as our anticipation continues to build, we're more than sure that these two queens will break all of the digital records.
If you're tired of waiting and are ready to get all the way in the mood for the moment these R&B divas take the stage, scroll below for 21 jams you need to bump ASAP in preparation.
Brandy & Monica - The Boy Is Mine
Brandy - Baby
Monica - Before You Walk Out Of My Life
Brandy - Have You Ever
Monica - Angel Of Mine
Brandy - Almost Doesn't Count
Monica - Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days)
Missing You - Brandy, Tamia, Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan [Set It Off Soundtrack]
Monica - For You, I Will
Brandy - Sittin' Up in My Room
Monica - Why I Love You So Much
Brandy - I Wanna Be Down
Monica - So Gone
Brandy - Full Moon
Monica - U Should've Known Better
Brandy - Right Here (Departed)
Monica - A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)
Brandy - Top Of The World (feat. Mase)
Monica- Everytime Tha Beat Drop
Brandy - Talk About Our Love (feat. Kanye West)
Monica - Love All Over Me
Featured image via Tenor
Taylor "Pretty" Honore is a spiritually centered and equally provocative rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a love for people and storytelling. You can probably find me planting herbs in your local community garden, blasting "Back That Thang Up" from my mini speaker. Let's get to know each other: @prettyhonore.
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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I’ve said in other articles where I unpack the benefits that come with different kinds of herbal tea that I’m a huge fan of this type of beverage. If you’re not, I’m hoping that this article may convince you to become one because the reality is that tea comes with all kinds of proven health benefits. The reason is that whatever properties are in the herbs that you choose to make your tea from, that is going directly into your system — and since a little bit of raw honey or a teaspoon of brown sugar can make the experience that much sweeter…why not take advantage of all of the things that tea has to offer.
Take today, for example. Were you even aware of the fact that there are certain types of tea that will help to slow down the aging process so that you can extend the shelf life of your skin and your system altogether? Hey, it might sound too good to be true on the surface, but if you’ll give me just a few moments of your time, I’m pretty sure that I can convince you to indulge in at least one cup of tea this week. Ready?
1. Black Tea
Did you know that black, white, green, and oolong teas are all related? Yep, they come from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. What makes them different is how they are processed. What makes black tea unique is the cells inside of it have been exposed to oxygen for an extended period of time. As far as health benefits go, black tea contains flavonoids that help to strengthen your heart, lower your blood sugar levels, and increase longevity. If you happen to have high cholesterol or a history of strokes in your family, black tea can reduce those issues too.
And what about aging? Some studies say that the flavonoids and polyphenols in black tea provide an “anti-wrinkle effect” when it comes to your skin. Plus, it can help to keep your gut in great shape which, indirectly, can help you to age more gracefully as well.
2. Jasmine Tea
Jasmine tea comes from the jasmine plant. It’s filled with antioxidants and is able to do everything from improve your brain function and reduce oral decay to help you lose weight and keep certain types of cancer cells from multiplying. Another cool thing about jasmine tea is, if you’re looking for a bit of a pick-me-up during the day, it can help to improve your mood.
Jasmine tea can also help to slow down the aging process because it contains something known as sesquiterpenoids; they have anti-aging properties as it relates to your brain, heart, and skin. Plus, jasmine tea has the compound EGCG in it, which helps to reduce stress levels, and since stress actually accelerates the aging process — well, anything that you can do to keep your stress levels down, the better off you and your system will ultimately be.
3. Elderberry Tea
Another type of tea that is packed with antioxidants is elderberry tea. Since it also contains properties that help to decrease oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, keep UV rays at bay, and keep your heart healthy — it automatically qualifies as an anti-aging type of drink. Some studies also indicate that elderberry tea can fight obesity, and since that’s just one more thing that is directly related to speeding up the aging process, being intentional about keeping your weight in a healthy place is always a wise move.
4. Hibiscus Tea
The hibiscus plant creates a vibrant color that looks a lot like cranberry juice. The antioxidants in it will help to fight inflammation, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, fight off bacteria, and detox your liver. This is also another tea that can help you manage your weight as well as your blood fat levels so that you are able to decrease your chances of ending up with heart disease later down the pike.
Since hibiscus tea is full of beta-carotene, a pigment that can inhibit the aging process of your tissues and organs — it’s definitely the kind of tea that will help you age beautifully…both inside and out.
5. Oolong Tea
A traditional Chinese tea is oolong tea. It’s a great tea for diabetics. It’s a tea that keeps your brain and heart in good condition. It’s a tea that brings relief to eczema. The plant compounds in the tea can also help to reduce bodily inflammation and reduce depression-related symptoms. And since it does have caffeine in it, if you’re looking for a “midday spike” that features more benefits than coffee, oolong has you covered there, too.
Word on the street is that the antioxidants in oolong tea can brighten the skin, reduce fine lines, and even decrease the appearance of age spots — all good to know if you’re on a mission to keep a youthful glow to your skin for as long as you possibly can.
6. Clove Tea
Listen, if you ever find yourself with a toothache from the pits of hell, put some clove oil on it. I don’t know anything that numbs the pain as quickly as it will! A part of the reason is that cloves have the ability to powerfully disinfect the bacteria that lead to tooth decay in the first place. Aside from that, cloves can also help to clear up congestion, soothe a sore throat, decrease skin irritation, regulate blood sugar levels, and improve the health of your liver.
When it comes to aging gracefully, cloves also have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that make it more difficult for aging signs to creep into your skin as well as your organs.
7. Ginseng Tea
There are some pretty powerful antioxidants in the herb known as ginseng. What they do is help to boost cognitive function, reduce inflammation, fight fatigue, and increase energy levels and it can even help to naturally treat erectile dysfunction in some men. As a bonus, if the flu season seems to come for you each and every year, ginseng tea has been known to shorten the lifespan of the flu, too.
Oh, and if you want your “black not to crack” for as long as possible, ginseng can also help in that department. That’s because it is able to reduce oxidative stress and boost the production of collagen — at the same time. Dope.
8. Rooibos Tea
A tea that derives from South Africa, rooibos tea is a caffeine-free tea that contains properties that help to fight off free radicals, has antioxidants that are good for individuals with type 2 diabetes, and it’s able to lower your risk of cancer. Another dope thing about rooibos tea is it has the ability to raise your leptin levels. That’s a hormone that helps to monitor your food intake, which means that this tea is beneficial if you’re trying to shed a few pounds.
When it comes to aging gracefully, rooibos tea makes the cut because, especially if you use it as a topical skin rinse, it has properties in it that can help to fade the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time, when used consistently (a couple of times a week for a few months).
9. Goji Berry Tea
Goji berry tea is a tea that’s made from steeping little red goji berries. A particular antioxidant that it has in it is zeaxanthin; it’s great at keeping your vision strong, fighting off free radicals, and reducing oxidative stress. Goji berry tea is also top-tier because it boosts immunity, fights off cancer cells, and stabilizes your blood sugar levels.
This tea makes this particular list because of two other age-related things. First, it has properties in it that help prevent sun damage and fine lines and wrinkles. Second, did you know that sleep deprivation is directly associated with accelerated biological aging? That said, goji berry tea can actually help you to fall and stay asleep at night — the more rested you are, the better you will look and feel.
10. Green Tea
And finally, there are almost countless reasons why you should add green tea to your overall healthcare regimen. The antioxidants in it help to prevent cellular damage. It helps to burn fat. It can boost your brain power. It helps to fight tooth decay. It even increases longevity — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
The reason why I’m rounding this article out with green tea is that, as far as aging goes, not only are there studies that cite green tea can help to keep your brain from aging, but it also contains properties that can repair damaged skin tissue; this means that your skin can look fresh and radiant for longer by consuming green tea. In fact, beauty-wise, green tea is so supreme that I wrote an article on several ways that you can use it for that purpose. Check out “You'll Totally Fall In Love With These Green Tea Beauty Hacks” when you get a chance.
You know, Eartha Kitt once said, “Aging has a wonderful beauty, and we should have respect for that” — and I totally agree. So, I hope you get that the takeaway here isn’t to run from aging; after all, if you’re blessed, it is inevitable. My point is to apply these teas to your diet so that you can age, both inside and out, in the best ways possible.
Drink up and enjoy!
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