Buffalo has it’s own fascinating coexistence. When my parents moved here from New York City over 20 years ago, their idea to settle down and start a family soon took its own interesting form. Their undying faith in God and unwavering passion in outreach had them and their three very young daughters (* at that time, there’s five of us now) doing ministry on not-so-friendly street corners, giving away free food at shelters and constantly filling up generators so my Dad could play and scratch on his turntables to the newest Cross Movement or Kirk Franklin record. Sometimes I wonder how a nurse and engineer, who on their downtime ministered through gospel rap with their little kids would have played in the Big Apple. I don’t think their impact would have been the same; and as unique. My parents fight for the mundane, led to a purpose full of creativity- An unlikely constant for a small city like Buffalo.
That’s why I feel a rush of joy and nostalgia anytime I hear “Sippin My Tea.” The single, released a few weeks ago by Aitina Fareed Cooke or better known as A.I The Anomaly, is a drum- led, feel-good groove about motivating yourself and staying in your own lane. Besides the pumping percussion and streaming synth piano, A.I rhymes about her thoughts on society, relationships, self-starting and spreading encouragement. From the culturally relevant hook “I just sip my tea and keep my rhythm…” to bittersweet lyricism like “Twerkin’ while mama hold the phone up, Sayin’ look at ma girl she better go and get it so cute little black girl soldier. They feedin’ little black girls poison.” – the song focuses on confronting the undeniable realities of life and focusing on making yourself better. I LOVE THIS SONG, REALLY LOVE THIS SONG.
What makes the record even better is the music video. Depictions of black youth, African head wraps and dancing women add to the purposeful story line of the experiences and struggles particularly black girl/women face. Special cameos by local play director and my former theatre professor Paulette D. Harris, artisan and textile business, Black Monarchy, and performed at the Historic Paul Robeson Theatre, A.I uses “Sippin’ My Tea,” as a showcase of the potential and success we have here in the Queen City. A.I, who’s been making uplifting music since 2007, also runs a film and photography business called “Get Fokuse’d Productions.” Her contributions to the community and influence to her art is significant. An all-around creative, A.I masters her storytelling at the intersection of Black Womanhood and Christianity. A very unique twist on Hip-Hop, I would say you can only find in Buffalo.