Toddley’s Top 10 Albums of the Past 10 years: Celebrating 10 years in the ATL!

This year marks my 10th year of living in the fabulous city of Atlanta, GA. It’s been a crazy, yet exciting 10 years full of ups, downs, and in-betweens. Through it all though, I always had my music!

Music is my passion, and I even worked as a professional singer for a while, as some of you already know. Music is a hobby now, but it stays in my blood. So, to celebrate these 10 years that I’ve lived in Hotlanta, I decided to put together a list of ten albums that have truly touched, inspired, uplifted me, or made me wanna boogie down over this past decade.

These are not ranked in any particular order, and in all honestly, the list could change depending on the day of the week you ask me. Lol. Anyhow, here goes.

The Fame – Lady Gaga


Lady Gaga didn’t look or sound like anybody else when she dropped her debut album, The Fame, in 2008. She had this underground, NYC, dirty pop vibe going on that you couldn’t help but get addicted to. She was giving Madonna and Grace Jones realness.

I loved her singles “Just Dance,” and “Poker Face,” but she really had me at ‘disco stick.’ Oh yes…I loved everything about her sexy song “Lovegame” and its accompanying video. Plus, her blood-filled performance of “Paparazzi” at the MTV VMAs was classic. In my opinion, this is the ultimate Gaga album!

B’day – Beyonce


To this day, B’day is my favorite Beyonce album. It’s also the album that solidified me as a Beyonce fan. I wasn’t gung ho about Mrs. Carter during her Destiny’s Child days. In fact, it wasn’t until her 1st solo album, Dangerously in Love, that I finally started jumping on the Beyonce bandwagon. When she dropped B’day though, I finally realized….this girl is bad!

B’day was like a Janet Jackson album with more hip-hop grit. Bey mixed hip-hop, funk, R&B, and pop with one destination in mind: the dancefloor. There was no way you could sit still listening to “Get Me Bodied,” “Freakum Dress,” “Greenlight,” or the majority of the album. She also gave you plenty of choreo to go along with the songs via her B’day video anthology & her stunning live concert DVD, The Beyonce Experience. Not to mention that her vocals were on fleek from beginning to end.

The album title is quite fitting as well. This record is certainly meant for any birthday celebration.

A Strange Arrangement – Mayer Hawthorne


The throwback sound has gotten quite popular over the past few years, but few have been able to capture that sound as authentically as Mayer Hawthorne did on his 2009 debut album, A Strange Arrangement.

When I would play this album around people, they thought I was listening to an old Motown record. Mayer Hawthorne delivered a geniune 60s and 70s soul sound that could easily fit into a playlist of classics from the The Stylistics or The Temptations. It is a damn good album!

His vocals aren’t as strong on this album as they are on his subsequent albums, but his voice is still smooth and his harmonies are crazy. If you’re not familiar with Mayer Hawthorne or this album, YouTube him now!

The Emancipation of Mimi – Mariah Carey


Before this album came out, it seemed as if Mariah’s chart-topping success had come to an end. Her Glitter film and soundtrack flopped, her Charmbracelet album tanked, and she had even dropped a greatest hits album (which usually signals the end of a career). But Miss Carey in all her divalicious determination made the comeback of all comebacks with this fantastic 2005 album.

This is arguably the best album of Mariah’s career. There’s not a single bad song on it. The songbird still gave us crazy vocals, hip-hop flavor, and guest appearances from Nelly, Snoop Dogg and more. However, Mariah took it back to the days of classic soul with her live-instrumentation based tunes like “Mine Again,” “Circles,” and “Fly Like a Bird.” It was R&B at its finest.

And of course, this album contains the Billboard top song of the 00s decade, “We Belong Together.” Mimi finally emancipated herself, and it paid off. Thank you for this wonderful album, Mimi 🙂

Back to Black – Amy Winehouse


Imma tell you right now, I wore this album OUT. I still listen to her Marvin Gaye-sampling tune “Tears Dry on Their Own” like it came out yesterday.

Amy was at the forefront of the blue-eyed soul, British invasion with Duffy and Adele right behind her. Her voice was laced in soul, her lyrics were raw, and her lush Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi-produced arrangements (with frequent help from funk band The Dap-Kings) would make any musician excited to play along with the songs on Back to Black.

Amy was truly in a class all of her own. This is one of the best albums of all time by a young lady who had an immeasurable amount of talent. RIP Amy Winehouse.

Uncaged – Zac Brown Band


I grew up with a mom that listened to nothing but country & bluegrass, and I must say that I was never a fan of either of those genres. Eventually, I came to appreciate country a bit thanks to the fabulous Shania Twain. However, it was Zac Brown Band that officially turned me into a country music fan.

Zac Brown Band has a number of great albums, but Uncaged especially resonates with me. Their song “Day That I Die” hits home probably with every singer & musician. It’s a tear-inducing number about fulfilling one’s passion for music up until death. The album fluidly spans a multitude of genres from bluegrass to R&B to reggae. The lyrics are heartfelt, the harmonies are euphonious, and Zac’s voice is one of the best male voices of the past decade. This album even won the band a Grammy, and I’m sure their future will be filled with many more well-deserved awards.

My One and Only Thrill – Melody Gardot


Unless you listen to modern day jazz, you probably aren’t familiar with Melody Gardot…..but you need to be! Her 2009 sophomore album My One and Only Thrill is a masterpiece. Listening to this album, you’re instantly transported into a smoky, NYC jazz lounge. The music is mellow, and Melody’s voice is incredibly soothing.

There’s no belting, no crazy riffs and runs; In fact, Melody doesn’t really showcase much of a vocal range.  However, Melody pours so much emotion into her singing that it still manages to pierce your soul.

If you’re not careful, you might find tears streaming down your face while listening to ballads like “Deep Within the Corners of My Mind” where she coos about missing a lover, or “The Rain,” where she splendidly tells the story of a couple contemplating a breakup. This album will make you want a drink and a smoke. So fix yourself a cocktail, grab a cigar, and enjoy!

21 – Adele


Now I will admit that although there truly are no bad songs on this album, there are a couple I tend to skip over. However, the majority of the songs on 21 are REALLY GOOD. This album is so legendary that there’s no way I could leave it off the list. It was the best-selling album of 2011 & 2012….and for good reason.

Adele gave us pop music filled with soul and minus the gimmicks. No sexualized lyrics, no guest rappers, and no bubblegum. This was grown folks music performed by a highly likable and mature young lady. She was a breath of fresh air in the music industry.

“Rolling in the Deep” became a classic that every person on the planet knows, and yet the album still delivered even more amazing tunes like “Set Fire to the Rain,” and “Someone Like You.” This is an album that pulls at the heartstrings and will forever be a favorite among many.

Title (Deluxe Edition) – Meghan Trainor


Meghan has been serving me every ounce of my life over the past year with her debut album, Title. It’s a very happy and sassy album filled with doo-wop flavored tunes fit for a modern day sock hop. I specifically chose the deluxe version because three of the bonus songs (“No Good For You,” “My Selfish Heart,” and “Credit”) are truly the best songs of all and should have been standard on the album. Still, the rest of the album is great.

Her fun and risque lyrics will have you raising an eyebrow at times. Plus, she totally changed the game with her lead single and thick girl anthem, “All About That Bass.” 50s style harmonies, racy lyrics, and colorful videos, what is there not to love about M-Train and her fabulous album?!?!

Rockferry – Duffy


Rockferry is not only my fave album of the past 10 years; It’s also my favorite album of all time. I’ve laughed with this album, felt inspired by this album, and I’ve cried to it more times than I’d like to admit. This is THE tormented lover’s album. Being that I was unhappily in a relationship at the time this album was out, it spoke volumes to me.

Now, Duffy’s voice is highly unique. It was almost too unique for me at 1st, but I got used to it. Her voice really compliments the throwback soul sound of this album quite nicely. “Warwick Avenue” has to be one of the best songs ever recorded, & her tear-filled video for it is absolutely perfect. If you don’t own (or at least stream this album from time to time), then you are truly doing yourself a disservice.

What do you think of these albums?
What have been some of your faves over the years?
Toddley wants to know 🙂

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Album image credits.

Lady Gaga: “Lady Gaga – The Fame album cover” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Beyonce: “Beyoncé – B’Day” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Mayer Hawthorne: “Mayer Hawthorne A Strange Arrangement” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Mariah Carey: “Mariah Carey – The Emancipation of Mimi” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Amy Winehouse: “Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (album)” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Zac Brown Band: “ZBB-Uncaged” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Melody Gardot: “MGardot Thrill” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Adele: “Adele – 21” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Meghan Trainor: “Meghan Trainor – Title (Official Album Cover)” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Duffy: “Duffy – Rockferry (album)” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –


Just One More Hour Please

wall clock Beck

Time management is no joke! I swear ever since I started back going to school full-time, I feel like I’m always a day late & a dollar short. There’s never enough days in the week or hours in the day. I work 3-4 days a week, clocking in 20-26 hours, and I’m taking 4 classes. With each class requiring roughly 10 hours of my time each week, I end up devoting 60-66 hours weekly to work and school. How in the world did I get myself into this?

I don’t like working over 20 hours at my job. Don’t get me wrong, the paycheck be cute. However, those 6 extra hours make a big difference in my week. Those are 6 extra hours I need to make sure I get my Program Design homework submitted in time. Those are 6 hours worth of naps that I’ve lost and won’t get back :-/ or 6 hours I could use to take a break to watch some Netflix throughout the week and work on this blog.

Oh yeah, the blog takes up time too. Trying to write every week is a challenge in itself, but promoting Chat and Sip is a time-consuming ordeal. Now that I’m really in the thick of school, I don’t devote nearly as much time to pumping up this blog like I did when I first started. I just don’t have time to scour Twitter all day trying to get new followers, and Toddley dang sure ain’t got no money to be paying for advertising. The bank account is not on fleek these days. 😮 I mean, I’m not necessarily trying to be the next Perez Hilton or Just Jared anyhow, but I still don’t want Chat and Sip to just lie around at the bottom of the internet collecting dust. Some would probably argue that the blog isn’t a necessity, but it really helps me stay sane.

I just need to get my schedule in check. In all actuality, it’s not even time management that’s the real issue. I can and do make a nice schedule for myself to handle all these classes while working, but I just don’t really stick to it. A schedule is like a budget. You can bust out the calendar and set up the perfect schedule or study your bank account(s) and create an excellent, money-saving budget. However, if you don’t stick to that schedule or budget, then it doesn’t mean a hill of beans. (Okay, I went straight southern with that one. Lol. Translation: Then it doesn’t do you any good).

My real problem is that I struggle to stay focused. Sometimes I swear I have ADD. I really battle sometimes to stay focused with my studying. I’m starting to need energy drinks to stay alert and not fall asleep. My Information Security class is so damn boring that it takes me hours longer to do my assignments than it really should. I start reading about “Denial of Service attacks”, and I just want to toss that thick a$$ book to the side and go watch an episode of Cupcake Wars instead. If you suffer from insomnia, you need to buy yourself a book on Information Security. Start reading that just before you go to bed, and trust me, you will be out like a light in no time. Nothing says I’m sleepy quite like pages and pages about Host-based Intrusion Detection & Prevention Systems. #smh #boreborebore. I pretty much go to Starbucks at least once a week now to study. I know I won’t take a nap there.

Anywho, how good are you at managing your time? What are some tricks to help you stay on schedule when you’d rather be doing something else with your time? Toddley would love to know 🙂


Happiness (Part 1)

Happiness is a choice. I have a wooden placard on the bottom of my entertainment center with that exact statement engraved on it. Although life can throw situations at us that cause uncontrollable unhappiness, for the most part, I truly do think happiness lies in our own hands.sunflower stuffed toy

I’ve mentioned before that I battle with social anxiety disorder. It’s something that has definitely been a root cause of unhappiness for me for many years. (A few blogs down the road, I will go into more details about my social anxiety). I try to be a positive guy, but sometimes it is hard. It’s been a struggle for me to stay positive over the last few years. I’ve dealt with breakups, dead end low-paying jobs, broken music dreams, and a job layoff…all on top of struggling with overall self-confidence. Things could have been worse; I won’t deny that. There are people out there facing hardships that I couldn’t even begin to imagine, but that still doesn’t discredit my own struggles. What’s a minor nuisance to one person, can be a major difficulty to someone else. So, I never judge people in regards to their struggles. You never really know how hard internally it may be for a person to cope with something.

Surprisingly though, despite all the distress I’ve felt over the past few years, I still sincerely believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know where this light is coming from, but I swear I can faintly see it.

I feel lost many times. I’m in school now, and I’m proud to be educating myself and working towards a new career. Still though, sometimes I question my decision to go back to college. I wonder….did I choose the right major? Did I make a mistake taking out student loans? Will I get a good job? Can I really stick with this for four years? Why am I putting so much work into this instead of music? Should I just drop out and go be a truck driver? Will my parents be proud of me? These are questions I sincerely ask myself. I literally have to be my own shrink sometimes, when my mind starts thinking too much.

I have a dream I’m trying to fulfill though, and I’m trying my best not to let myself get off track. I really have a number of dreams. The overall dream though is to build a solid foundation for myself, and I honestly don’t think I can get it without some sort of education. I want to build a life of happiness.

Happiness…that word means different things to different people. Personally, I don’t think there’s one thing that makes a person happy. Happiness comes from a variety of things. To be truly happy, one has to be happy emotionally and financially as well happy in one’s career and relationships including family, friends, your significant other, and most importantly, the relationship with yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you’ll never allow yourself to receive happiness in all the other areas of your life. I know this all too well.

Anyhow, I could write forever on the topic of happiness. In fact, we might have to make this blog into a mini series. This is part 1. I’ll continue with part 2 either next week or in a few blogs from now 😉

Do yall have any thoughts on this thus far? What makes you happy? Do you think happiness is a choice? Toddley wants to know 🙂

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Religious Freedom or Selfishness???

Now, normally I stay away from discussions involving religion or politics, but this story about the Kentucky Clerk was irking my nerves too much to not talk about it. I needed a big ole glass of wine to process this one. I’m sure most of you have heard about this story. I’ve included a link below to NBC news so you can read all about it. In short, a county clerk in Kentucky named Kim Davis was refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This was after the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal nationwide too. She ended up getting arrested, jailed for a number of days, and finally got released today. Mrs. Davis and her lawyer were trying to say that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated her religious freedom. Ummm…..what?????? Boo, you gonna have to give me something better than that.

Now, let me acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Everyone is also entitled to their own religious views. That’s what religious freedom is all about. It doesn’t bother me at all that Mrs. Davis doesn’t accept homosexuality. I’m a gay man myself, but I still respect her views. I don’t agree with her views, but I do respect her feelings. We’re not all required to think the same way.

However, I have a problem with her forcing her views onto others, and that’s exactly what she’s doing by refusing marriage licenses to the LGBT community. You can’t use religion as a reason to not do your job. Religious freedom doesn’t mean you have the right to break the law & deny someone of their right to a marriage just because YOU feel the marriage is a sin. #NotCool. If you have a problem with issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, then you need to start looking for a new career, Boo! It doesn’t matter how many years you may have worked at that office. It doesn’t matter how much you love your job or how comfortable you have gotten from working there for so long. None of that is society’s problem. Either do your job or get the hell on. Perhaps she would be better suited working as a nun or a teacher at a Christian Academy.

Religious Freedom means you have the right to practice any religion you choose or to not practice religion at all. ( details it quite nicely). It doesn’t mean you get to force your views on others when their views conflict with yours.

Personally, I don’t feel her decision was all about religion. I sense it was probably more out of general homophobia than religious beliefs. I wonder if a couple that was of Buddhist faith decided to come to her office to get a marriage license, would she deny them a license because their Buddhist views don’t coincide with her Christian views? Who knows. My gut tells me that couple would’ve left her office with a marriage license in hand though. But, I could be wrong :-/

I just feel like if you’re going to play the religious freedom card, then you better play it fairly. That means you have to realize that just as you have the right to believe whatever you choose to believe, others have the same right to the believe whatever they choose to believe. You can disassociate yourself with someone with opposing views on your personal time, but when it comes to business and the law, your religious views have to take a backseat. In this country, church and state are separate, and people tend to forget that. It’s not like Mrs. Davis owned a little, independent bakery and decided to not make a wedding cake for a gay couple because it went against her religious views. Even though a decision like that would bother me, I get it, and she would legitimately have the right to deny that couple service. However, she doesn’t have that kind of power where she works. She grants marriage licenses for a living, and she can’t override the Supreme Court. Plain and simple.

Anyhow, I hope one day this world will become more accepting to everyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or other unique characteristics. I say do what you want and believe what you want. As long as you’re not harming anyone else or spreading hatred, it’s all good with me. #SpreadLoveNotHate. What are your views on this story? Toddley would love to know 🙂


NBC News:


American Civil Liberties Union:

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I Love Being Single…I Think

It’s another Monday night of fast food and fatigue. Mondays are a taxing day for me. I’m up at 5am to start work at 6am, and I have class at night on campus. Every Monday also follows my tiring schedule of 3rd shift hours on both Saturday and Sunday. By the time it reaches 9pm on a Monday night, I’m freaking beat! Things could be worse though, so I’m grateful.

As I write this blog, I’m sipping on a glass of Frontera brand Vintage Red wine. It’s cheap wine, but I like it. It serves its relaxation-inducing purpose. I also have the soothing, sweet sounds of 1960s Dionne Warwick playing in the background. As she eloquently serenades me with the lyrics of “Make It Easy On Yourself,” I can’t help but reflect on being single. This is the 1st time in years that I’ve been completely single….as in I’m not even dating, talking to, or “friends with benefitting” anyone. Overall, I love my freedom. It’s such a pleasure not to have to worry about anyone but myself. No arguments, no compromising, no wondering if they’re telling the truth, no worrying about if they’re cheating, no having to spend extra money on dates all the time….and most importantly, I have the bed all to myself 😉 I do what I want, how I want, whenever I want, and it’s fabulous!

However, there is one thing that being in a relationship provides that a pet, a career, money, partying, a hobby (or anything else we single people focus on to take our minds off of being single) simply can not. Companionship! Now don’t get me wrong, pets can be great companions, and they can certainly alleviate the loneliness of a night at home alone. But no matter how much I may talk to my dog and ask for her input, she just never has anything to say. Lol.

I miss having that one person around that I can always talk to. Whether I’m sad, pissed off, happy, or insanely excited, it’s nice to have that one person who’s always just as happy to provide a listening ear as you are to have them listen. Now that I’m juggling school, work, and living alone on an incredibly tight budget, I find myself wishing that I had a companion’s shoulder to lean on. Yes, I have friends and family, and I certainly do use them. But, it’s not the same as talking to your significant other. This is my 3rd semester in school, and I’m learning that the semesters are not getting any easier. They’re actually getting more challenging. I can’t help but wish for a partner to keep me encouraged.

Thankfully though, I’ve learned to be my own life coach. Every moment I feel like I want to quit, I give myself a pep talk and remind myself that despite all the stress, hard work will always pay off in the end. So although I may long for a significant other from time to time, I know I don’t need one to keep me focused on my journey. Still, it sure would be nice sometimes to have someone along for the ride 🙂

What are your thoughts? If you’re single, what do you miss most about a relationship? What do you love most about being single? If you’re in a relationship, do you miss anything about being single? Toddley wants to know.

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My Neighbor Won’t Stop Having Sex :-/

Omg yall! I have been having a little trouble sleeping recently. Almost every night between 10pm-12am (sometimes later), all I’m hearing is squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak…..and I’m not talking about a mouse. No, it’s my neighbor’s squeaky ass bed. For a week straight, I’ve been subjected to the lovemaking sessions of the lady that lives above me. It’s driving me bananas!

I didn’t even know she was seeing anyone. She’s always by herself whenever I see her, and I never hear a man in her apt. However, last week when all this sexing started, I finally saw a guy with her. As they left her apt, I started to ask, “Are y’all gonna let me get some sleep tonight?”

They did it Tues night, Wed night, Thurs night, took a break Friday, had afternoon sex on Sat, then went back to nighttime sex on Sun. And yes, they did it Mon night (last night) as well.

Now, I’m not hating. For the longest time, she hasn’t had anyone laying her pipe, or at least not that I could hear. I would very randomly hear her getting some action back in the day. And whenever she was getting some, you DEFINITELY knew it! She was VERY vocal! I thought for sure a few times that she was filming a flick up there.  Thankfully, she’s been a lot quieter with her recent sexcapade. The bed is loud enough. I couldn’t handle hearing both her and the bed. It’s not only the annoying squeak of the bed, but you can hear the headboard banging against the wall too. They are putting that poor bed to the test!

I don’t know…I’m happy she’s found her a farmer to plow her field, but Honey, you still have neighbors that don’t want to listen in on you and your man every night. I don’t know what to do. I’m in school, & I work early morning shifts. Her lovemaking conflicts with my sleep schedule. Should I say something? Should I just bang the ceiling with my broomstick to try to quiet them down? I just hope their lust dies down sooner than later. Have you ever shared a similar experience? What would you do if your neighbor kept having loud sex every night??? Toddley wants to know 🙂

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