Is your life a never-ending soundtrack? Consider this, have you ever stood outside your shower, butt naked, with the hot water running as you scroll through YouTube for the perfect shower playlist? How about standing at your front door with the door ajar, while you stare intensely at your phone searching for the perfect song to carry you across the threshold? If you answered yes to both questions, congratulations, my friend, your life is a never ending soundtrack! Or, like me, you suffer from the occasional bout of depression. I don’t know about you, but I thank God for music because it literally soothes my soul.
They say music can soothe the savage beast, so perhaps it can provide aid to soothe the beast 2021 has already proven to be. If Hagrid can use it for Fluffy, I definitely think it can be applicable here. For those of you unfamiliar, that was a Harry Potter reference and Fluffy is a huge three-headed dog that Hagrid used to pacify the beast. I guess you could say he used a bit of musical therapy.
While researching about music therapy, I came across an article by the American Music Therapy Association where Jodi Picoult, author of the bestselling book Sing You Home was quoted, “Music therapy, to me, is music performance without the ego. It’s not about entertainment as much as its about empathizing. If you can use music to slip past the pain and gather insight into the workings of someone else’s mind, you can begin to fix a problem. ” I have found that a lot of artists today are moving beyond that constant state of ego. Having said that, the list I have cultivated today, is not what would be considered certified musical therapy, but to my generation, predecessors, and generations to come, music is therapy. I do believe that within the context of what Picoult said, it can act as an aid to emotional stability in emotionally tumultuous times. As we stand on the cusp of Black History month, I feel that it’s my duty to introduce you to some life giving tracks, from The Internet’s Hive album, to Sampa The Great, and Chaka Khan that you can find on music platforms such as Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, Pandora, YouTube, or Apple music that are perfect for the year ahead of us.
- Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On?
This song speaks to the activist in me. Gaye was a story teller with his finger to the pulse of society. His well-layered vocals and melody reverberate through my soul and his somber lyrics still resonate today. The numbers for Covid-19 are rising and there is still a very clear line of fear and injustice running rampant through society. The mere reaction to Black lives matter protests versus the storming of the Capital are highlights of racial injustice and civil unrest. What’s really going on? This song may not be as uplifting as you may have hoped, but some truths are uncomfortable, but necessary to face.
2. Alicia Keys (feat. Khalid)- So Done
This is the most recently produced song on this list and the first time I heard it, I knew immediately that would become a favorite. The chorus repeats “I’m living the way that I want” almost like a mantra. It’s a mantra I can live by. 2021 is the year that I manifest all the things I desire to see this year without the censorship of others or the need for approval. Let’s live the unapologetically authentic life we want this year.
3. Solange- Things I Imagined/ Down With the Clique
I remember the night this album dropped very clearly. It was midnight in 2018 and I was in bed at my dads when I saw that she dropped an album. I was ecstatic and I stayed up past midnight to finish the entire album in one sitting. For anyone who is a fan of Solange and her work on this album, you understand the importance of experiencing the album all at once. This song, however, stood out to be because at the time, I was just beginning my study of manifestation and visualizing the life I want to see. It was like I was receiving a sign from Spirit that I was well on my way.
3. SZA- Good Days
SZA’s Good Days is a sad girls vibe. This R&B gem is a bluesy pick me up. A reminder, if you will, that good days are ahead, even if they only exist in our minds. We may not be able to get out and move as freely as we once were, but maintaining a healthy mental space can do wonders for one’s approach to life and she highlights the struggle of that beautifully with this song.
4. AWA- Like I Do
Self-love has made its way to the forefront of the conversation in 2020 and this song is the perfect personification of that. Every lyric in this song emanates the line she sings, “I’m gonna love me loud”. Sometimes we as woman forget who we are. We forget our value in relationships, especially romantic ones, and this song acts as a reminder that we are all the love we need and anyone else’s love should be an addition to the love we give ourselves.
5. The Internet- Roll (Burbank Funk)
Every playlist needs a fun song and Roll Burbank Bounce is that song for me. It has that classic roller rink feel that gets me all nostalgic for childhood days at Branch Brook Roller Rink in my hometown of Newark, New Jersey. When I play it, I can’t help but tap a toe, nod my head, groove to the beat, or all three at once. I think you’ll do the same, you’ll thank me later!
8. Big K.R.I.T.- Energy
I came across this song on my YouTube one day and instantly fell in love with the melodic riffs of Jill Scott. That woman can sing like no other! If the song was her on a loop and nothing else, I would’ve been satisfied, but I was then pulled in even further with the message: intention and direction of one’s energy. If you like Houston rap with a message, this is certainly the track for you.
6. Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman
This song is like the perfect wake up and go song, the family reunion song, the go to girls night karaoke song. I mean it’s Chaka! How could you not love her? Her songs inspire so much nostalgia for me and this one in particular reverberates a frequency of power and feminine energy. I love it!
7. Sampa The Great- Energy
In the same vein of feminine energy, I had to include another song titled Energy. Both songs were created by spiritually in tune artists, but this one brings the feminine energy to the forefront of the conversation. She praises the female intuition and ambition, as should you!
9. Toni Jones- No Is Bae
My mom was beyond excited to share this affirmations album and after hearing this song, I wholly understand why. After taking an Enneagram test today, it confirmed a prior personality test I took that said I am a caregiver. This outcome translated to me giving of myself almost to my detriment when I don’t establish boundaries. If you have trouble saying, “no” and telling people what you can and cannot do, this track is certainly for you. I can not tell you how vital learning how to say “no” has been in my life. The lesson of self-assertion has been instrumental in maintaining my mental and emotional health. The establishment of healthy work boundaries allows me to be the best version of myself for those who employ me as well as my family and friends.
10. Koffee- Toast
Gratitude is a running theme in my life and marrying that theme within a reggae song is the cherry on top. The whole song is a vibe. Life may not be perfect, but it is worth living and the best way to live it is with gratitude. You can start by opening a window for some fresh air and follow that up with being thankful that the weekend is finally here! Cheers!