In the event that you require some motivation to help hold your emotional well-being under tight restraints, here are a couple of state of mind boosting records from some of our favorite artists in hip-hop and r’n’b.
To many of us, the month of May signifies a fresh start, thanks to the arrival of spring, and excitement for the season that follows: summer.
The thought of sunshine and warm weather can sometimes be enough to uplift your mood and get you out of any winter blues. Sometimes, though, the impending rays of Vitamin D are not enough.
Sometimes music is the answer to bringing you up when you feel down, sometimes it’s just a matter of having a friend or family member reach out to you– other times, it’s more serious.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and for that reason if no other, take the time today to think about how you are taking care of your mental, and make an effort to do a reach out to a family member or friend, whether or not you think they need a reach out.
We can all make this a habit beyond just the month of May.
Our way of reaching out today is through music.
In the words of Bob Marley, “One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain.”
If you or someone you know needs to speak with someone, please remember you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline any day or time — 1-800-273-8255. For more information or tools to help cope, check out the Mental Health Awareness website here.
Tupac “Keep Your Head Up”
A Hip Hop classic and all-time picker-upper, “Keep Your Head Up” is the song you need to do just that: Keep Your Head Up. What makes this song so powerful is how personal the lyrics are. It feels as though Tupac is speaking directly to you, rubbing your back and letting you know everything will be alright. Tupac cares, if don’t nobody else care.” For those experiencing loss, hardships or seeking the courage to keep going, this track is for you.
Destiny’s Child “Survivor”
“Survivor” is the song you need to prove the haters wrong. When it feels like the weight of the world is crushing you down, “Survivor” is an anthem to push forward. This song can apply to a lot of situations including a break-up with somebody who (obviously) never deserved you in the first place. In moments of weakness, this song is the ultimate reminder that you will weather through the storm because you are a survivor, as cliche as it might sound.
Michael Jackson “You Are Not Alone”
The late Michael Jackson always knew exactly how to put a smile on our faces. “You are Not Alone” focuses on loneliness, grief and loss. It allows us to reflect during such times and remember that we are never truly alone. Do not be afraid to reach out to friends or family in your time of need.
Eminem “Lose Yourself”
The iconic song that soundtracks Eminem’s 2002 film 8 Mile. This song speaks on the importance of never giving up when the going gets tough. It’s about resilience, ambition and the hardships often endured when chasing your dreams. A hard-hitting melody carrying meaningful story-telling lyricism, “Lose Yourself” urges you to never stop fighting for the things you want in life, by any means.
Lupe Fiasco “The Show Goes On”
Moving forward is an essential part of growth. When things do not work out the way we want to, or life comes at us unexpectedly, allowing ourselves to move forward is key. This is exactly what rapper Lupe Fiasco conveys in his champion-esque anthem, “The Show Goes On”: a song which will help you keep your eyes on the prize and focus on your purpose.
Sabrina Claudio “Confidently Lost”
21-year old muse Sabrina Claudio soothes us with this R&B tune emphasizing on time alone and self-care. This is the perfect song to listen too, perhaps in your bath tub or even while going for a walk. “I’m alone, but I’m not lonely” – a powerful statement with which the songstress begins the song. The most important relationship one can ever have is with oneself, and thus taking the time to be alone and unwind is often the best method of stress relief and self-care.
Lupe Fiasco “Hip Hop Saved My Life” (ft. Nikki Jean)
How did Hip Hop save your life? Rapper Lupe Fiasco hits us with another hit for the dream-chasers with this song. As Fiasco even states in the beginning “this one right here goes to my homie with the dream.” Hence, this track may speak profoundly to those out there with musical dreams: rappers, lyricists, singers and so on. Regardless, this song remains a source of motivation to anyone in need of it.
Ludacris “Runaway Love” (ft. Mary J Blige)
This 2006 hit accompanied by Mary J. Blige weighs in on heavier topics such as substance abuse, teen pregnancy and sexual assault. Though sensitive in nature, Ludacris offers positivity, hope and empathy to anyone undergoing personal difficulties.
Eminem “Not Afraid”
Fear is something we all experience. Furthermore, it is often the root cause of stress and anxiety. In “Not Afraid” Eminem challenges us to be brave and face our fears head on. Slim Shady offers words of encouragement by reminding us of our ability to conquer our demons, no matter how scary these may be.
Nas “I Can”
Believing in yourself plays an essential role in achieving success. In “I Can,” Nas wants to let you know you can achieve anything you set your mind too if you believe in yourself. An early 2000’s smash hit and Hip Hop favourite, “I Can” gives you the extra push needed to keep faith in yourself and fulfill your potential.
Kendrick Lamar “Alright”
There is no question as to why this Kendrick Lamar hit was blasted through citizen protests, specifically Black Lives Matter vigils. “Alright” is a lyrically charged song catering to anyone who has ever felt wronged or defeated by external circumstances. K Dot makes it a point to let us know that no matter what goes down, “If God got us, then we gon be alright.”
Kanye West “Good Life” (ft. T-Pain)
For lovers of the old ‘Ye, the T-Pain-featured jam “Good Life” is another song for the hustlers and dream chasers out there. “I go for mine, I got to shine” is a sentence many of us need to hear to keep pushing for that dream.
Kendrick Lamar “I”
It is said that self-love is the best kind of love and the song “I” vividly embodies this concept. When undergoing stress and dire circumstances, it is easy to be hard on yourself. However, flaws are what make us beautifully human & accepting oneself is essential.
Notorious B.I.G. “Juicy”
A Biggie classic chronicling the Brooklyn lyricist’s rise to fame. Both an inspiring and humbling track dedicated to the underdogs and dream chasers. This track serves as a reminder that your present circumstances do not rule out your potential to achieve great things. So go on and chase those dreams, regardless of where you are starting.
Ice Cube “It Was A Good Day”
Sometimes to best way to see the good in life is by counting our blessings. In “It Was a Good Day”, West Coast rap pioneer Ice Cube reflects on all the simple things, which could have gone awry, that made his day good. After all, happiness often lies in appreciating the little things.
Nicki Minaj “Fly” (ft. Rihanna)
A Nicki Minaj and Rihanna-glazed track for the warriors feeling defeated. As RiRi sings “I came to win, to fight, to conquer, to rise,” we are reminded of our power and resilience as individuals capable of doing so much more than we think. “Fly” is the anthem which encourages us to get back up every time we fall.
Notorious B.I.G. “The Sky is The Limit” (ft. 112)
Another classic from Biggie Smalls, “The Sky is the Limit” places no limitation on a dream. In fact, it advocates that no dream is too big and to unapologetically aim high in life. With hard work, faith and resilience, opportunities are endless.
Beauty may lie in the eye of the beholder, but in “Beautiful” Eminem wants to highlight beauty in all of us. Em emphasizes that our scars, quirks and individuality is what makes us uniquely beautiful, and it’s all worth embracing. The song carries a positive message of self-love and self-acceptance.
Cassidy “Drink N’ My 2 Steps” (ft. Swizz Beatz)
In October 2006, Philly rapper Cassidy underwent serious injuries following a car accident. “Drink N’ My 2 steps” was the song resulting from his miraculous recovery. Carrying vocals from super-producer Swizz Beatz, this track is quite inspiring considering everything Cassidy went through beforehand, and makes us more appreciate life even more.
Logic “1-800-273-8255” (ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid)
Dedicated to suicide prevention and directly promoting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” featuring Canadian artist Alessia Cara (“Here”) and Khalid (“Location”) caters specifically to mental health, above all else. It serves as a call-to-action for anyone going through mental distress or duress in a straight-forward way. The three artists not only managed to create a hit single here, but one with an important message.
SZA “20 Something”
Finishing this list with SZA’s powerful CTRL track “20 Something” is necessary. Your 20s set the stage of what is generally a defining decade, full of ups, downs, and inherently transformative. SZA conveys the normalcy of not having your shit together in your 20s, so don’t worry: messy breakups, attempting to sustain friendships, acquiring a steady income and the list goes on. Despite the difficulty or stresses of being a 20-something, SZA provides a song we can empathize with and relate to, making this song poignant to play during a particularly stressful 20-something day– just something that reminds you, we all go through it, and what’s more, we’ll get through it.