Neo-soul music is a genre from the 90s and early 2000s that I love and adore. It’s the mix of R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, and some Jazz that intrigues me and has kept me listening to it for all of my 28 years of life. When did I first fall in love with neo-soul music? I was around five years old, and it was Maxwell’s hit song “Ascension” that had me jammin’ whenever it came on the radio. I won’t say that the neo-soul era has been erased but it has transformed and evolved. Still, something always leads me back to the music created during the neo-soul movement of the past.
Just like music’s ability to evolve and transform, I have done the same, except with less ease and patience. Throughout my journey of self-love, I have had times where I felt lost and I searched for places and spaces to go where I could feel whole again, or where I could feel that I “fit.” When I am dealing with heartbreak, disappointment or loneliness, there is something that has always been there to keep me moving…and that is neo-soul music. Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Maxwell, Lauryn Hill, and The Roots are always there to assist me while I am re-learning how to love myself by helping me remember the things about myself that I love!
I love that this genre of music isn’t like any other. Neo-soul has its own smooth style that stands out among the rest. It also has the amazing ability to connect to others, console others through rough times and good times (like at family BBQs), and has a vibe that is authentic and relatable to people of all ages and all over the world. These characteristics and traits that I love about neo-soul are the same traits that I love about myself.
This is how neo-soul music helps me reconnect to myself. It forces me to remember who I am and to appreciate the things about me that are unique. I have tried many times to stray from this style of music since it’s not seen as “cool” to listen to anymore. Similarly, I have tried many times to stray from my authentic self for various reasons such as rejection, oppression as a black female and rejection in dating. But no matter how many times I try to run away, I always find myself back with Neo-soul; and when I am back with Neo-Soul music I am back with myself. This has been so important to healing throughout my journey of self-love. The lyrics from the songs serve as constant reminders that I am human and I am not the only one who has experienced life difficulties or heartbreak.
There aren’t any people that I know of who doesn’t love music. We can use music to heal during our roughest times by playing our favorite song ever, recognizing the songs that put us in different moods and sing to different feelings (happy, sad, lit, brave, etc.) and creating a playlist just for those moods. For example, I have a playlist called “Feel Good Music” which consists of mostly neo-soul because these are the songs that make me happy and feel good about myself. Music is its own language; so when our friends, family, or partners can’t find the words to help us on our journey of healing, music can speak to us in ways that they cannot. The things we see in our favorite songs or our favorite type of music– the lyrics, the time period that it was popular, the beat, etc.,– have a connection to who we are. When we’re feeling lost or broken, it’s good to have our music to turn on to lead us back to ourselves. I have found the music I love which teaches me to love myself.
What music do you turn to when you need to heal from life and love?
Written By: Kahina Ray
Follow Kahina on Instagram: @soulchild_kay