3 Songs To Turn Around a Bad Day (Plus 1 Bad Friend Anthem)
I fuckin LOVE music. If you know me, that's a pretty obvious statement, but what you probably didn't know was I am a sucker for R&B music. To be honest, I've written some of my most aggressive lyrics during times where I was exclusively listening to R&B. For example, I wrote the title track to my mixtape Unusual Suspect during a summer where I was rotating between Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles and The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monae. Trust me, now that you know that, when you listen to that song, you'll either react by saying "Oh shit!" or "Damn!". I'm taking all bets.
My point is, even though I'm a rapper, I have a deep connection with R&B music, and I wanted to share some of the songs that for some reason, ALWAYS put me in a great mood. Now I'm not saying the lyrics to these songs are particularly inspirational or spiritual. I've heard these songs hundreds of times and probably couldn't tell you what some of them are about, but it's something about these songs, whether it's the beat, the voice of the singer, or just the energy, that make them a happy reset button for me. I hope they can do the same for you too!
Donell Jones featuring Left Eye - U Know What's Up
This song is a certified JAM! It doesn't matter if this comes on in the car, in the club, at a family reunion, baby shower, bar mitzvah, WHERE EVER, I'm dancing to this song full force.
(however my body interprets that)
This song is so fire, no matter who you are or what your dancing skills are, you can look good vibing out to it. This was proven in the video by Donell Jones himself with these "What the fuck?" moves at 3:21 and 3:28, as well as on the big screen with this iconic scene from Save the Last Dance.
Also, as I write this, it's my first time seeing this video if not in a very long time, ever, and there are so many things I'm just now noticing about the video and the lyrics. For example, LaFace Records, whom which Donell Jones was signed to, was STACKED at the time. Of course they had TLC, represented by Left Eye's feature, as well OutKast, (represented by Big Boi), Usher, the Young Bloodz, and a super young T.I.
Donell Jones' lyrics were smooth, down to Earth, and to the point. He demonstrates the down to Earth aspect by singing about puffin' weed with his friends and flirting with girls. He demonstrates the "to the point" aspect with lyrics like "I'm diggin' you and" "I think I feel a bone coming on" (They don't make romance music like this anymore). This song is classic. The cherry on top is the lyrically poetic verse from Left Eye, in which she glides over the beat like she's skating on butter, with just a hint of a 2Pac influence. If you don't nod your head to THIS song, you're a robot.
Jagged Edge featuring Nelly - Where the Party At
This is the kind of song that can make the coldest winter day feel like a summer in Miami. I'm usually pretty chill at parties, but this track makes me want to yell "Drinks on me!" and run around the party pouring bottle-to-mouth shots.
The music video to this song is equally as lit. Jagged Edge (made up of a set of twin brothers, a Juicy J doppelganger, and a guy with braids) literally land themselves in a wild party. They also quickly show the viewers that even though it's 2001, to the RIGHT track, you can get away with the Temptation-like dance moves that are peppered throughout the visual. The video is full of sexy women, and even they get their two-step on at one point. With so many beautiful women around, it was a little weird that Juicy J's look-a-like spent so much time with the old ladies, but I guess he made up for it at the end by...rubbing ice on a girl's stomach?
You know which one he enjoyed more
Anyway, part of why this song is so infectious is because of recent Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Jermaine Dupri. He served as a writer and producer here and he was on FIRE around this time. But if Dupri was on fire around this time, Nelly was the sun. EVERYTHING he touched around this time went platinum, and his country grammar solidified this song as a hit.
Sunshine Anderson - Heard It All Before
This song is a little different from the other two because I actually always understood and recognized what it was about, but it is similar in that I found a new appreciation for it upon writing this article and watching the video again. With the first two entries on this list, the song pretty much speaks for itself, but for this song, the video really emphasizes how dope the lyrics are and how awesome Sunshine Anderson is.
I really wish Anderson had gotten a bigger push, because she exemplified Black Girl Magic way before social media. She was an HBCU alum (shout out to North Carolina Central), she had her neck roll game on lock, and she literally had Black Girl Magic with the appearance of a voodoo doll in this video. I knew it was really real when at the 2:59 mark, she STOPPED HER SHOW to drag that guy outside and yell his ear off.
Another element that really blew my mind about this video was when I saw her boyfriend start glitching like the little girl in Wreck It Ralph.
Glitchin' is bitchin'
Between appearances from Glitch Guy, you see Sunshine at home on the couch, and gradually, more and more of her friends join her. As the video continues, the viewer can start to see that two different timelines are happening: one where Sunshine is arguing with Glitch Guy and getting ready for a show, and another where Sunshine is hosting some sort of viewing party, and whatever her guests are watching is entertaining AF.
The timeline blatantly intersects at 3:11 when while at home with her friends, Sunshine uses the remote control to pause what Mr. Glitch is doing in their argument going on outside. She can rewind, fast forward, and even erase.
I say blatantly because if you were REALLY paying attention (which I obviously wasn't) you can see Sunshine playing with the remote at the 1:22 mark when she made her boyfriend disappear.That's when it all hit me. Sunshine Anderson is singing HER HEART OUT about possibly one of the worst, most disrespectful guys ever, and that's actually pretty sad. However, instead of pouting and playing the victim role, she asserts herself and shuts that guy down because she is confident in her self-worth. The lives of her and her friends don't revolve around the guys they are dating. When they get together, they have fun. Additionally, Sunshine clearly has her own life. So what if her guy is a dog? She won't let that stop her from having fun with her friends or performing the music she loves.
If you want to see a video and hear a song that is the POLAR OPPOSITE of everything I just said, check out "Chante's Got a Man". This video is mind-boggling on a few different levels, and it kind of makes "Heard It All Before" THAT much better. For instance, instead of women hanging out and having a good time, Chante's video begins with Chante Moore emotion-shaming(?) her friend. "What's wrong with you? I KNOW you got a man." she says. She has a shit ton of attitude in her voice when she says it, and she's implying that no woman should EVER be in a bad mood if she has a man. Her friend says that her man pushed her, and her friends react in shock. Obviously empathizing with her friend, another woman responds, "I don't think there's any good men out there." Chante "Friend of the Year" Moore replies, "There are nice guys out there..." Her friend appropriately responded with "Bitch please!"
Ok, I added the bitch part.
Chante, instead of finding out why her friends would have such a negative outlook on men, doubles down on her statement. Through her lyrics, Chante sarcastically apologizes to her friends and shames them some more for having bad relationships. She goes on to say all of the great things her man has done for her while sprinkling in self-help advice to her friends. By friends, I mean the Cinderella-like step-sisters that Chante clearly hates.
A few things about this song are extremely ironic. For one, this song was written for Chante Moore's then husband, actor Kadeem Hardison, famous for the sitcom A Different World. If you watched the video all the way to the end, no, that is not her husband. Isn't that weird? If she needed an actor for the video, why not hire her husband, an actual actor, who also happened to be the subject of the song!? Maybe he also felt some type of way, because they divorced a year after the song was released. Also, for this song to be about how happy Chante is to have a man, it sound's super sad! Especially in comparison to "Heard It All Before", and that song is literally about a terrible guy.
Which brings me back to the genius of that song. All of these years, I have been jammin' out to one of greatest women empowerment songs of all time. I always knew I was a male femenist.
I plead the 5th