Music is a secret language that can only be decoded by those with common ground. Whether it be one song or one album, lyrics can hit close to home for pretty much, anyone, regardless of their geographical location. But the most admirable element of music is that it is not all the same! A track could see an artist wearing their heart on their sleeve, whereas another might serve as an anthem to flex heavy or brag about accomplishments. Needless to say, music gives others the gist of who you are, the things you like, don’t like, and potentially, says what you can’t seem to put in words. Playlist comes off as soundtracks to lives. As per Pitchfork, “Approaches to today’s playlists are varied in a way that’s reminiscent of music itself.”
The 11-track playlist that I’ve created is an embodiment of who I am. At most, ‘Who Is Natalee?’ is transparent in the best way. It speaks about a fighting spirit, a heart that extends beyond horizons and an undying grind. Below, I break down why I chose these 11 different tracks and how I relate to the topics at hand.
- Flatbush Zombies – “The Glory”
I’m the type of individual who wants to see everybody eat! If I am succeeding, then those around me will be too because it’s not in my blood to look the other way. If you’re supporting me, I will support you even harder. As part of the chorus goes in this song, “Wanna see you winnin’, I wanna see you get the cash/Wanna see you finish, don’t wanna see you wave the flag/Wanna see you try hard, wanna see you do it big. Raining champagne, huh, ‘long as I could get a swig.” Out of all the verses on “The Glory,” I resonate with Flatbush Zombies member Erick The Architects’, the most. When he says, “When am I even good enough? Acknowledge your friends/Sometimes things get broken, and we argue again/Spent the last 20 minutes all inside of my head,” Erick anonymously showcases my fear of not being the best in all I do. The last line relates to me as well because I’m a constant overthinker. When Erick raps, “Introverted but I’m emergin’, the spark to the flames,” I envision myself at home, declining invites and putting the pen to the pad. In turn, I’ve gained great opportunities.
2. Ama Lou – “Northside”
Paying homage to the city that’s always looking out for her, Ama Lou commemorates North London in “Northside.” Throughout the track, Ama Lou also talks about fighting through writer’s block and staying optimistic! The following verses connect with me, “‘ Cause I know the Northside is looking out for me/I wanted to cry, but there’s nothing to make me/Going in circles, I thought I was really finished,” and “Either way, you complain, I still work till nine today/Understand your heartfelt shame/I was once the same damn way.” These excerpts, in particular, express how grateful I am to have support from my loved ones. The second piece shows off my empathetic side. Though a situation may be rough, I try to make the best of it, and usually, I want others around me to do the same.
Five years ago, I experienced the worst loss imaginable. My mother had passed away during my junior year in high school, and honestly, at times, it’s hard to cope. But aside from this, I’ve lost people in my life who I thought would stick by my side forever, including best friends. And I’ve even had moments of doubt when it came to excelling in my passion. Geno Five’s “Gettin’ Through It” showcases the questions that have run through my mind during these dark times. The song also speaks on “finding the silver lining,” a saying that I hold close to my heart when it feels like everything is caving in. He raps at the beginning, “How many people I gotta lose before I lose my mind?” and “I put my faith in a buck when I ain’t have it to spend—hoping to escape my troubles without a dollar or cent.” Jae Flow also speaks volumes when he raps, “Hopefully, everything I’ve gone through is worth it.” This line is something I ask myself almost every day.
4. J. Cole – “Love Yourz”
During an interview with Odyssey, J. Cole broke down the meaning of “Love Yourz.” In short, he said, “There will always be someone better looking, smarter than you, wealthier than you, or better than you overall. One thing that a person will never have is being you. If you cannot love yourself, then you will not appreciate the amazing things that will be coming your way.” This song sheds light on how I view life and how appreciative I am to be here. No matter the circumstances, you never know what the next person is going through. They could potentially be limited to specific goods that someone else has. Count your blessings.
5. Jaden – “Watch Me”
Jaden’s “Watch Me” basically sees the artist in full focus. He worries more about his moves than the next person’s. In turn, this relates to me because no matter what’s going on around me, I work hard to level up, and I refuse to let anyone or anything get in my way. This verse also shows that while he doesn’t have much, he still has love to offer. Like anyone, Jaden has made mistakes and works on trying to mend broken ties. He raps: “I ain’t got much in the bank/I got a lot I could say/Tied up with goddesses, hey/I hope you forgive my mistakes//I try to heal the gods with a band-aid/And in time of need, you call your enemies.”
6. Lil Nas X – “F9mily (You And Me)”
Lil Nas X’s “F9mily (You And Me)” explains in his lyrics, how I’m more of a peacemaker, instead of an instigator. If I see my loved ones in a quarrel of any sort, I’m the one who tries to reconcile them. I just want everyone to get along. Life’s way too short to hold grudges. He raps “Yeah, you and me, my friend, you best believe/We gotta fix this family, you see/It takes two to get to three, relieved/We’re gonna leave here happily/Yeah, you and me, my friend, you best believe.”
7. Saba – “There You Go”
Like Flatbush Zombies’ “The Glory,” Saba says a couple of bars that resonate with my selflessness. He raps, “I’m partially studious, partially ignorant/I’m not here for the 15 minutes/All my team is winning, I’ma need a minute.” I’m an individual who will give credit where it’s due instead of taking the glory for myself. Also, if someone tries talking down on my name, I’m the type that’ll lay out the facts, no cockiness intended.
8. Mick Jenkins – “I’m Convinced”
As a true Scorpio, I’m often skeptical of another’s intentions. Mick Jenkin’s “I’m Convinced” showcases my intolerance for betrayal and mind-games. I, on the other hand, don’t have to convince anyone where my heart lies. My actions speak louder than words, and my loved ones can vouch for this. Jenkins raps, “Don’t need no inconsistencies if we’re gon roll together/Need no convincing niggas to know the feelings/Not too much patience for the violations/From the same cloth/It cut much deeper when it’s my persuasion.” You’re okay in my book if you carry a pure heart.
9. I$h K – “Ignored”
I$h K’s “Ignored” sees the rapper with his eyes on the prize. Like myself, I$h K talks about not giving in to distractions or anything that can hinder his success. Sometimes he comes across others that question his reasoning for going so hard. But in all honesty, if you’re passionate about something, the sacrifices come easy because accomplishing your goal is more important. He raps,” Day and night is how I get mine. I ain’t ever been the type to hold a nigga back when he tried to get it.” As the track moves forward, I$h K also speaks about staying on his P’s and Q’s. This happens to correlate with how I run as well. After all, not everyone has your best interest. Snakes do lie in the grass.
10. Jodie Jo – ”Fire Of Fear”
Jodie Jo’s ”Fire Of Fear” is a reflection of my worries and fears. He says he’s “afraid of being unsuccessful, and all the raps he wrote are just a hope he should’ve let go.” Along the lines, he prays that all his hard work pays off. This is something that runs through my mind every so often as well. What if those nights I spent writing until 6 AM was for nothing? What if I’ve given this too much of what I’ve got?
11. Quis Chandla – ”Growth”
The title speaks for itself. Although I don’t grow physically, I find my mind and views shifting as I get older. But not everyone is accepting of these changes, and have either fluttered away, stick to their stagnant ways or have become outraged. Despite these factors, I protect my energy and work on getting ahead. The most relatable lines are, ”When I’m the biggest child, been trying to break bread with the family and the crew, they know just how I do.” and ”Thinkin’ about the things that I want to achieve, they fighting hangovers and praying for summer leave.”
Listen to the “Who Is Natalee?” playlist below. Thank you for allowing me to share some of my story with you.