In the words of Zoe Kravitz’s character in the Hulu Original “High Fidelity,” “making a playlist is a delicate art.” It’s something that has become more of a hobby for me in the past couple of months. Music has always been something that I’ve turned to in order to speak to whatever I’m going through or bring me back to a certain point in my life.
As corny as it may sound, music can even speak to how I’m feeling even when I cannot. When it comes to creating playlists, I like to focus on a specific emotion or even reflect on where I’m at in my life right now and craft together sounds that match the vibe perfectly. I’ve done this a lot for my time at Brandeis. I have playlists that take me back to my days as a young, naive freshman and a stressed-out junior. As I am entering my final two semesters at Brandeis I decided to share with you all what my current fall semester looks like so far. So, here are some of the best songs that have been getting me through this crazy fall semester.
1. “Funny Thing,” Thundercat: With a playful, funkadelic feel, this Thundercat track is one that just boosts my mood almost instantly. It’s honestly one of those songs that I wish were just a little bit longer because I can’t stop replaying it. It really takes me back to the days before the coronavirus pandemic that were spent laughing and hanging out with some of my favorite people.
2. “XS,” Rina Sawayama: “XS” is the third single release from Japanese-British pop singer Rina Sawayama off her debut album “SAWAYAMA,” which was released earlier this year. This song in particular focuses on the growing obsession with consumerism. The album itself almost sounds like it was straight out of the early 2000s—with pop influences similar to lyrical powerhouses like Britney Spears and a hardcore alternative rock sound similar to Korn, “SAWAYAMA” is definitely a multidimensional piece of work that everyone needs to listen to. In addition to the mix of genres throughout the album, Sawayama also speaks about issues like toxic masculinity and racial bias, which makes the project even more important for folks to experience.
3. “SULA (Paperback),” Jamila Woods: In a touching tribute to Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel “Sula,” songwriter and activist Jamila Woods pens a beautiful song about understanding her own identity as a Black woman. I honestly wish I could’ve discovered it sooner. Woods’s voice accompanied by those gorgeous, soft guitar strings just leaves me in a trance every single time.
4. “Closer,” Goapele: This song is a real personal favorite. It’s been one that’s helped me a lot with keeping motivated despite such a wild year. Something about Goapele’s voice over the soft noise just brings a sense of peace over me that’s gotten me through a couple of late-night study sessions. The song is even sampled in the Drake classic “Closer to My Dreams,” another testament to its greatness.
5. “NASTY GIRL / ON CAMERA,” Gunna: First of all… give this song a listen and I’m sure you’ll know why it’s on the list. I’m ashamed to even say that I slept on Gunna until I heard this song. The transition from one song to the other almost gives off an other-worldly feeling, and it definitely gets me and my friends hype whenever we hear it.
6. “Song 33,” Noname: With an opening line like “I got a demon on my shoulder, it’s lookin’ like patriarchy,” Noname is proving that her pen game is still fire. In this less-than-two-minute response to J. Cole’s “Snow on Tha Bluff”—where the rapper criticizes Noname for her political activism—Noname suggests that J. Cole’s criticism is a reflection of his own insecurities about not doing enough for the Black community, and attempts to redirect the attention to more important issues such as police brutality and violence against Black women.
7. “Forgive Me,” Chloe x Halle: Chloe x Halle released their second album “Ungodly Hour” earlier this year which has also been in my list of favorites. You can also catch Chloe x Halle at this year’s Fall Flex event sponsored by the Campus Activities Board (CAB) on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. You can find the RSVP link here, CAB’s Apple music playlist here and Spotify playlist here.
8. “May I,” Flo Milli: Borrowing from Snoop Dogg’s 1994 classic track “Gin and Juice,” “May I” is one of my favorite tracks from Flo Milli’s debut mixtape titled “Ho Why Is You Here?” With quirky punchlines and witty hooks that make for the perfect Instagram captain, Flo Milli is definitely here to stay.
All of the songs that are listed above can be found on all major streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Each of the songs that are listed above speaks to some of the things I’ve gone through so far this semester—all-nighters, jam sessions with my roommates and quick mood boosters for whenever things start to feel all too overwhelming.
Of course, there are a bunch of things that come into creating the ‘perfect’ playlist, some being whether or not each song flows into the next one or if they all fit the exact feel that I’m looking for. What’s on your fall playlist? If you haven’t made one yet, it’s never too late! If you want a little inspiration, you can check out my complete fall playlist here.