I absolutely love writing to music. Even now, as I write this playlist, I'm listening to J. Cole's 2014 Forest Hills Drive
. As I wrote my first book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
, music was in heavy rotation — I needed the perfect balance of music that was upbeat (to stop me from jumping head first out of the glass windows of the coffee shop, where I wrote) and soothingly encouraging (for those moments when I was either blocked or on a roll). Below, you'll find my most frequently played songs.
1. "Flight of the Navigator" by Childish Gambino
I basically had this whole album (Because the Internet) on repeat, but this song in particular fit into the "soothing" category. It's so beautiful and haunting and really helped me during those moments when I needed to just sit back and reminisce.
2. "Haunted" by Beyoncé
The Beyoncé album had just dropped right when I decided to start getting serious about writing this book. I would immediately skip "Pretty Hurts," and this song would put me in the proper mind-set to focus.
3. "Indecision" by Sampha
Another song in the "soothingly encouraging" category, this song's refrain, "Let it allllll work out," really helped during the chapter where I wrote about my African Dad. There were so many moments in this book when I was like, "Ugh, should I share that?" But listening to this song made me feel uninhibited.
4. "Destos Don't Stress Hoes" by OverDoz
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Sometimes you need to feel like you're the sh*t. This song really does that for me. Even though it's absolutely disrespectful to women, I still find it empowering. I remember specifically listening to this song when I wrote "When You Can't Dance," just to put me in that mind-set.
5. "Hold On, We're Going Home" by Drake
This song was sooooooo necessary during that final stretch. The last chapter I wrote was, "Halfrican," and I must have started and stopped SO. MANY. DAMN. TIMES. But leave it to my boo Drake to drive me home. Thanks, boo.
6. "Know Who You Are" by Pharrell
Pharrell funded my second season of Awkward Black Girl and really put his weight behind the show, so I may be a tiny bit biased, but this album was so good. This song, featuring Alicia Keys, put me in such a good, happy state of mind. It put me in the mood to write and do great things.
7. "Bicken Back Being Bool" by YG
I'm a lover of ratchet music. YG is the embodiment of it. His entire album, Compton, served as the perfect soundtrack for my chapter about my own musical aspirations, "Music Ambitions and Failures."
8. "Nightcall" by Kavinsky and Lovefoxx
I actually discovered this song because Childish Gambino sampled it on his Royalty mixtape. Then I remembered it was from the movie Drive, and then I found the Drive soundtrack and it is really a writer's paradise. This song in particular, with the refrain "There's something inside you," really encouraged me!