I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through my Jesus Year without music to help me channel my feelings, echo my sentiments, and lift my spirits. In this three-part series of posts, I will run through the reasons why each song resonated with me and made it on the “Jesus Year” Jams: The Official Playlist.
1. “Look at Me Now” by Emily King
I wanted to start the playlist off with a bang, and this song is one that always gets me in a dancing mood. I first heard this song in an ad on Snapchat for Bon Vivant seltzer and thought it was Janelle Monaé. I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was Ms. King. The song makes a grand entrance, kind of like a coming out of sorts. The lyrics boast “Did you hear about me? You pushed me around/ But now I’m pushing paper, baby, look at me now. … Did you hear about me? You thought I'd give in/ You try to hurt me, but you'll never do it again/ Look at me now,” It’s like I’m speaking directly to MS. It really thought it was going to keep me down. Psssh. To that I say, “Not on your best day, Mr. MS.”
2. “Optimistic” by Sounds of Blackness
This timeless bop has been boosting my spirits since the ’90s and, dare I say, is in my top five favorite songs of all time. I tried selecting just a couple bars to illustrate the positivity, but literally every lyric in this masterpiece is uplifting. Whenever I’m having a bad day or feeling down, I put this song on and am immediately cured of the doldrums. The chorus — “As long as you keep your head to the sky/ You can win/ Be optimistic” — is an entire mood, mantra and manifesto.
3. “If He Did It Before...Same God” by Tye Tribbett
The church girl in me gets her life whenever this song comes on. The beat goes! But when Tye kicks it off with, “If He did it before, He could do it again,” I am emboldened to believe that whatever trial or tribulation comes my way, I can be victorious. Every. Single. Time. Not by my strength, but through the strength God’s given me.
4. “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan
A certified party starter, “This Is How We Do It” is a song that I know like the back of my hand, down to the ad libs at the end of the song. For some reason, I sing this song in my head when I do my thrice-weekly injections of my disease-modifying therapy. It’s a happy distraction but also a reminder that this is how I maintain control of my MS.
5. “Make Her Say” by Kid Cudi, Kanye West and Common
How my brain works is, whenever I hear a word or a phrase, I immediately think of corresponding song lyrics. Thinking of self-care since my diagnosis and the importance of prioritizing myself, I harken back to when the Cudders says, “Me first.” It’s the confidence with which he declares those two words at the song’s beginning that gets me. Of course, I stick around for the vibes in the remainder of the 3:36-long lyrical odyssey.
6. “Get Like Me” by David Banner, Chris Brown and Yung Joc
Your girl was walking with a boot and then an AFO brace for months while recovering from foot drop caused by my MS. These mobility aids aren’t exactly the most stylish, but trust — I wore the heck out of them. When I was finally able to walk brace-free (Praise God!), I stepped my shoe game up and began collecting Jordans. “Stunt, stuntin’ is a habit, put it in the air” is the chorus playing in my head every time I step out wearing these fly kicks.
7. “Blessed and Highly Favored” by The Clark Sisters
This whole song speaks to my testimony: “He brought me through hard trials/ He brought me through tribulations/ Never let a day go by and not realize/ Had not been for the Lord who was on my side.” In spite of living with MS, I know I am truly blessed and have the Lord’s favor, and this song is a reminder of God’s unfailing hand on my life.
8. “God’s Plan” by Drake
This feel-good jam always brings to mind the ways that God’s plans have caused me to succeed in many ways and different areas of my life. MS was a part of God’s plan for my life, and so are the lessons I’ve learned while living with this chronic illness. Like the song says, “I feel good, sometimes I don’t.” But thank the Lord for giving me the fortitude to press on. Also, one of Drake’s best friends, Noah “40” Shebib, is also MS strong. Gang gang!
9. “Beach Cruiser” by Rob Grimes
My brother is so talented! “Beach Cruiser” is one of my favorite songs he’s made, and I am one of his biggest fans. In my book, I talk about how close we are (in age and relationally) and how my MS has strengthened our bond in some ways. I dare you to not get the hook stuck in your head. It also pays homage to my hometown of San Diego. “New Chucks, new Padre fitted.” Ayyyyy!
10. “Wobble” by V.I.C.
In the first pages of Jesus Year, you will quickly see how important this song is to me. I was in the middle of “wobbling” at a happy hour when I felt pretty intense numbness in my left foot. The incident ultimately led to my MS diagnosis. For a while, standing and walking — let alone “wobbling” — were difficult. Now that my health is stable, I “wobble” every chance I get. You should too! “Wobble baby, wobble baby, wobble baby, wobble (yeah)!”
11. “GLOWED UP” by KAYTRANADA and Anderson .Paak
This song takes me back to Coachella 2017, when I was first introduced to KAYTRANADA. That was pre-MS for me and is one of my favorite vacations spent with some of my favorite girls. I’ve “glowed up” in my own ways since then, and this song will always have a special place in my heart.