Self, Health And Wellness

5 Albums That Helped Pull Me Out Of My Depression

Photo: Elijah O'Donnell on unsplash
music albums depression recovery

Why does music have such power over our emotions? And why do we resort to playing our favorite song whenever we feel happy, sad or angry?

One thing’s for sure, music has been an influence on my life since the beginning.

From what I can remember, I have always found joy in listening to music and singing. It was the ultimate out-of-body escape even at a young age. My parents were the main people to influence my love for the art in itself, from introducing me to a range of genres such as rock and roll, hip-hop and R&B/soul.

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As I grew older, and I experienced the uglier side of the world around me, I dealt with an influx of negative feelings and emotions. The constant battle between what was good and bad for me was persistent. I was discouraged for a long time because of how many times I had fallen down on my face.

It was only a short while after my "enough is enough" stage where I learned what would help with what I was dealing with.

Music had been one of the reasons why I ever had a smile on my face; it was there when I celebrated my victories, and it was there when I felt like my world was crumbling. It was there to listen to me cry, laugh, and feel free.

I want to disclaim I am not saying music has completely cured what I am going through. Although music has been a great help in dealing with my emotions and thought process, depression is a serious mental health condition that requires tedious care and attention. If you or someone you know is going through this, please do not hesitate to seek help from a licensed professional, family or legal guardian.

It is easier to only give you a list of albums that have helped me through the lowest points of my life, but I want to give you guys an insight into how these artists and their incredible music-making abilities have pulled me out of an overflowing pool of emotions. Here are my top 5 albums that saved me from the storm and helped me through my depression recovery.

1. Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin’ by Kid Cudi

In 2016, Kid Cudi released his sixth studio album and it shook the core of many listeners. Cudi has always been transparent about his struggles with addiction, depression and his overall well-being. This is one of the key reasons why his fan base has grown an immense love and appreciation for the 35-year-old.

The first song I heard of the album was “All In,” a cosmic journey through sound and emotion. The first couple of seconds took me by the hand, ever so gently, and guided me towards a scenic view of a world of unimaginable bliss. Cudi has a way of producing sounds that tug at your heart and body, especially with his infamous hums that make anyone feel good. The beginning verse, “Hold on, let me explain. Sometimes I just don’t know what to believe. And I hate the things that I said, I didn’t mean them” holds so much power into my life.

I have found great difficulty in piecing together how I feel at a certain moment. And sometimes, I slip up and say something I don’t mean. This song and the entire album gave me an incredible amount of hope and made me want to change my ways of viewing the world, myself and the people around me. It was a sign that a new me was coming to fruition.

My favorite songs on the album are “All In,” “Dance 4 Eternity,” and “Swim in the Light.”

2. SYRE by Jaden

Son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Smith is a powerhouse who added music on his lengthy and impressive resume. In 2017, “SYRE” was released and I instantly knew I would fall in love with it. A lot of critics have said the debut album was scattered and tried to make sense of itself in every song. However, I believe people (aka me and three of my friends) who have the patience and desire to dissect each song are fully aware that this album offers a new delight throughout the track list.

I really appreciate this album in its entirety, and I have spent almost every day since its initial release listening to every song. However, “Ninety” is a seven-minute specialty that plays itself in my mind nonstop. I appreciate songs that are as long as this one because it shows the power of music; it shows that no matter the length, listeners will be engaged and stay until the end.

The lyrics themselves make me emotional, but the real winner here is the awe-inspiring beat that makes this song my favorite. Any song and album that makes me feel, that is a true winner in my eyes. The emotions I have felt listening to the whole album made me appreciate Smith and his desire to turn heartfelt poems into beautiful music.

Smith’s production is something I hope he sticks with throughout his music career. It is unique, captivating and it sure does receive a lot of attention from people of different musical spectrums.

My favorite songs on the album are “L,” “U,” “Ninety,” and “Lost Boy.”

3. Urban Flora by Alina Baraz & Galimatias

Alina Baraz is an artist I came across in 2015. Baraz has a seductive, soothing voice that would make anyone fall into a trance. With the help of Danish producer Galimatias, Urban Flora is relaxed yet steps into a trippy world full of overlapped beats and sultry lyricism. I came across two songs from the album before it was officially released on Soundcloud. And boy, was I hooked.

This album did not have songs that made me realize my worth or make me see the world from a different perspective. However, it made me feel empowered and totally in control of my confidence. Anytime I listen to this album, I feel like a different kind of confident and it’s amazing. When I sing these songs, I can feel my face and heart light up with the confidence I have searched for, for years.

For those of you who are in relationships or even those who encounter a casual hookup every now and then, this is the perfect album to set the mood. You will instantly feel your body relaxed as Baraz’s voice brings both of you into a pool of satisfaction.

My favorite songs to play for you and that special someone is, “Make You Feel,” “Drift,” and “Maybe.”

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4. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar is the artist of our generation who stands for the people and power of thyself. It’s no wonder two years after To Pimp a Butterfly was released, we were incredibly eager to see what Lamar was delivering on his fourth studio album. When DAMN. opens with an outwardly innocuous line “So I was taking a walk the other day…” I had my pen and pad ready to take notes on Lamar’s declarations.

Lamar is a master storyteller, and I was always intrigued by his insane skills ever since I was first introduced to him. His primary mission is to tell a story, to articulate the specifics of daily self-defense from your surroundings. When I first heard this album from start to finish (as I do with every album I listen to), it grabbed me by the throat and demanded it is respected on every level. This album is blunt, complex and unflinching as the name suggests.

The reason why I respect and cherish this album is because of the power it holds. Yes, that is the world’s biggest cliche, but when I listen to it, I feel nothing but admiration towards Lamar. He is (in my humblest opinion) one of the best artists of all time, and I feel his greatness emitting from his very soul. He pours himself into the mic and lays down the foundation of who he is through his own words and beats.

Everything about what Lamar stands for makes me feel empowered and ready to fight for what is right for myself and my community. If one album can make me feel this way, it sure is the reason I have fallen out of a dark trench.

My favorite songs on the album are “YAH.,” “GOD.,” and “FEEL.”

5. Souled Out by Jhené Aiko

In 2014, I was a senior in high school. During this time, I was in and out of an extremely toxic relationship. During the lead up to that year, I knew the person I became would cause damage to those closest to me because of the pain I had to endure. Aiko released “Souled Out” in September of 2014, and I wished so badly I could personally thank her.

This album helped me realize that even though the darkest times seemed like they would never end, I would never be alone. Aiko, like some of the artists mentioned above, is very open about struggling with addiction, grief but most of all, healing. Each song is Aiko’s story of overcoming a multitude of battles, but at the time, I felt as though they were my own as well. Anytime I hear each of the songs, I remember a certain moment where I felt closest to it. It felt as though I were listening to my story being recounted by my former self in another life.

This record has long moments of instrumentals and honey-soaked melodies. It calms my soul and assures me that, in the words of Aiko, “There’s really no end, there’s really no beginning/There’s really no real, there’s really no pretending.”

My favorite songs on the album are “W.A.Y.S.,” “To Love & Die (feat. Cocaine 80s)”, and “The Pressure.”

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Destiny Duprey is a writer who covers music, self-care, and religion.