The album that changed my life

Pretty heavy handed statement right?

Music has this amazing nostalgic, motivational, life-altering power that only art can possess (in my opinion). Beyoncé’s self titled album came into my life and totally shifted my world.

Don’t tell me that’s not some real shit, because I felt it.

I was in my final year of college and I was sitting in a basement editing suite with no windows with my best friend Sam. We were watching the series of video Beyoncé put out to go with her self titled album. We supposed to be working, but she wanted me to watch this one in particular. It may sound cheesy, but we both cried, and I think it’s because this video is full of things we needed to hear that day.

I was definitely having an early-twenties crisis most of that year (that’s what you call it I guess when you doubt everything, especially yourself). Every day I would tear into myself relentlessly, and drown anything good in negativity. I felt like I was failing everywhere I looked, when I was really just learning.

Every new project was an ordeal because of this outlook. I was stunting my own creativity. My brain was screaming at itself constantly, and it was all self-inflicted.

“You’re never too good to lose…it happens when it needs to happen and you need to embrace those things.”

There’s something about those words that humbled me at that time. And even if I didn’t notice a change right away, I started listening to this album more. Not one or two tracks, but the whole damn thing. Even after I graduated, and Lemonade came out, I still came back to this album.

Her vision for the self titled album, the concept of a visual album with no lead-up hype, and the creativity behind the idea, inspired me. It reminded me of creative purity, and making something better  the less you try to “produce” it. Doing something purely based on vision and instinct was a feeling and idea I lost touch with, and slowly found my way back to.

This album taught me a lot about myself, bottom line. If that’s cheesy then fine. Go watch the movie to go with Lemonade. You can’t disagree that changed the game.

IF YOU WON’T LISTEN TO THE WHOLE DAMN ALBUM, JUST LISTEN TO THESE FIVE SONGS:

  • PRETTY HURTS — While the lyrics are pretty simple, I fell in love with the message of this track first. She talks about the song in the video above, and mentions all the sacrifices she made when she was younger to be a beauty queen and become a pageant winner. At the end of the day, you have this achievement, but what did you give up along the way? This is a lesson that truly means something to me now that I’m out of school and my life and priorities are a lot less selfish. You can give it all up. Sleep. Sanity. Exercise. Friendship. Self-love. Achievements ain’t shit if you’ve given up happiness along the way.

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  • PARTITION — Women, all women, are allowed to be sexual beings and express themselves however they choose. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. This song is a tribute to one person’s fantasy (granted, that person is Beyoncé and she drips sex appeal) but I think if anything, it reinforces confidence is sexy.

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  • FLAWLESS — First of all, if you’ve never watched Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s TED talk titled “We Should All Be Feminist’s” where the sample in this song is from, then go watch it. Now. I’ll wait here. The sample really makes the song what it is, but being proud of who you are and standing your ground is arguably the underlying theme. Also, other women are allies, not enemies.

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  • SUPERPOWER (Ft. FRANK OCEAN) — I just love listening to this. The pace, the lyrics, Frank Ocean. This is also my favourite music video that came from the visual album. Really high concept, lots of slo-mo. It reminds me of that feeling of being indestructible.

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  • XO — Funny enough, I actually didn’t really think much about this song when I first heard it, but there’s something about the feeling it leaves you with. The hook isn’t amazing, but it really does remind me of what it feels like to fall in love. I can’t listen to it and not be in a good mood.

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The ideas behind this whole album got me through that shitty period, and helped me carry myself through to the part where I found happiness.

What album or song changed your life?

— RJ

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