#TBT: 2017 in a 12 Track Playlist


I've always had a special relationship with it. like many people, Music has helped me get through long workouts, hard break-ups and endless grief. with time, I realized that i connect to lyrics on a whole different level; i've experienced some of my most self-reflective and empathetic moments while listening to deep lyrics. Because of this intense connection, music has always been deeply nostalgic for me.

 listening to "go gina" when i took this picture - my august song (see below)

 listening to "go gina" when i took this picture - my august song (see below)



when i'm thinking about my past, i may forget what i was doing or what i was wearing, but i guarantee i can tell you what songs i was connecting to at the time. 

below are ri's sounds of 2017, month by month. they serve as such a bittersweet timeline of a truly transformative year. 


She's mine pt. 2 - j.cole


this song is about j.cole's love for his newborn daughter. he talks about how his entire perception of himself shifted after becoming a father; how his daughter gave him newfound hope and purpose. this song taught me a lot about empathy, because j.cole did such a good job of walking me through an emotion that i will never feel (won't ever be a father, let alone a black man in america). i was my father's first daughter, and he, too, cried happy tears when i was born. this song made me so emotional because the lyrics helped me develop such a respect for father-daughter relationships during a time when my relationship with my father was still under repair. 


Reminisce when you came out the womb
Tears of joy I think filled up the room
You are now the reason that I fight
I ain't never did nothing that's right in my whole life
Got me thinking...
Am I worthy of this gift
Am I strong enough to lift, into a place that I can see
Someone more important than me?
Am I worthy of this gift?


i used to love him - lauryn hill (ft. mary j. blige)


because i interact so deeply with lyrics, i often find myself having an imaginary discourse with the lyricist, and sometimes even challenging their ideas. i played this lauryn hill classic on repeat around the same time i was transitioning out of a relationship. so many of her words resonated with me, except for the "now i don't" part. this song made me realize that i will probably always love the people i once loved, even after i've moved on. that i could simultaneously love someone and recognize that they aren't healthy for me - and that's just a testament to who i am. i didn't know it at the time, but february was preparing me to "drop everything and love." february was when i formally embarked on my roadtorima.


I chose the road of passion and pain
Sacrificed too much and waited in vain
Gave up my power ceased being queen
Addicted to love like the drug of a fiend
Torn and confused wasted and used
Reached the crossroad which path would I choose
Stuck and frustrated I waited, debated

For something to happen that just wasn't fated
Thought what I wanted was something I needed
When momma said no I just should have heeded
Misled I bled till the poison was gone
And out of the darkness arrived the sweet dawn


promises - jhene aiko


this song used to make me cry like no other song has before. in her heart-wrenching lyrics, jhene talks about losing her brother and being terrified about what could happen to her daughter. when i first listened to this song, i hadn't ever lost anyone, but i kept thinking about what she must have been going through, and how i felt slightly maternal over my little sister sese. jhene repeating "promise i'll be all right" broke my heart because i knew the repetition was so she, herself could believe it. when my father passed away in march, these lyrics hit so close to home. they were devastating yet so comforting all at once. as emotional as i'd get, i couldn't help but listen to it on repeat and try to find some solace in jhene's reflections. 


And every single little moment
And every single bit of sunshine just
Know that I am right by your side
And know that you are right by my side
So Imma make you so proud
And you don't ever have to worry 'bout me
No, you don't ever have to worry 'bout me
Promise I'll be alright, promise I'll be alright


the truth - india arie


i love india arie. i listened to her a lot as i transitioned into my womanhood in college. she got me started on my self-love and self-worth journey, and i revisit her music whenever i need a reminder of who i am. this song is about the man she loves, and i always said i wanted to feel exactly this way about my husband. in the early phases of mourning my father, i sought out india as a source of comfort and realized that this song reminded me so much of baba. i learned after listening to this song that part of what helped me grieve baba peacefully was how highly i think of him, how proud i always was of the man he is. "the truth" comforted me so much and made me proud of my parents.


I love the way he speaks/I love the way he thinks
I love the way that he treats his mama
I love that gap in between his teeth
I love him in every way that a woman can love a man
From personal to universal but most of all/It's unconditional
There ain't no substitute for the truth
Either it is or isn't
You see the truth it needs no proof
Either it is or it isn't
Now you know the truth by the way it feels
And if I am a reflection of him then I must be fly
Because he is, yes he is
I wonder does he know? 


Get it together - india arie


another india arie song to soothe the soul! honestly, i played her on repeat for a few months this year, even though these songs are old. get it together was so instrumental in helping me forgive myself, forgive loved ones, and create my own closure. her voice and lyrics helped ease moments of anxiety or intense grief. i listened to this song at least one time on the way to work for a while. i think the beat and lyrics are such a perfect combination of accountability and understanding; it was like india was holding me in her arms, wiping my tears and telling me to get my life together and be who i know i can be. 


Cause the words that come from your mouth
You're the first to hear
Speak words of beauty and you will be there
No matter what anybody says
What matters the most is what you think of yourself
The choice is yours
No matter what it is
To choose life is to choose to forgive
You don't have to try
To hurt him and break his pride
To shake that weight off
And you will be ready to fly


tell him - lauryn hill


i know you guys. these songs are old! i promise as we move forward in the year, my songs will get more current. it's just that, well, mainstream music today kinda sucks. i don't think i ever stopped listening to ms. lauryn on a consistent basis. she gives me so much strength and perspective. this song was so special because it made me realize that i have believed in god all along. its lyrics are so beautiful. it was playing as i was writing myself a much needed love letter. i was immediately overwhelmed with emotion, and i couldn't believe i had never paid attention to these lyrics like i did. everything happens for a reason, and this song marked a major turning point in my spiritual journey. 


Tell him I need him
Tell him I love him
And it'll be alright
Tell him tell him I need him
Tell him I love him
It'll be alright

Now I may have faith to make mountains fall
But if I lack love, then I am nothin' at all

I can give away everything I possess
But left without love then I have no happiness

I know I'm imperfect, and not without sin
But now that I'm older all childish things end


garden - sza


i promise you i played sza's whole album on repeat for three straight months. i didn't listen to anything else, and i'm still not sick of these songs. this song made me comfortable with my vulnerable, sometimes self-conscious, romantic side. this song made me want to start being me again. it made me want to stop acting so tough, and start showing my "brutally soft" heart. it made me want to claim my identity as a "hopeful romantic" and start showing this side of myself to other people. the lyrics truly made me reflect on what i need in a man, and it gave me the courage to start claiming those things instead of feeling ashamed for wanting them. 


Need you for the old me
Need you for my sanity
Need you to remind me where I come from

Can you remind me of my gravity?
Ground me when I'm tumblin', spiralin', plummetin' down to Earth
You keep me down to Earth


go gina - sza


august was by far my most productive month of 2017. i was killing the game thanks to the goals i set in my passion planner. during this month, i would go to work, go straight to the gym, sit at the cafe in the gym and study for an hour and a half, go workout and then eat. studying at the gym was my way of ensuring i would get my gmat studies in and work out, without faltering on any of my goals for the month. this song made me feel like someone was cheering me on, because instead of "go gina" i would always sing "go rima" lol. the song hyped me up and kept me focused at the same time - i would even play it while i was studying! august was when i came up with my ri-time, and started taking pride in doing things for myself. after all, i do belong to me. 


I belong to nobody
Hope it don't bother you
You could mind your business
I belong to nobody
Try not to disturb
And mind my business

Still works for me, it works for me, no
It works for me, it works for me, no

(Go Gina, go Gina)


want more - rotimi (ft. kranium)


september was the last month of summer, and for me, this meant the last month before i had to truly face reality. summer and my constant trips to miami have their way of making me forget about my worries - which was so necessary this year. but i knew that after i got back from my labor day miami trip, i would have to hit the ground running and continue with the momentum i built in august. this song's vibe is so summery, and always gives me a bittersweet feeling. the lyrics also spoke to a time in my life when i was tempted to seek out relationships that served as crutches, but instead channeled that energy inward. i was walking away from all of that temptation and walking towards being me again. 


Won't go so far to say, you can do better
Baby, so far no good, looks like you're fed up
Everytime you walk away, girl its something extra
Call me when you want more, when you want more


no one - alicia keys


first of all. alicia keys is my big sister - she just doesn't know it yet. i have always loved and respected her so much for being so unapologetically her, and for staying true to her morals despite being engulfed in the music industry. i listened to alicia a lot around october during one of my cleanses, because she makes me feel more connected to my spiritual side (and because i also stopped wearing makeup). i started revisiting her music, and "no one" always uplifted me on a whole different level. i would sing it so loud on the way to work, even while fighting back tears. it's supposed to be a love song, but like most love songs these days, i end up relating it to my dad, and it makes the song that much better. 


When the rain is pouring down
And my heart is hurting
You will always be around
This I know for certain

You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don't worry cause
Everything's going to be alright

People keep talking they can say what they like
But all I know is everything's going to be alright




this song, similar to "the truth" reminds me of my dad. it also reminds me so much of my brother (and husband! lol). if you follow me on instagram (@roadtorima), you have probably seen me sing to this song a million times. november was about balance. honestly, this whole year (and maybe the rest of my life) was about balance. this song gave me the language to express the struggles and triumphs i had been experiencing. this whole year has felt like a balance beam that i've been desperately trying to walk across. because i've been learning my balance, i was able to make it across without falling off, but that doesn't mean i haven't teetered several times. lots of healing has happened to these lyrics, and i love jhene for that. 


Most of all I am thankful
You are just what I prayed for
You are what I was made for
Yes, I'm for sure
Most of all
I just want to mean the most to you
Most of all, baby, I'm just tryna grow with you
I just wanna go with you
Cause you bring so much hope to the picture


this moment - Janine


on repeat. currently. every day. this whole album is old, and i honestly don't even know what made me circle back to janine's music this month, but i'm so happy i did. i am currently getting ready for my 2018 resolution: to be a more present version of myself. i will do this by spending 30 minutes each morning praying, reading, writing or meditating. this song talks about the power that exists in the present moment, and it describes the happiness that we can feel when we get connected. i truly feel like the rest of my day will be so much better as a result of being connected, and janine's lyrics affirm these feelings. 


Breathe in slow
Roll my shoulders
Know That with my eyes closed I could be
Anywhere that I wanna go
And it would be the same with my eyes shut
I thought if I achieved enough that I would find my peace
But even if I could
I'd have gave it up for nothing good
Mind on those who made me and the gifts that life gave to me
And I..I'm feeling good/I'm feeling good
Looking out the window feeling things I never thought I could
Let it go with me baby (x3)
In this moment we are everything

2017 soundtrack

what is love by v. bozeman


i fell in love with this song (and v. bozeman) for the first time a couple years back when i heard it on empire. the way she sings it is so powerful, and the questions she is struggling to find answers to underscores an issue that a lot of us are dealing with: showing love in the face of fear. this song was my 2017 soundtrack because it underscores a struggle that i overcame: learning to drop everything and love, regardless. this doesn't mean that love is not scary, confusing and often hurtful, it just means that i still choose love despite the fear. i can proudly say that this year, i learned to listen to the sounds of my heart, beat by beat. 


Tell myself I wouldn't cry when you're gone
But I know it's easier said than done
Look at me, look at me, choked up now
Try to tell you but it won't come out
What is love if you're not here with me?
What is love if it's not guaranteed?
What is love if it just ups and leaves?
What is love if you're not here no more?
What is love if you're not really sure?
What is love if it just ups and goes?


music is the soundtrack to my soul. it helps me look externally and make sense of the world, but also look internally and make sense of what i'm thinking and feeling. i think music will always play this role in my life, and every year will have its own special soundtrack to symbolize the struggle and strength that my #roadtorima has in store for me.


only love,



Rima FadlallahComment