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The Daily Tar Heel

Office DJ: Songs for a new beginning


Part of what makes music beautiful is its universality. Even if you don’t understand a single lyric, the melodies, rhythms and energy can make you fall in love with a tune. For that reason, sharing music is a great way to get to know people.

In high school, I decided to let my Instagram be a conduit for people to share music with each other. Every week, I would post a collection of songs, dubbed the “(un)Official @callhim.adri Songs of the Week,” to my Instagram story. 

These songs would be posted weekly, with five tracks sent to me by friends, strangers and family highlighted on my story and the rest discoverable in an Apple Music playlist. Each week, the theme of the highlighted songs would change, encompassing every vibe from “Songs of the Summer” to “Songs to Have a Good Cry To.” 

After a year, I decided to take a break from posting every Sunday. Life got hectic with college preparations, my eighteenth birthday and different academic and social engagements. I forgot about SOTW for a while, until a high school friend of mine reached out during our first year of college asking what happened to “those music posts.” 

A few months after that text, I decided it was time to recommit. I started “Year Two” of the project entering summer 2021, after an 18-month hiatus. That experiment ended this June, but people still send me new songs to share. 

As we move into a new school year with new challenges, goals and experiences in store, I thought it would be a perfect time to collect some songs to prepare for that new beginning. To officially close out the old and move into the new, I posted one last question box on my Instagram story, asking followers to help build up a playlist for a final Songs of the Week theme: “Songs for a New Beginning.” 

Here are some highlights:

"Window Seat", Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu — an artist whose insistence on self-expression sometimes leaves her at odds with the public— has always been an image of freedom to me. For this reason, this song about liberating yourself from what holds you back feels like such a natural highlight of a playlist about fresh starts. Melancholy yet hopeful, the “New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh” track walks the line between the past self you want to outgrow and the future self you want to become.

"Because I’m Me", The Avalanches feat. Camp Lo

Avalanches member Robbie Chater describes the song’s intro — a sample from Six Boys In Trouble’s “Why Can’t I Get It Too” — better than I can, so I’ll let his words speak for me. 

“I love the start of this song because I always imagined this little kid walking down the street with a pair of headphones on, he’s got a Walkman, and he’s singing this song at the top of his voice. He’s so happy to be alive and he doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks and he’s just having a great day."

The whole song, which also takes a sample from Honey Cone’s 1971 hit “Want Ads,” carries that same energy with it. It has the pep of someone beginning their journey into the unknown and the confidence of adventures yet to come.

"Better Days", Ramir

Ramir is an artist I had never heard of until TikTok decided to randomly slide him across my For You Page. With only a few thousand followers (as of typing, just over 3450) on the platform and eight released songs, he’s a yet-to-be-discovered gem. This song perfectly encapsulates the strange feeling of being “a real adult” now, and navigating what life is — and who we are — after high school.

"Kody Blu 31", JID

“The Forever Story” was by far the album the most people suggested I write about, and I see why. JID’s third studio album is not only amazing overall, but also a beautiful analysis of family, fame, Black culture and keeping loved ones close through life’s turbulent roads. This song gives us the mantra “swang on, swang on” as its chorus, telling listeners to keep fighting, because with every challenge that change brings your way, there comes a matching opportunity.

"My Life", Robin Thicke

For the last of these highlights, I chose this jam off the “Despicable Me” soundtrack. When first suggesting Thicke’s song for this playlist, my friend simply described the song — and soundtrack — with one word: “amazing.” The Pharrell Williams-produced track feels like positivity bottled, and leaves you looking forward to what the days ahead have in store for you.

Check out these songs (and several more) in my playlist “click refresh,” linked here for Apple Music users and here for those on Spotify. Alternatively, scroll through the songs below.

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