The Best Music to Listen to for Self-Discovery


Image via Highsnobiety

Athena Bonner, Staff Writer

Hey, my name is Athena Bonner, and I’m a writer for the Entertainment section of the Hartford Informer. I will be writing about some of my favorite musicians I have found on my self-discovery journey. I love music and the power it has to support and heal someone like myself, and I hope you also become a fan of music first and listener second. You will be able to hear the music and understand the messages behind it. I hope you enjoy these songs!


“blkswn” by Smino: 

The first new artist I discovered this year is Smino, real name Christopher Smith Jr. He is an R&B songwriter and rapper, born on October 2nd, 1991, and originally from St. Louis, Missouri. I first learned about Smino’s music through his song “Anita,” which played a lot on BET’s Jams channel in 2017, but my new favorite song on this playlist is the track “blkswn” off of his debut album of the same name. The album came out in 2017, and the song is still relaxing almost five years later.


“Navajo” by Masego: 

Another new artist that I discovered this year is Micah Davis, better known as Masego. Born on June 8th, 1993, in Kingston, Jamaica, he is an R&B and soul musician who also plays the saxophone for artists like Ari Lennox. My new favorite song of his that is on my self-discovery playlist is “Navajo.” The song was released in 2017 but has generational effects for generations to come.


“A Muse” by dvsn: 

dvsn is an R&B duo consisting of singer Daniel Daley and producer Nineteen85. I love their voices and the fact that their music empowers women and does not degrade them. It makes me feel loved as a woman. I discovered them through their song “A Muse,” which is also on this playlist; it is wonderful to listen to, and you will love it so much!


“Proud of You” by Young Thug (featuring Lil Uzi Vert & Yung Kayo): 

Young Thug, real name Jeffrey Lamar Williams, is a rapper born in 1991 and originally from Atlanta, Georgia, who has the same birthday as my late grandmother (August 16th). I like his music, including his song “Best Friend,” because it has a dope beat, and I enjoy the levels of his voice as a rapper. The song of his that I have included on the playlist is “Proud of You,” featuring Lil Uzi Vert and Young Kayo, which comes from his 2021 “Slime Language 2” project.


“Infrunami” by Steve Lacy 

Steve Lacy, whose real name is Steve Thomas Lacy-Moya, was born on May 23rd, 1998, in Compton, California. He is an R&B, funk, and soul musician known for being the guitarist for the band, The Internet. I got into The Internet in middle school and high school, and I love their songs “Special Affair” from their album “Ego Death” (2015) and the songs “Come Over” and “Hold On” from their album “Hive Mind” (2017). I love the band’s instrumentation so much. You could get healing from listening and singing along to it as I have done in the past. My favorite song by Lacy at the moment is called “Infrunami” and has a powerful guitar. The song has made me believe in artists, honor moments, and enjoy them. The song is off of his “The Lo-Fis” album, which was released in 2020.


“Mrs. Whoever” by Saba 

Saba is a rapper from Chicago, born on July 17th, 1994. I discovered Saba’s music through his feature on the song “Angels” by Chance the Rapper, released in 2016. I also love his song “Mrs. Whoever” from his “Mrs. Whoever / Something in the Water” EP. The project had come out in 2020, and it reminds me of a person who is on a journey of self-discovery but is learning to be happy with herself. I love the originality of the song and how it makes me feel; it gives life.


“Exposure” by Shelley FKA DRAM 

Shelley Marshaun Massenburg-Smith, better known as DRAM and now Shelley FKA DRAM, was born in Germany and grew up in the DMV area of Virginia. He is an R&B singer and rapper born on August 3rd, 1988. I discovered DRAM’s music back in 2015 when he had come on the scene with “CHA CHA” and “Caretaker” with SZA, which is another favorite song of his because it has a very up-tempo beat that makes you dance in random places. The song and video that I have loved late is “Exposure,” which is off his upcoming album, which comes out on April 30th. I love the song because of its hidden messages of self-love and opening up in a relationship. It is important to open up to people, and every time I listen to this song, it makes me feel that way.


“I Can See” by ELHAE

Jamaal Jones, better known by his stage name ELHAE, originally from Minot, North Dakota, was born on August 24th, 1990. He is an R&B singer who has such a beautiful look to him. I first started listening to ELHAE through his mashup of “SUGAR” by “BROCKHAMPTON” and “Could’ve Been” by H.E.R. featuring Bryson Tiller. Then, during the lockdown, I started to discover more of his music through his “Aura” projects, which are fantastic. I love the fact that he is singing with all of his heart. We appreciate the voices that way. I currently love the song “I Can See” off of his Aura III album. The project came out earlier this month and is also a way to see the world openly for yourself.


“Charcoal Baby” by Blood Orange 

David Joseph Michael Hynes, better known as Blood Orange, was born on December 23rd, 1985 and was born in Ilford, England. He is an R&B soul musician who had once gone by the alias Lightspeed Champion. I love his “Family” track with Janet Mock, a producer on the FX show “Pose.” I also like his song “Charcoal Baby,” which is off his “Negro Swan” album released in 2018. This track always calms me down and eases my anxiety.


“Nobody But You” by Sonder & Jorja Smith

Sonder is a collective of musicians and producers, made up of Atu, Brent Faiyaz, and Dpat, all from the DMV area. Jorja Smith is a Jamaican-British singer and songwriter born on June 17th, 1997, in Walsall, England. I discovered Jorja Smith through the song “Where Did I Go?” and discovered Brent Faiyaz through his feature on “Crew” by Goldlink (also featuring Shy Glizzy). I love the song “Nobody But You,” which Brent Faiyaz (with Sonder) and Jorja Smith had done together recently. I love how their voices and instrumentation have a way of blending; it makes the song easy to rock to and follow. I love them both so much as artists!


These songs and a lot more can be found here: