If you love music like I do, you probably remember Lauryn Hill crooning that respect was just the minimum.

And you definitely recall Erykah Badu advising us all to pack light.

Laced with a nice beat and a few stand out hooks, these tunes from the past could easily double as advice from our closest girlfriend – you know, the one who knows all of your deepest, darkest secrets and shoots it to you straight. She loves you and she wants to see you at your best, even if it means making you a wee bit uncomfortable along the way.

We all need at least one friend like that, and sometimes a good song is all the companion one requires.

They say that music soothes the savage beast, and quite often that beast is the boogieman we create within our own minds. It’s no secret that music is therapeutic, and it’s a whole lot cheaper than your average counseling session too.

Sometimes just the right record will pick you up out of your funk and set you back on the right track; empowered and ready to take on the world. That said, here are 5 throwback jams from R&B Divas that speak right to the heart of the situations that we’ve all faced a time or two.

5 Throwback R&B Songs That Are Like Black Woman Therapy Over a Beat:

  1. Erykah Badu – “Bag Lady”

“Bag lady you gon’ hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold on to is you

One day all them bags gon’ get in your way…so pack light…”

Ok, I’ll admit it. When I first heard this song I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about, but I get a pass for being young at the time right?

Anyway, it’s one of those things that everyone can relate to in one way or another. We all have metaphorical bags to some degree, and yes, if we aren’t careful they will inevitably end up getting in the way. Gucci bag? Duffle bag? It doesn’t matter… bags are bags.

What are you holding on to that you need to let go of? What pain and resentment do you tuck away and bring along for the ride like it’s your life partner?

How many opportunities have you missed holding on to your bags when your hands should have been open and ready to grasp your blessings?

Bag Lady’ reminds us not to fall into this trap. It urges us to pack light, not just physically, but to put away those things that make our hearts and souls heavy.

By the time Ms. Badu sings her final “let it go”, you can almost feel the easy breezy feeling of what packing light truly embodies.

  1. Mary J. Blige – “My Life”

“Life can be only what you make it
When you’re feeling down
You should never fake it
Say what’s on your mind
And you’ll find in time
That all the negative energy
It would all cease

And you’ll be at peace with yourself
You won’t really need no one else.”

Who wants a free Zen lesson? Mary was serving it way back in 1994. Focusing on the power of your own thoughts, authenticity, and a higher guiding force is what this jam is all about.

We’ve all had melancholy moments, those times when it seemed like not a single person in the world could relate to our plight. Not only did Mary provide a sense of understanding, she handed over the blueprint for navigating those difficult times as well.

Let’s face it, as magnificent as it would be, life can’t always be a teacup full of roses. Sometimes we’re faced with challenges, find ourselves in dark places, and if we’re not careful, we can become stagnant behind what should be temporary challenges.

Although Mary’s ‘My Life’ can sound downright depressing at times, the overall message is that there’s a brighter day.

Even in the midst of the storm.

  1. Toni Braxton – “Let It Flow”

“You see the thing ’bout love
Is that it’s not enough
If the only thing it brings you is pain
There comes a time when we could all make a change

Just let go
And let it flow.”

I’m sure more than a few of us have experienced a moment when we wanted to Waiting to Exhale some trifling man’s belongings. After all, no one likes to be lied to, made a fool of, or downright disrespected.

While a fiery revenge might feel good in the moment, the better option is probably to just let go of the situation that’s causing us to want to act out of character in the first place.

That is out of character, right?

When you’ve been wronged, letting go is easier said than done, but in Toni Braxton’s ‘Let It Flow’, she outlines all of the reasons why you should let go of that hurtful relationship and never look back again.

And just as a good girlfriend would, she reminds us that “everything’s gonna work out right, you know.”

And it will.

  1. Goapele – “Closer”

“Sometimes it feels like I’m never gonna pass here
Sometimes it feel like I’m stuck forever

But I’m getting higher
Closer to my dreams
I’m going higher and higher
I can almost reach

Sometimes you just have to let it go
Leaving all my fears to burn and die
Push them all away so I can move on
Closer to my dreams.”

There’s a saying that states that everything you want is on the other side of your fears. Did you just roll your eyes right now too?

As cliché as it sounds, sometimes the very things that scare you are also the portals to your dreams. Once you move beyond the point of fear, you’ll be better positioned to operate in the excellence that is you. And one step closer to your dreams.

Goapele’s reminds us that even in the times when we feel stuck and can’t foresee a way out of our predicaments, the only thing that will propel us forward is to keep moving… keep reaching.

If we do that enough times, not only will we be closer to our dreams, but we’ll eventually achieve them too.

  1. India.Arie – “Video”

“I’m not the average girl from your video
And I ain’t built like a supermodel
But I’ve learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen

I’m not the average girl from your video
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes
No matter what I’m wearing I will always be

At times it’s difficult to not get caught up in the current perceptions of beauty and fashion trends. Nevertheless, you have to be able to recognize your own magnificence – inside and out.

In Video, India.Arie reminds us to take pride in the unique way the Creator made us. After all, He doesn’t make mistakes.

Whether you choose to shun or conform to today’s standards, be sure to appreciate and equally focus on what sets you apart; aside from your looks and possessions.

Embrace your individuality, love yourself, and be kind to yourself because you’re absolutely worth it.

Music is a powerful tool that often has the ability to alter our mood, give guidance, and provide a different perspective on the things we may be facing at the time.

What are some of the tunes that you find therapeutic? What songs make you want to live your life like it’s golden? Be sure to let us know in the comments on Facebook.

Interested in writing for Nia? We’re looking for Guest Writers to join our contributor team! Click HERE to find out how.