6 Young Nigerians on how music helps their heartbreak

From Diddy's "Ass on the Floor" to Jhene Aiko's "Triggered", this is the soundtrack to heartbreak as told by the NATIVE community.

Music has innumerable benefits. More than an enjoyable listening experience, we’ve seen the power it possesses in boosting our confidence, realigning our faith with God, and even getting through a really difficult lockdown. Suffice to say, that music is the go-to for many of us when we’re feeling low, and time and time again, it has proved useful in providing some comfort, no matter what you may be feeling. It’s no surprise then that music is also a really helpful tool for mending a broken heart even though evidence since forever shows that relationships usually always end in tears.

Back in 2011, Drake accurately summed up relationships and dating in our generation when he sang these relatable words on “Doing It Wrong”: “We live in a generation of not being in love and not being together/But we sure make it feel like we’re together because we’re scared to see each other with somebody else”. Where our parents’ generation was generally forthcoming and straightforward about courting with exclusivity, our generation is more commitment-phobic, and as we’ve come of age have managed to rewrite the language of relationships to suit the times, and that definitely has a lot to do with technology and choice.

I’m no relationship or expert or anything, but to me, it seems like growing up with the Internet has made it such that our lives are endlessly cascading from one moment to the next. Everything we consume on a daily basis is bite-sized, from 10 second long videos to songs are barely hitting the 2-minute mark and things vanishing after 24 hours, and it seems like we have become accustomed to instant gratification in all walks of our lives. As a result, relationships have also taken a hit and we’re less likely to give ourselves entirely to the process for either fear of getting hurt, or a ridiculous need to always have one up on everybody around you. As the music and entertainment, we consume are made by other people like us, it also means that these biases are being confirmed in what we surround ourselves with, and most of what we hear and see tells us to keep our guard up when it comes to love.

Clearly, this isn’t a very clever ploy and from what today’s discussion on the timeline has shown us, it’s that we all do have feelings that need to be explored and satisfied, and there’s a dissonance between how we want to present ourselves and who we really are at the core. On social media, the language is one of openness and people are not afraid of sharing details of their intimate and private lives. These platforms make us feel less alone in the struggles that come with maintaining romantic relationships today and that’s why every so often, there are topics that unite everyone on the timeline from different parts of the world. Following today’s topic about heartbreak and its effects on us, I began thinking of all the times that music had got me out of a tight spot when it came to matters of the heart and artists who had been forthcoming with how their experiences with heartbreak had helped them peak creatively. Listening to music that represents a sliver of the pain you’re experiencing can be an incredibly moving experience, and sometimes it can sound like all the good advice your friends could tell you in one song.

There’s no shortage of music that can speak to the core of your being and make you feel seen in your low moments. On one hand, you get female rappers like Megan thee Stallion, Flo Milli, Shaybo, and Mulatto, give you the same confidence boost, priming you with lyrical ammunition to guard your heart against these fuckboys. On the other hand, you have the Jhene Aikos, Snoh Alegra, and more who’s lyrics can help you pick yourself back up after a bad breakup, giving you the courage to brush off your tears and get back to feeling your best and strongest self in your lowest moments. Listening to an artist like SZA or Summer Walker, your most toxic feelings are instantly brought to light, with lyrics such as ‘Got myself caught in your cross fire, you a wild one, and I am wading in you like it’s cool water, like it’s cool when I see you pull up with that new and it’s not me’ from SZA’s “Hit Different” or ‘boy, you know I love you, and everything you do and I just can’t quite understand it, but love makes sense of you” on Summer’s “Drunk Dialing” – I don’t think I need to explain, I’m sure anyone can relate.

On the flip side for the #other gender (aka the opps) there are artists such as Future, Drake, Bryson Tiller, Brent Faiyaz, and more, who give us women a pretty good idea of how the typical fuckboys think within relationships, whilst making the real-life opps we face feel validated in their behaviour. With lyrics bent on emphasising the jaded detachment that comes with toxic masculinity, this music presents the reality of dating to us, and showing us the feelings we keep trying to surpress. Nobody can convince me that Drake isn’t a supervillain and if you’re doubting it, just consider the premise of “Marvin’s Room” again with a critical ear. Drake has drunk dialled an ex who has moved on, and is telling her she can do better, asking her what she’s doing that’s so important when she declines his invitation and also informing her that he’s had sex 4 times in a week… whew.

From r&b to hip-hop/rap, there are artists who speak to the experiences that we’re all going through; whether that’s as the person doing the heartbreaking – as Brent Faiyaz sang “I got too many hoes but they ain’t you” – or the one getting their heartbroken.  To this end, the NATIVE spoke to six young Nigerians about how the soundtrack to their last heartbreak and how they feel about getting into relationships in the future. From listening to Diddy’s “Ass On The Floor” because it makes them feel like a bad b*tch to rediscovering their love for the High School Musical soundtrack and Charli XCX, here’s what members of our community had to say.

M, 23, M.

Quality of dating overall: 0/10

Frequency of dating: I’ve not had a proper relationship in the Lagos scene but I’ve had one situationship in the last year.

How happy they are with their dating life: Honestly I don’t know how I feel about it at the moment, I haven’t thought about that

Go to break up music: Future’s ‘Save Me’ album.

M, 22, F.

Quality of dating overall: For me, I’d say 0/10 lmao. My life is boring as hell.

Frequency of dating: Honestly very low, and I think it’s cause I barely go out so I barely meet people.

How happy they are with their dating life: Very unhappy lmao. I’m not mad about being single, but sometimes you just want your own person. Plus harmattan is coming, so I need a cuddle buddy.

Go to break up music: I usually suppress my feelings and focus on other shit. They give me a couple of nights for a big cry. So I play music that reminds me of that person during those crying ceremonies lol. I always feel better after I cry though. I still haven’t been able to listen to Jhene Aiko’s “Triggered” for some reason.

N, 21, M.

Quality of dating overall: 6/10 as a gay man, it is also heavily influenced by access, financial power and your social circle.

Frequency of dating: 2/10 from my own perspective.

How happy they are with their dating life: I’d say I am content being single. I am a bit more aware of what I am looking for now than I was some years back. On a good day, I am able to take it in stride and be very practical with it. But because I have an anxiety disorder, it is often hard to stay practical and remind myself of necessary truths that can help me heal from loss.

Go to break up music: Mine were Mitski’s “Nobody” and IDER’s “Mirror”. I don’t listen to them very often these days as I am trying to discover new music, but they still mean very much to me as they represented interesting times in my life.

W, 23, F.

Quality of dating overall: 5/10

Frequency of dating: 2/10

How happy they are with their dating life: 1/10. Heartbreak sucks and makes me want to die, especially when the person that breaks my heart is somebody that loves/loved me.

Go to break up music: Music does not help me move on, it just helps me feel better in that I don’t feel as stupid since others have gone through it, and I know that I’m not crazy. I listen to anything and everything. Songs that I definitely should not be listening to I put on repeat. Song with memories, I don’t mind listening to. I don’t really care for what is good and healthy for me emotionally, I do whatever I want and if it hurts then it hurts. I’m super self-indulgent during heartbreak.

S, 25, F.

Quality of dating overall: 6/10

Frequency of dating: 3/10

How happy they are with their dating life: I am happy with my dating life because at least no one is cheating on me anymore. I had really poor self-worth when I was growing up and I tended to be in toxic relationships where they obviously didn’t care about me. Though I’m sad I’m not with someone, I feel at peace knowing that I learnt so much to get to the stage I am now. I am content with everything.

Go to break up music: Okay, so don’t judge me but I had to revisit the High School Musical soundtrack for my most recent heartbreak. I was always listening to 21 savage and the City Girls trying to activate my thug, but then I remembered back then how the HSM soundtrack be hitting. So I went back and let me just say that you can’t listen to songs like “Walk Away” without shedding a few tears and I’m a sucker for a good cry. Also, I rediscovered Charli XCX’s music and it’s the perfect upbeat remedy for heartbreak, I guarantee that.


K A-J, 25, F.

Frequency of dating: 2 months after my break up I started dating again and it’s been pretty consistent since then but it’s just casual. I’m very cautious about my feelings now.

How happy they are with their dating life: It’s good I’ve been going on dates some people I get on with more than others.

Go to break up music: Adele’s “Make you feel my love”. This was my go-to when I was younger because I was in quite a few relationships where I felt that I had a lot of love to give but the love wasn’t reciprocated. Also Diddy’s Dirty Money “Ass on the floor”. This is the song I listen to when I want to remind myself that I am still a bad ass bitch and these niggas ain’t shit haha.

Featured image credits/HuckMagazine

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