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That One Time I Removed R&B from my Phone

Music is a powerful tool. It can make the heart fond of life, infatuated with hope, furious with disappointment, depressed with loneliness, etc. Oftentimes, I have found my heart being swayed by the lullabies of words I sung in my heart. If you know music, you know you too have had moments where a song became your theme for the week. But what happens when the theme causes you to hate your life? What do you do then?

I found myself inching close to this defeated mentality. My love life wasn’t the most significant portion of my life (and still isn’t), but the inability to liven it up was making me bitter. I was at that age where the bright hope of youth was starting to dim into the dark reality of my decisions. Someway, somehow, I had decided to be single for far too long (according to me and arguably others). It saddened me.

It had gotten to the point that listening to R&B did not bring me hope for romance, but rather bitterness from what felt like mockery. How could I sing along to Michael Jackson’s “Butterflies” if I hadn’t been infatuated with a woman in years? How could I envision Ne-yo’s “Know Your Name” if most women didn’t interest me that way? How could I ever get to the point where Stevie Wonder’s “As” became my reality?

The more I listened to the hearts and experiences of the singing love-birds, the more I realized the path to experiencing a singer’s love was far from me. So I did what any upset person wanting to be happy would do: I removed all the things that made me sad. Every song that made me think of any type of love was removed from my phone and all playlists.

First, I removed any song that mentioned sex. When you’re depressed and lonely, the main thing the devil will tempt you with is sex. I found myself thinking about it far too often for my comfort. I sought out where these triggers started, and stopped listening to all songs that encouraged it or detailed it. I also stopped watching shows or movies that promoted it.

Second, I cut more than half of my R&B from my music lists. Only the best songs would remain on my phone. After all, I still loved R&B and Soul music. That wasn’t going to change. But if I ever wanted to listen to these songs, it would have to be the songs I couldn’t live without.

The problem with this was: when you can’t live without a song, you’ll want to hear that song. So as the months passed, I kept listening to what I considered to be 5-star R&B and Soul music. Still, I found myself saddened by the lack of a love life. Singing Kem’s “Share my Life” seemed like a running joke. Who was I going to share my life with? Luther Vandross’ “So Amazing” was completely foreign to me in reality. Who was I going to “Serenade”, Leo Solomon? Who could I ask “Maybe” to, Lee-Lonn? The more and more I asked these questions of my favorite songs, the more and more I felt stupid for hoping through music. Thus, I decided to remove all of it.

There would be no Alicia Keys, no Christon Gray, no James Morrison, no Eric Bellinger, no John Legend, no Drake, no old school, no new school, nothing. I unchecked every box in the R&B and Soul genres and left the love songs behind. All that I had on my phone was rock, rap, gospel, and classical music.

I lasted about a week or two. You can’t turn off your heart no matter how hard you want to. So what, you won’t hear “If I Ain’t Got You”, but you’ll still sing it in the shower. Who cares if “Isle of You” wasn’t soothing your heart? It still echoed through the house when you were home alone. How could you resist the thought of telling the world about being a “Better Man” for “The 1st Lady”? What about the women that made you feel they could “Take me Away” because this could be “Something”? Even Christian and secular rappers had songs about love in their albums, so avoiding R&B altogether was ridiculous for me. Not to mention all the love songs in romantic comedies. Don’t get me started on all the triggers about love in the Bible.

Removing all love music was foolish. It didn’t stop my heart from dreaming all the images or my mind from remembering all the lyrics. Without a single line, I could paint a picture of me and a particularly beautiful woman at any given moment. It was just who I was. I had to accept it. God is love and Love created me. It is my being.

The heart should be allowed to love and hope for love. It is what we were created for. After all, the two greatest commandments from Jesus are: LOVE your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and body AND… LOVE your neighbor as you LOVE yourself. We are designed to be loving. One shouldn’t attempt to try to turn off the love as I did. One should let their heart be free to love as God intended.


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