THE TALES OF A SELF-REFLECTING HEAUX
Updated: Jan 14
After five years of hibernation, Jazmine Sullivan is back and this time she is here to give a voice to every woman through her beautiful voice and a narrative that explores love, lust, sex and money. The R&B singer draws on her own personal experiences and others to create a fully realised vision of love, lust and loss. A bittersweet story if you ask me.
Jazmine shares that "I wrote Heaux Tales to give a voice to every woman. We’re deserving of respect whether we work as a CEO of a company or we stripping. It’s about unity. It’s about boldness. It’s about ownership and confidence and also about vulnerability and self reflection. It’s about a woman deciding how she wants to present herself to the world and not being told or influenced by anyone but her gotdamn self. It’s about women writing their own imperfect stories. Unashamed."
This 14-track EP by Philadelphia R&B singer features guest appearances from Anderson .Paak, H.E.R. and Ari Lennox. The EP almost feels like a girls-night in infused with a FEW glasses of wine as we share our intimate/sloppy and vulnerable moments that yield the thin line between love and lust. Jazmine does this so well by coupling a series of intimate confessions with embarrassingly honest, beautiful ballads that position secular sex tales. At the core of it all, every song captures junctures that are birthed by romance and heightened by insecurities and yearning desires leading to either nights of empowerment or regret for some.
Sullivan is of course a veteran when it comes to passionate love songs. One of her most recognizable hits, 2008’s “Bust Your Windows,” remains an eternal revenge fantasy. With Heaux Tales, we’re made privy to a new prism of perspectives and we are very much here for it.
The EP opens with “Bodies,” where we find our narrator in a moment of self-reflection: “You don’t know who you went home with, again”. Sullivan sings in a rapturous full tenor which makes us feel as though the experience of sleeping around seems particularly spiritual. She exemplifies a woman's internal dialogue while in a questionable circumstance with a man she has no business spending the night with. Despite societal pressures, she is unapologetic and describes her newfound liberation on "Pick Up Your Feelings”. Personally speaking "Heaux Tales” greatest takeaway is "On It," featuring Ari Lennox, whose voice melts into Sullivan's like butter, both highlighting the emergence of the modern-day woman who is unafraid to demand all forms of intimacy — especially when advocating for her own pleasure.
The second half of the EP navigates away from a woman hesitantly owning her sexual freedom to the thoughts that creep in after she is “free” from society’s sexist paralysis. Sullivan makes it clear in “Pricetags” that whether through marriage or any other accepted relationship, "money keeps the pussy wet.”. She confidently addresses the intricacies of currency in relationships with the help of Anderson .Paak. Of course, the album’s perspectives do contradict themselves at times. On songs like “The Other Side” and “Pricetags,” sex is a bold means of liberation. Then, on “Amanda’s Tale”, we hear Sullivan’s friend of 20 years dismally admitting that looking to sex for power leaves her feeling insecure. This interlude is followed by “Girl Like Me,” in which Sullivan and H.E.R sing of the hoes in Fashion Nova dresses who steal their love interests away from them. We see the narrative of “Hoe-ing” going from a source of pride and abundance to one of shame. Sullivan’s song writing is intricate and agile. The juxtaposition leaves us conflicted and Jazmine ensures to remind us that both conflicts can live in one woman at once.
Sullivan is often overlooked as the R&B master she is, but her latest project displays the vocal range of legends before her, demonstrating her ability to capture the qualms of life and love relevant to the realities of dating in the age of the internet. All in all, Heaux Tales contends with what can be lost and gained through sex, from a secure sense of self (“Get it together, bitch,” she tells herself on “Bodies.” “You gettin’ sloppy.”) to wild desire (“I spend my last ’cause the D bomb,” she proudly admits on “Put It Down”). The conversational bursts of specificity in these discourses encourage self-reflection within us all. This and many other reasons are why "HEAUX TALES" is the VER-ses Of The Month.