We truly do not deserve Jazmine Sullivan. After a six-year hiatus, she released her EP, Heaux Tales, to start 2021 the correct way. It’s a collection of eight songs side-by-side, showcasing real “tales” of sex, money, and discourses on relationships women in her life have had. The tales and songs together act as a call and response. While embracing all of these principles, Jazmine reminds us of the roots of R&B. She gives us gospel but makes it nasty (via Twitter .)
Any woman who wants a man with money is immediately labeled as a “gold digger.” But “Precious’ Tale” preaches the reality that we know our worth. A woman wanting money in a relationship is just proof that we have ambitions too. “The Other Side” is the most empowering track on the EP. It outlines these dreams of owning a business, finding a man with money, and paying rent on time. “Price Tags (feat. Anderson .Paak)” does the same thing, but a little more cocky this time. Anderson .Paak essentially takes the role of complaining about a woman running up a check. Still, if a man wants to indulge in her body, he must respect a mutually beneficial relationship.
“Lost One” is the answer to “Rashida’s Tale.” Together, they showcase the pain when we admittedly hurt someone we truly love. The lyrics on this track are authentically apologetic, yet an acceptance and ownership of mistakes that have been made.
“Antoinette’s Tale” voices the hard truth that men cannot handle a woman who assumes power over her own body. Male dominance and ownership of female bodies is too often normalized in heteronormative relationships. My personal favorite, “Girl Like Me (feat. H.E.R.),” is the perfect conclusion and response to this sentiment. It’s almost entirely acoustic, making it incredibly intimate. H.E.R. matches Jazmine’s energy with flawless vocal runs like no other. “I ain’t wanna be, but you gon’ make a hoe outta me;” these lyrics are a little too accurate. The slow buildup to a painful cry of feeling unwanted by a partner epitomizes the contradictions that women experience. We want to be desired without compromising ourselves, but this ends up being the case.
Heaux Tales speaks on behalf of Black women in ways that we didn’t even know we needed. The EP is insightful while showcasing Jazmine and her contributors’ beautiful and naturally trained voices. R&B “these days” neglects the vocal techniques and instrumentations given at its birth, making it acceptable for just “anyone” to put themselves in the category. But Jazmine has redefined this genre, creating a standard that cannot be met all willy-nilly. Her talent is unmatched, and her stories are incredibly valued.