To say that she hasn’t crossed your radar in the last 20 years in any capacity is a testament to one’s lack of cultural consciousness. Aside from releasing five intricately crafted albums in that time span, her presence remains acknowledged.
In May, her uplifting abundance of kinship with Erykah Badu for the first female Verzuz event generated over one billion impressions across the web. The record-breaking match resulted in a major streaming boost, increasing significantly after the Instagram live broadcast. Her reach extends the masses but the homegrown vocalist had to dig her roots before bearing the richly satisfying fruit.
Hailing from North Philadelphia, Scott wasn’t reserved about her place or talent in the industry. The certitude emanating from her invitingly bright energy caused her introduction to be undoubtedly favorable. She brought an affable aspect, prompting fans to immediately hover around her radiance. Like a good girlfriend, Scott shared just enough of her business to keep listeners satiated while inspiring them to recall their own love related relationships and situations.
Her appeal was steeped in authentic relatability. As she penned and vocally painted vivid images of love personified, Scott exposed a glimpse of how love can feel and perform when it’s unapologetically real.
“I wrote this album like a human being,” she told Billboard in September 2000. “I sing like a Black woman. I didn’t talk about what everyone else is talking about. If the people who hear my album don’t share my experiences, at least they understand.”
From her personal accounts, the deep-rooted understanding translated precisely in her music. While the shared encounters forged and strengthened Scott’s connections with her fans, another important component to her artistry is her attention to detail. Her notes danced in an assured familiarity that brought common human reactions to life. Synchronously, her lyrics sparked distinct memories that summoned fresh recollections down to the minute degree.
The presence of her poetry background looms here and there without imposing its dominance but simply supplementing the message with resolution. Suitably titled Who is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds, Vol. 1, her debut supplied a nourishing serving of expressive phrases and poised tones that proclaimed her distinguished arrival.
Scott touches on the numerous facets and levels of love and relationships, all in which many can relate to in some way. As all unions go through their ups and downs and many stages, Jilly from Philly has a song for each one.
Inspired by the first date with her first husband, “A Long Walk” circulates through all the possibilities and wonders of where things could go. She shows appreciation for her date with a keen interest in actually getting to know him. The bridge leads to an assortment of in-depth date ideas, listed in excitement to the likeness of how well the first rendezvous goes. It became a staple on the quiet storm radio format in the early 2000s and formed into a bonafide classic over the years. Doubling as a metaphor for taking things slow in a relationship and in life, she reminds us to enjoy and value the journey along the way to the desired destination.
“It’s Love” ups the ante as the album takes a slight detour to Washington, D.C., for the track’s go-go influenced sound. The proclamation of love wastes no time and quickly growls one minute and 15 seconds into the track. Congas, snare drums and hi-hats marry to create a lively fusion, as the horns amplify this romantic revelation. She parallels her affection to a good home-cooked meal in the breakdown, fulfilling and sustaining. Like a nice helping of comfort food, Scott graciously layers her passionate reasoning for a savory and generous dish.
A balancing act of poetry and song evens out on “Love Rain.” By this time in the album, her poetic side has already revealed itself but this narrative lends to a fervent performance. The spoken word segment is set in a melodic surge that takes gradual force, drawing listeners in with each fierce stanza. Her delivery remains on par towards the latter as she goldenly wades in the melancholy of a deceitful love. A bittersweet justice is done to the song’s painstaking recounts, but one can’t help to get caught up in the whirlwind of the unbeknown dalliance and the rendition of its aftermath.
While Scott revels in the bliss, she’s equally aware of the jarring reality exhibited from all sorts of bonds. For those who have become intimate with a potential lover, hoping the connection is felt on both sides, feel free to pour a worrisome glass of “Honey Molasses.” In the newfound priority of self-care, “One Is the Magic #” will surely aid in discovering love and wholeness from within. Taking a page from her descendants of soul, “Watching Me” is an urgent call to remain cognizant in the age of surveillance.
The regal artist graced the music industry and was placed in the neo soul lane during the subsect’s steady reign. It began to grow during the mid ‘90s but took a stronger form at the turn of the millennium. Badu had already been illustrated as one of its bastions, yet Scott brought a less cerebral but emotive dimension. She has her moments of bringing awareness to social issues, providing an additional view for the masses.
Although her hometown had already delivered some renowned talent over the years, Scott led the way for artists like Kindred the Family Soul, Vivian Green and Floetry to follow through the path. For Kindred the Family Soul, she brought them into the fold of the Hidden Beach Records family. As for Floetry, her spoken word roots assuage their signature niche. Meanwhile, Green became Scott’s background singer before her major-label debut.
Her influence makes slight peeks in the current landscape among a few singers of today. H.E.R. has been known to utilize poetry on songs like “Pigment” and “Against Me,” adding context to her equally relatable lyrics. Taking a note from Scott, R&B newcomer Ari Lennox occasionally leans on a similarly jazzy tone, displayed on “Up Late.” She exercises background vocals in a corresponding fashion and plays with conversational execution as well. Altering her intonation on “Grampa” resembles Scott’s knack for swiftly shifting her voice and range.
It may be surprising to know that Scott’s admirable debut took some time to catch on. The relationship with words goes beyond her scribe abilities, as the simple marketing technique of word of mouth is what increased album sales over a span of nearly two months.
Her magic lies in her proficiency to supply ordinary topics in a grounded style. Taking cues from opera and jazz, her unique gift to stand in the power of her vulnerability is what truly sets her apart. She reaches to the core and vocally depicts with meticulous care what love, heartbreak, lust and confidence feels like with a secure sense of determination. Jill Scott knows just how to get to us, slowly and surely.
Revisit Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds, Vol. 1 below.