Once upon a time, there was a skilled songwriter and a vocal great named Jazmine Sullivan. Since 2008, the unparalleled talent has seen 12 Grammy nominations and put out three stellar albums. Six years after having fans tune into her Reality Show, Sullivan has opened a new chapter of her impressive career and titles it Heaux Tales.
As if the project’s title was self-explanatory enough, Sullivan puts pen to paper to vividly tell the unabashed stories and unique experiences that aren’t just exclusive to her life, but to women everywhere.
“I wrote Heaux Tales to give voice to every woman,” Sullivan explained in a press statement. “We’re deserving of respect whether we as a C.E.O. of a company or if we stripping. It’s about unity. It’s about boldness. It’s about ownership and confidence and also vulnerability and self-reflection.”
Having survived another sauced night that involved a random hookup and unlimited drinks, Sullivan starts the 14-track project in a careless haze with “Bodies (Intro).” Expected to have a dead iPhone, featuring multiple texts from sister-friends that read “Are you okay?” and “Did you make it home?” Sullivan once again tries to piece together the events of the night before. Luckily, the hard finger snaps and dizzy synths kept her alert enough to give the Uber driver directions home.
For listeners judging a woman’s choice to have her sexual cravings fulfilled by a one-night stand, “Antoinette’s Tale” is a cease and desist to stop policing women’s bodies. “Pick Up Your Feelings,” the project’s second single, is the drawstring on the large black trash bag that contains the few remains of her former man’s belongings. At her best, when she’s giving a fuckboy hell after he’s taken her to that boiling point, the DZL-crafted kissoff gets the best justice live as Sullivan takes the vocal runs up a notch.
Comedian Sommore once said, “You don’t know good dick like I know good dick.” The best example of that comedic claim is “Put It Down,” a dickmatized high where Sullivan flexes a masterful trap soul cadence. Sullivan continues to be under the spell of the D on her slow-grooving duet, “On It,” featuring Ari Lennox, who lends commentary to an interlude two songs prior.
“Donna’s Tale” is a mood and one of the rawest conversational interludes from the project. It indirectly takes the wise words of rap god Lil Kim, who once spit that pussy is power. Over a churchy organ and a couple of amens from two sister-friends, Ms. Donna approves, “it ain’t trickin if you got it.” On “Pricetags” featuring Grammy-winning chameleon Anderson .Paak, Sullivan proves she has what it takes to be an honorable member of the City Girls, declaring that dead presidents keep her prized lovebox on Fuji.
Heaux Tales also includes early singles, such as the return single “Lost One” and the H.E.R.-assisted track, “Girl Like Me.” A minimal guitar arrangement informs the former. In contrast, the pensive lyrics and emotional tone are full and express the realization that she’s let a solid man slip through her grasp.
The fact that Sullivan can still be this authentic, uncompromising, and upfront in her adept delivery and deft songwriting as she was since Fearless reminds us of imperfection. This music on Heaux Tales is like a missing heel tip from one foot of a pair of stilettos. Sometimes we have to walk with our head held high about every decision we make in life, without the cares of the world, even if we’re limping through the mess we’ve made.
Listen to Heaux Tales by Jazmine Sullivan below.