Despite being an extended play, Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales feels a lot like a concept album rather than an EP. Her first effort since her critically acclaimed 2015 album Reality Show, Jazmine is known to take long breaks between music releases, much like R&B Artist D’Angelo. In between that time, Jazmine Sullivan has been contributing to other artist’s works, most notably Frank Ocean and Mary J. Blige. She also contributed to the soundtrack of the popular HBO show Insecure, and in 2019, she made an appearance on acapella group Pentatonix’s compilation album The Best of Pentatonix Christmas.
It was not until August 28th of last year that fans got a glimpse of new music from the R&B singer, with the release of the track “Lost One”. The same day of the song’s release, Jazmine confirmed the name of her EP, Heaux Tales. Released early last month, the album is worth the wait. Conceptually, the album tells the various tales of mostly young millennial black women, and their experiences with love and sex. These informative spoken-word segments are followed by a song afterward that speaks on the subject as a character study. This concept instantly draws comparisons to Lauryn Hill’s 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Musically the album falls somewhere between Frank Ocean’s Blonde and SZA’s Cntrl. The album begins with the intro track “Bodies”, where Jazmine speaks on the dangers of debauchery, and how she needs to stop. Jazmine’s voice and lyrics are very revealing, accompanied by the harmonies and production, this a strong start to the EP.
This is instantly followed by the first spoken interlude, “Antoinette’s Tale”. Here the woman speaks on men’s insecurities and the fact that they can’t take it when women take the same liberties as them in regards to sex. Out of all of the spoken interludes in the EP, this is perhaps the most factual, and least revealing of the themes. What follows after this interlude, is some of the most honest, sad, and shocking truths heard from a woman. These themes range from a woman feeling insecure to the point that she feels sex is her only weapon, to another woman confessing that she let her man verbally abuse her because he pleasured her so well in the bedroom.
The track “Lost One” deals with the heartache brought on by the breakup with a lover due to infidelity. The track itself has a combination of R&B and atmospheric ambient sounds that resemble Frank Ocean’s track “Nikes”. Another notable track is the somewhat humorous “On It”, where the singer claims she wants to sit on top of him during sex but wants him to earn this luxury. The vocal harmonies on the track’s chorus are stellar, but the lyrical subject of the song may bring out a jiggle or two from the listener.
Guest appearances on her are limited, with Anderson .Paak and H.E.R. being the only notable guests besides the spoken interludes. The lack of features on this project works to Jazmine’s favour, as she’s the true star of the show in a genre of music where sometimes too many features on an album can often make the main artist feel like a guest on their own album or EP.
Jazmine Sullivan’s latest effort is a great start to the year for music fans. Not only is its concept fresh and engaging, but it also gives a voice to a generation of black women that can sometimes be unheard or ignored. At its core, it’s about women talking about their imperfect stories, completely unashamed.