Youmna El Halabi
Jazmine Sullivan’s Giving All Our Tales a Voice in Her Newest Album “Heaux Tales”
If you grew up in the 2000s, you inevitably jammed out to Jazmine Sullivan’s ground-breaking single “Bust Your Windows.” If you didn’t, you probably lived under a rock, or are too young.
Sullivan is known for her raspy, strong, and emotionally-loaded voice belting out intense feeling—an exemplary Hot/RnB singer.
She truly kicked off the new year with a collection of songs empowering women, dismantling every bit of the toxicity forced on us by the patriarchy, urging women to reclaim themselves; body, mind and soul.
“I wrote ‘Heaux Tales’ to give voice to every woman,” Sullivan says. “We’re deserving of respect whether we work as a CEO of a company or if we’re strippin’. 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 goddamn self.”
The obvious feminist tone is all over the album, and it is truly a masterpiece. Sullivan made sure to include a few short tracks, titling them after different women telling their tales. “Ari’s Tale” after Ari Lennox who is featured in the album, “Antoinette’s Tale,” “Rashida’s Tale,” “Donna’s Tale,” “Precious’ Tale,” all tales by Heaux confiding in their friends, pure honesty radiating from them, unapologetic, unfiltered, and most importantly: real. Everything women are taught not to be, but deserve to thrive as.
“The truth is, women of all ages have been called a ‘heaux’ at some point in life, whether deserved or not,” Sullivan says, “by some man trying to put us in our place; a place designed to keep us under control, out of the way and usually beneath them. Women are over feeling ashamed about the decision we have made, or chose to make, in regards to our bodies. We are multi-faceted and shouldn’t be defined by any one thing. We all have a journey to make and it’s our choice alone how we get there.”
The album is also empowering in an unexpected way, because it is not only filled with feminist anthems preaching strength, it is also about vulnerability, loss of confidence, insecurities, and humanity.
There is obvious contrast between songs like “Pick Up Your Feelings,” an empowering song about finding yourself after a break-up, free from being weighted down by feelings for someone undeserving; and “Lost One” where Sullivan is practically pleading her loved one to not forget about her, no matter how damaged she is. Or even the confidence radiating from a song like “Put it Down,” unapologetically owning one’s materialistic nature and admitting to know they’re beautiful, unashamed to admit that a sugar daddy wouldn’t be so bad—owning that gold-digger side women have been shamed for all their lives. But when you listen to a song like “Girl like Me” ft. H.E.R, the confidence is non-existent. Insecurities we’ve all dealt with after seeing an ex with someone who raises all these dormant doubts we refuse to let surface are sung about on this track. Feelings we avoid to deal with because the crippling anxiety of never being enough ends up settling in and never leaving.
As a woman, I have never felt closer to a female artist as I have with Jazmine Sullivan. Almost every song on this album describes a situation I’ve been through my life. And the sheer raw emotion she puts into every track shows the artist Sullivan doesn’t strive, but succeeds in being.