Jazmine Sullivan's "Heaux Tales": An Analysis

Vocal powerhouse Jazmine Sullivan released her long-awaited project titled “Heaux Tales” on January 8th, and it still continues to gain traction weeks after its release. Following her 2015 album “Reality Show,” “Heaux Tales,” as described by Sullivan herself, “[is] about unity. It’s about boldness… It’s about women writing their own imperfect stories.”

Her EP begins with "Bodies (Intro)," where she sings of a tale that many women have encountered while on the dating scene: "You don't know who you went home with, who you went home with again/Was it your friend? Or a friend of a friend?/Was he a four? Or was he a ten?" She then sings of recognizing one's worth after being done wrong on "Pick Up Your Feelings." Songs later, she takes on heartbreaks and setbacks when it comes to ending a relationship on "Lost One": "You know when you lost one/You go out and f--- different people to cope and ignore all precautions.” Her final track with the once-mysterious R&B star H.E.R. may hit home for most on “Girl Like Me,” speaking volumes to a story many know well. It addresses the pain that comes with heartbreak after heartbreak and seeing so many other women that are able to appease men, and in turn, becoming like said women. 

What is most unique about “Heaux Tales” is the interludes in between songs. Enlisting the help of friends and family, they were able to address topics related to forthcoming songs. On the interlude “Amanda’s Tale,” Amanda Henderson shares, “It's a little hurtful that I can't just be confident in being with one person that I gotta look over my shoulder. Looking at these girls on Instagram and… It's hard sometimes because I don't have all that that they have… I feel moments of sadness knowing that, you know, just me alone who I am is not enough.” Another interlude, “Precious’ Tale,” details why she, like many women, does not want to be with anyone that does not have money. While this may be perceived as gold-digging, it’s more of a matter of shared ambition. She shares, “I'ma get my own, and I'ma be able to stand on my own. But I'm not gonna deal with anyone unless they can contribute to what I'm doing.”

While the project itself is an incredible body of work, with features from fellow R&B stars Ari Lennox (“On It”,) H.E.R, and Anderson. Paak (“Pricetags”), what is most noteworthy is the way that Sullivan writes these songs and creates these unique stories from so many points of view. At first, listen, the project is bold and brash, tackling explicit topics in a way that many people would not be so open to discussing. What is important to keep in mind, though, is that just because what she sings in songs may not be her own personal story, it is someone else’s. No one is perfect, and no matter how outlandish someone’s life may be, it is still their own.