women deserve all. On this point, Jazmine Sullivan Tales of Heaux is unequivocal. His 2021 mini-opus is a joint emotional audit that associates almost every song with a confessional spoken “tale” recorded by a personal friend. With candid intimacy, the black women interviewed in these excerpts revealed harsh lessons in love, nuanced vignettes of relationships that have thrilled or scarred them. Their distinct yet harmonious perspectives place Sullivan’s music as part of a larger conversation, allowing him to interpret their experiences. Writing about women’s true feelings, the way women actually talk about them, Sullivan taps into a boundless creativity and empathy that allows her listeners to be equally generous.
Although Sullivan is gifted with a voice that can affect boastful confidence as easily as seeking angst, the original Tales of Heaux was unassuming: eight songs and six spoken interludes, described in early press materials as a project, and sometimes an EP, rather than an album. Inside, Sullivan and his collaborators drew a picture of lust, grief, betrayal, and insecurity so honest and complete it seemed instantly familiar. The new deluxe edition, Heaux Tales, Mo’ Tales, released ahead of Sullivan’s Valentine’s Day tour, expands the story with five additional songs and corresponding tales. We didn’t, strictly speaking, need it – the original album stands on its own. But it’s a rare chance to quickly hear a new body of work from Sullivan, who has typically spaced out his releases (with six years between Tales of Heaux and 2015 Reality show). Since her mother’s cancer diagnosis last spring, she says, the weather has felt different and “I can’t see myself taking as long as a break anymore.”
Carrying the energy of the closer original HER duo “Girl Like Me”, the new songs take on a slightly softer, more inward-focused sound. They are not as sharp as the original set; they prioritize their characters’ sexual and emotional needs over financial needs, uncovering new tensions and sources of light. Heauxdom, in Sullivan’s account, was never strictly about money. With the exception of “Donna’s Tale,” whose narrator observes (as Venus Xtravaganza once did) that even women in conventional marriages trade sex for safety, the album rarely touches on actual sex work. Its characters are empowered by getting money for sex and giving it away too — “I pay his rent if he’s mean,” Sullivan jokes on “Put It Down” — but inevitably the field leans towards the weight of the men’s rights. Tales of Heaux recognizes the right of women to operate with equal impunity, and the debt owed to them for enduring mistreatment for so long. When Sullivan imagines life as a housewife to a millionaire in “The Other Side,” singing so longingly about her “dreams of buying expensive things,” I hear in her voice the pain of someone who has already paid the price emotionally many times over.
Without going back or procrastinating, Tales Mo’ discovers new accounts first-hand and starts applying for loans. When these women can’t have good sex, they get away with it: “I fuck for sport. I’m fucking like it’s being recorded,” says comedian Mona Love on “Mona’s Tale,” which features “BPW,” responding to the album’s first half big cock sex with a round of sultry applause for the ” best pussy in the world”. .” In “Issa’s Tale,” actor and director Issa Rae describes feeling “used” by a selfish sex partner who “pumped me and dumped me” as he left town. Her story ends with a happy twist: “I’m so glad I cheated on him.” Sullivan ties the revelation to her summer 2021 single “Tragic,” a soft-sex lament that riffs on Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ viral procedural challenge to a Trump official (“Reclaiming my time”) to make the case. to fend for themselves. Rae’s story underscores the sentiment with a cheeky new implication: he can’t waste your time if you double-cross him.