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Jazmine Sullivan speaks on her struggles, spiritual growth, and her sultry new release, 'Heaux Tales'

Cassie Owens, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Entertainment News

"It's really a roller coaster ride. Things are going well, and out of nowhere things can't be," Sullivan said. "But it definitely affected the way that I see life and like time, really. So for me, I can't see myself taking as long as a break anymore in between projects, because of this experience."

There's been confusion over whether "Heaux Tales" is an album, which it is not. There's an album in the works.

Before, Sullivan had been working on this new EP and the forthcoming album simultaneously, Trevor Jerideau, senior vice president of A&R at RCA Music Group, explained in an interview Friday. Sullivan had been working with the concept for "Heaux Tales" for about two years and was close to completing it before the pandemic arrived. Jerideau said initially they were thinking of it as a mixtape.

"I'm a homebody," added Sullivan, who said she values her privacy and her chill time. "I had been quarantining before this."

About 98% of the EP was recorded from her home in Philly, explained Sullivan, whom Jerideau called "the boss."

"I wish I could take more credit on this particular project, but I can't. Because this is her. This is her brainchild. She actually delivered the songs to me," said Jerideau, who said they worked on adjustments from there.

 

Three songs have featured artists, "Pricetags" with Anderson .Paak, "Girl Like Me" with labelmate H.E.R. and "On It" with Ari Lennox.

The duet "On It" already a fan favorite, Sullivan and Lennox tell their men, in no cloaked terms, what they want to do to them. Lennox also appears in one of the EP's interludes, "Ari's Tale," which pulls from the time Lennox admitted on IG Live that she had been "literally willing to ruin my career" because of a former partner's gifts in the bedroom.

"Heaux Tales" seams together the stories of women like Lennox and Anderson, with Sullivan's own storytelling. While some songwriters might sing as themselves or offer one consistent persona, Sullivan writes from the perspectives of many characters. Like the betrayed woman who busts all of the windows or the woman forlorn over the rapper who left her as he found success. On one of her new songs, "The Other Side," she takes on the role of a woman who plans a materialistic dream for herself — including riches, boyfriend-financed butt enhancements and planned pregnancies through surrogates.

"She is a collector of stories, and she has the vocal chops to see these characters through," said Lynnée Denise, a DJ and music historian based in Amsterdam. "Imagine if Toni Morrison could sing all the characters in 'Beloved.' ... There's something about Black women, and literature, and characters, and voices, and world-building around Black music that I think that she also is part of."

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