Heaux Tales – A Review
Album Released: 8 January 2021
Artist: Jazmine Sullivan
The last time we heard from Jazmine Sullivan was with 2015’s Fearless,
she has returned six-years later with an EP entitled Heaux Tales released
this year on the 8th of January.
This body of work is a conceptual masterpiece, that’s brought conversations
women have had behind closed doors for years now to the fore.
Conversations revolving around sex, love and the relationships that
emanate therefrom. The title of the EP encapsulates the subject matter and
intention of the EP succinctly. Referring to promiscuous women, men have
used to the word “hoe” as a slur and in changing the spelling of the word to
“heaux” Jazmine cultivates a safe space for women – black women, as the
slur was created to degrade us specifically - thank you black men. Rather
than being looked down upon for owning your sexual prowess the spelling
and the grammatical implication of ownership of the “tales,” gives women
the space to express their sexual agency and the power to own their
decisions whether it be a feeling of pride or regret, Jazmine lets us know it is
okay to have gone through the journey as it carried with it lessons.
We are vast and varied and as such we have multiple realities that we face,
because black womanhood is not monolithic the EP explores this
multiplicity. The album features interludes called “Tales” – excerpts from
recorded conversations she’s had with friends and family members - from
women with differing personal perspectives of their concerns in terms of sex
and relationships. The tales range from telling women to own their sexual
agency as in Antoinette’s Tale as she says “… in reality the pussy is ours”,
to Donna’s Tale where she muses that all relationships are transactional in
nature, to Rashida’s Tale wherein she discusses how she felt after cheating
on her girlfriend, to Ari’s Tale (Ari Lennox) who declares how “dickmatized”she was and if we knew who this person was we’d ask, “bitch do you know
what google says” to which she replied; “yes, yes I do but I also know what
that dicks said.” The interludes complete the album in that they act as
author’s notes or introductory passages to what is to be discussed, melding
so well together that some tales share the subsequent songs backing track,
as in Ari’s Tale that segues perfectly into “Put It Down.” Tales of
experiences we might or might not have had but the main theme and what is
relatable is that we have been deprived the opportunity and that we too
deserve the freedom to express our sexuality as much as men do.
These tales are uncommon in their individual stories but are similar in their
honesty and are intentionally clear that this is judgement free - zone. That
expressions of our realities deserve to be told, but even more impactful to
that conversation is that we are talking to each other without the constant
coddling of men’s feelings, which she makes very clear in “Pick Up Your
The influence of Jazmine’s upbringing in the church is evident, especially in
“Donna’s Tale” where we hear a church organ playing in the background.
Donna is ‘preaching’ to her friends with loud cheers of support as one would
hear in church during testimonials. It is apt not just for this tale but that all
the tales feel like testimonials of some sort, but without the judgement, side
eyes and paternalism of the church.
While giving space to “Heaux Tales” Jazmine also sings her ass off, riffing
and running amok with relatable quips like “I want to sit on it.” or “Boy
please, I don’t need it.” There is so much power in the subject matter and its
delivery is an illustration of understanding and hearty conviction. An
invitation to own your sexuality especially for a class of people who contend
with both racial and misogynistic barriers, owning our sexuality or lack
thereof is power inducing. It is a great listen, both fun and engaging- you
could listen to it alone or with a group of friends - it is really a meditation on
sexual liberation to which your girls will always have the front row seat.