Jazmine Sullivan & Issa Rae Link Up For An Epic Conversation On Flexing Their Grown Woman Ish
Jazmine Sullivan is music royalty. She's rightfully deemed as one of the best voices to ever hit a studio, and she's also the queen of relatable music, a page out of Mary J. Blige's book. In fact, also similar to Mary, she makes some of the best music when she's her mental health is out of alignment. Ain't that a bitch?
At the top of this year, Sullivan released her highly, highly anticipated EP, Heaux Tales, and even put into the universe a potential collaboration with fellow GOAT, Issa Rae. "What I would love is if me and @IssaRae did a heauxtales short film, and I'd add a few extra songs. But I could just be dreaming. Nvm me. I'm crazy." Issa soon after answered, with five simple words: "Jazmine. Say the f–k less."
The rest, is Black women's history, as they sneaky linked up for an interview with ESSENCE, hopefully with more to come.
And listen, during this interview, they discussed it all. From being fans of the other, to learning to say 'no more' to the childish things (for now), as our good sis Jazmine says she is now all about therapy, new music, and creating spaces for Black women.
Continue reading for highlights of the cover story below!
On having a master plan...or not:
When Issa asked the crooner how her album Fearless came about, sis responded gracefully:
"I wish I could say I had a master plan, but I really didn't. I was just doing what felt natural, and luckily I had gotten with a record company and with people who allowed me to do that. But for me, I just wanted to express myself in the most natural way, and that means me writing my stories. So many of the songs at that time came from a lot of the childish stuff I was going through.
"For example, busting windows out of an ex's car and literally going straight from doing it to not being able to sleep. I was restless, because I was still in the moment. And so I just started writing about it. I let my girlfriends hear it, and they were like, 'Girl, do your thing—whatever this leads to.' And it led to my world opening up in such a different way…"
On telling Black women's stories:
"Before now, I had really just been concerned about expressing myself and getting my story out there—and people have connected to that. But for this project, it was important for me to share the stories of the women I love and hold dear to my heart. I feel like they are just as banging and dynamic as me. And I want to give space and opportunity to women, period…"
On making space for Black women:
Earlier this year, Jazmine went viral for hitting social media and teaching us all how to perfect the art of the vocal--a skill she is notorious for. As it turns out, she's just looking out for the culture.
"I feel like we get caught up in thinking there's 'only one' of us. There can only be one R&B superstar; there can only be one rap girl at a time. That's not true. God was not stingy when He was giving out gifts. And you're not the only person. There are many other women, especially Black women, who can do what you do. And let's all create spaces for each other to get out there and do that…"
On self-care and finding the right therapist:
"The first five minutes I was holding back tears, because I was like, 'Wow, this is the first time I'm actually speaking about my feelings. And it's not in a song. It doesn't require notes. I don't need to impress anybody with what it is that I'm actually doing. This is the first time.' So I was holding back tears even doing that. But after that first five minutes, I was surprised by how much I was enjoying speaking to somebody, and somebody listening to me, and I didn't have to perform to do it.
"But finding the right therapist is a process—because I went to therapy one time, years ago, and I hated the experience, and I feel like it stopped me from going for a long time. And then I found this new lady, and it's a totally different experience. So you have to find the right person for you, that you actually want to open up to. But once you do that, a weight lifts off of you—just from speaking, just from telling your story. And that's what Heaux Tales was. It's like, 'Tell it, girl. Tell it. Set yourself free.'"
So here for all of this, whew!
Sullivan is headlining this year's ESSENCE Festival of Culture presented by Coca-Cola®. The full conversation between Jazmine Sullivan and Issa Rae for the July/August 2021 issue of ESSENCE, will be available on newsstands + digital platforms June 29.
Featured image via Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Tyler Perry Studios
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Hands down and without hesitation, my favorite time of the year is the fall season. I like the cooler temperatures. I like the turn of the leaves. Some of my favorite men (my late father and late fiancé) were Libras. Layering clothes is dope. I start to (slightly) swap out iced chai lattes (with oat milk) for hot chocolate and apple cider. The foods that are in season then are some of my faves (eggplant parmesan, anyone?). Watching sports outside is fun — need I go on? And so, even though I like to write about sex — especially ways to have even better sex — any time of the year, it’s right around now when I start to get inspired to pitch topics like this one.
And honestly, I ain’t got no lies for you. The reason why this headline has “2.0” in it is because it was right around this time, three years ago, when I penned the piece “Here's How To Have Some Really Great Fall-Themed Sex.” Well, I think it’s been long enough to “upgrade” it a bit by providing you with 15 other fall-related ideas that could cause you to literally fall in love with fall as much as I have…and quite possibly renew your enthusiasm in the bedroom in the process.
Can you feel yourself getting excited? LOL.
1. Pumpkin. Lots ‘n Lots of Pumpkin.
Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin lattes. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkin deviled eggs. It should go without saying that if there is a signature food for this time of year, pumpkin would be it. So, if you’re someone who is big on aphrodisiac consumption, definitely add more pumpkin into your diet, even if it’s snacking on pumpkin seeds. Between the zinc that’s in it, which helps to boost your libido (and can even help with erectile dysfunction in men) and the fatty acids that help to keep sex hormones in balance, every time you enjoy some of your favorite pumpkin-flavored foods, you’ll be giving your sex life quite the boost.
2. DIY Some Cranberry Seed Massage Oil
Another fruit (because, yes, pumpkin is indeed a fruit) that is at its best during the autumn season is the cranberry. Although many of us don’t give it much thought beyond the cranberry sauce that sits on the table during Thanksgiving, its scent is actually pretty sensual when you use it in the form of a scented soy candle or if you decide to make some of your own massage oil.
In fact, if you purchase organic cranberry seed oil, it naturally comes with a subtle cranberry scent which means that you can give your man a lingam massage (check out “Blow Your Man's Mind By Giving Him This Tantalizing Massage”) without worrying if the ingredients in the oil will irritate his penis in the process.
As far as how to make the oil, all you need is some cranberry seed oil, a favorite carrier oil (check out “So, Here Are The Carrier Oils That Will Take Your Sex Life To A Whole 'Nother Level”), and possibly a bit of honey (for flavoring’s sake) and you’re good to go; especially if you heat it up in the microwave for like 10 seconds before applying. Whew, chile.
3. Also, DIY Some Pear-Flavored Whipped Cream
Another fruit that’s in season for fall is a pear. I like them, not just for how they taste, but because they symbolize things like abundance, femininity, fertility, and happy relationships — all of which are awesome things to think about when you’re sharing intimacy with your partner. That said, you know, there is nothing quite like bringing in a condiment or two during sex (check out “12 ‘Sex Condiments’ That Can Make Coitus Even More...Delicious”), and so, if whipped cream is totally your thing, how about making some that is pear-flavored? I found a recipe that is super easy (so long as you have some xanthan gum around). You can check it out here.
4. Incorporate Some Vanilla Lubricant
Another popular scent for autumn is vanilla. As far as your sex life is concerned, science backs that the smell of it can increase sexual arousal and even improve sexual performance in some people. Since pretty much all of us know that sex is so much better when it’s wetter, it might also be a good idea to have some vanilla (especially vanilla-flavored) lubricant on tap. Hello Cake has a vanilla chai lube that is a fan favorite (you can get it here). I also peeped a TikTok post that features a DIY recipe for this kind of lube (here), although it needs to go on record that it’s not the kind that you would incorporate if you use condoms (because there’s oil in it). Just sayin’.
5. Make Some Maple Syrup-Flavored Lip Butter
Is there anything better than a stack of homemade pancakes or French toast with some maple syrup on a cold weekend morning? Take the maple flavor up a notch by making some lip butter that tastes just like it. You know, I was recently talking to a group of guys about some of their underrated turn-ons, and one of them said that when a woman exfoliates her lips, he can always tell because they feel extra soft. Let that be a reminder that taking a couple of minutes out to apply a lip scrub ain’t never hurt nobody. Then, if you add some lip butter afterwards?
Girrrl…he’ll be all up in your mouth from sunset to sunrise! (No, I didn’t forget. The lip butter recipe is here.)
6. Add Some Lit Vines Around Your Bed
It’s kind of wild how much people underestimate the sensuality of good lighting when you’re trying to set the mood. Although candlelight is always a bomb option, if you want to think a little outside of the box, there are vines that you can purchase to put around your bed. I found some on Amazon (here) that can make you and your partner feel like y’all are in an enchanted forest or a log cabin somewhere — until you can actually get there. Plus, this kind of lighting can be sexy because it can cast shadows on your body without making you feel super self-conscious in the way that overhead lighting or a lamp (with a bright bulb) could.
7. Put Some Fairy Lights in Some Mason Jars
As far as lighting goes, another option to consider is putting some fairy lights into a couple of mason jars. I find this option to be very romantic as well as seductive. Plus, if you’re looking to create a sexy night at the last minute, you can find the lights and the jars pretty easily and at a reasonable price. For instance, a quick Walmart run would have you covered, all the way around.
8. Apply Some Apple and/or Caramel-Scented Fabric Spray
When it comes to attraction, looks aren’t everything. Studies reveal that how someone smells can help you decide if you’re truly interested in them or not. Not only that, but scent can impact your mood and performance ability, and, I’ve shared before that people with smell sensitivities tend to get aroused more easily; some women who fall into that demographic are able to have more orgasms too.
For all of these reasons (and probably more), you definitely should pay attention to how things smell in your bedroom prior to copulating. Something that you can do to make your bedding smell delightful is to either find a fabric spray that smells like fall-themed things such as apples or even caramel. I even found one on Amazon that is a combination of the two (here). #yourewelcome
9. Create Some Fall-Themed Potpourri
Do you want to keep some of the scents from your favorite summer flowers around for longer? Or maybe you want to avoid spending money on Air Wick and Glade Plug-Ins. Either way, something else to consider is making some of your own potpourri. I grew up with that in the house, and it really did make every room of the home smell divine. A YouTube Short that will walk you through how to make a fall-themed one is located right here.
10. Design a “Fallen Leaves with Love Notes” Hanging
While I was playing around on the internet a couple of days ago, I happened upon a page that was full of fall-centered arts and crafts. One that I liked, especially, was a hanging that had faux fall leaves on it (it’s #9 here). After looking at it, I thought, “Now, how sweet would it be to add some handwritten cards or Post-its that either express how someone feels about their partner or what they want to do to their partner?” You can even switch it up every couple of weeks to add some spontaneity. Just putting it on out there for you home décor (who also happen to be horny) folks.
11. Invest in Some Silk Sheets
If you go to your favorite search engine and you put something along the lines of “silk and warmth,” you will see all kinds of articles that cosign on the fact that although silk is light and soft, it also is a temperature regulator that has the ability to keep you warm. So, as the temperature drops and you’re looking for some sheets that will feel good to the touch, don’t have as much “heat generating potential” as flannel, and can bring sensuality into your space, investing in some silk sheets is definitely the way to go.
12. Pick Up Some Fall-Themed Lingerie
If you’re getting new bras and panties (roughly) twice a year (because that is what you’re doing…right?), you should put in your budget to cop some new sexy lingerie while you’re at it. Basically, some new stuff for spring and summer and some new different stuff for fall and winter. Since Black women look AMAZING in jewel tones (which are big during the holiday season), knock yourself out — or even go with something that particularly caught my eye called “Fall Fire Lingerie” (here). Husbands are constantly telling me that when their wife puts on something that they haven’t seen before, it’s like Christmas all over again. So, why not ring in Christmas early this year, a few times? Real talk.
13. Hang Some Eucalyptus Vines on Your Showerhead
Listen, the past couple of weeks, I know of several people who’ve gotten COVID; one had to be hospitalized. So, although I am a huge fan of shower sex (check out “So, This Is How To Make Shower Sex So Much Better”) and I absolutely think that bringing some greenery into the space is visually appealing, there is another reason why I’m making this suggestion.
Fresh eucalyptus has the ability to relieve congestion, suppress coughing, and make it easier to breathe. So, since the fall and winter seasons are the time of year when people tend to have more colds, be proactive and hang some of these vines from your showerhead. It looks great, it’s good for you, and it can help to keep both of you from passing unwanted germs back and forth.
14. Swap Out Your Light Bulbs for Something…with a Deeper Glow
Oh, here’s another lighting idea. So, what if you prefer to have sex when it’s pitch black and your partner would like a little bit of mood lighting? Colors like red and orange definitely fit in with autumn — and they also can be a real turn-on in the bedroom if you swap out your white bulbs for ones that are that color instead. They can also help you to relax when you’re all caught up in the afterglow of things too. #wink
15. Enjoy a Fall Fruit Aphrodisiac Cocktail
Whether it’s red wine, whisky, or tequila — all of them can get you where you’re good to go. That’s why, it only seemed right to wrap this up by recommending that you make a cocktail out of a fruit that’s in season this fall, whether it’s apples, pears, figs, passionfruit, pomegranates or something else that tickles your, umm, fancy. A girlfriend of mine is a huge — and I mean, HUGE — fan of fig and honey cocktails (recipe here) and ginger pomegranate martinis (recipe here) as far as her libido goes. She’s got sex stories for days, so…I’d at least give it a shot (no pun intended).
LAWD. Who thought that fall could be this damn sexy, right? Enjoy, sis. ENJOY!
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