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Music Monday: 30 Songs You Need In Your Life Right Now

These artists are choosing themselves and their peace above all.

Music

Despite the summer, and its heat, being on the rise, broken hearts continues to be this summer's biggest downfall. Although, thankfully, these broken hearts are not generic. They don't reside in one broken relationship after the other. Instead, these heartbreaks show up in various forms, from various captors. Some of the pain comes from falling out of love with another, others come from falling out of love with oneself. Regardless, it is safe to say that a few of these broken hearts are no longer accompanied by hurt feelings.


Instead, the artists of this week let you know that their hearts are broken, but they are more than happy to move on. Some of them acknowledge being foolish and creating their own issues ("Foolish Hearts"), others place the blame at the feet of the person who deserves it ("Don't Blame It on Love"). Either way, the music of this week shows what happens when one decides to push their heartache aside, whether romantic or familial, and chooses themselves and their peace overall.

1."Tragic" - Jazmine Sullivan

The only thing tragic about Jazmine Sullivan's recent single, is the very notion that it's not bigger than it is. Coming off the high of her January album, Heaux Tales, Jazmine Sullivan is back to release her newest single "Tragic." The song begins with the voice of Maxine Waters as she explains why she is infamously reclaiming her time. Similar to Waters, Sullivan believes that her time was wasted on a man who didn't bother to try. Refusing to waste her time any longer, Sullivan reclaims what is left of her time and chooses to spend it on someone worth it.

With powerhouse vocals, smooth and alluring melodies, and fierce lyrics, Jazmine is demanding in what she wants and what she refuses to accept. Long gone are the days where she allows herself to be put second. Long gone are the days where she continues to ride with someone who is willing to give her up so easily. In the same way Sullivan acknowledges her man and his behavior had been tragic, she acknowledges that allowing it to get this far in the first place, was as well.

2."I Like Dat" - T-Pain & Kehlani

When I first listened to this single, I must admit that I was a little disappointed to hear T-Pain singing in his signature auto-tuned tone. With revealing his true vocal prowess a couple of years ago, I had hoped that we would be welcomed into a new age of T-Pain music. Granted, we can't fault him, because it has worked in the past. Though, I am unsure what that will mean for his music in the future. In the "I Like Dat" single, T-Pain and Kehlani sing about a woman who is hard-working and manages to get what she needs without complaint. The song is good, catchy even, as it is reminiscent of his older 2000 hits. The nostalgic feel of the song will offer some sense of solace and the message behind the song will do just the same. "I Like Dat" will most likely not be the biggest hit of the summer, but it is a nice bop to add to your pre-game playlist, before hitting the club.

3."Home" - Jorja Smith

From the EP Be Right Back, comes Jorja Smith's fourth single, "Home." In "Home," Smith talks about one of the greatest struggles one can have in a relationship: being unfulfilled. Although, this relationship ends mournfully, it is not like the breakup songs that have been released earlier this summer. Instead, the song portrays a relationship being almost perfect, the only thing wrong is that neither party is getting what they truly want out of the relationship. Therefore, the relationship has run its course. If anything, the only thing creating pain for the couple, at this point, is their inability to let one another go. For fear of uncertainty, they hold onto one another despite knowing that the relationship has overstayed its welcome. Eventually, they go their separate ways, but not without appreciating the things that made them feel at home.

4."I Want" - ENNY

She wants lets stress and she wants more money. Releasing her newest single, "I Want" from the upcoming album, Under Twenty Five, ENNY knows exactly what she wants and how she wants it. Meanwhile, the person she is talking to…not so much. Which is fine, because according to ENNY, she has paved the way for them to figure it out in their own time, at their own pace. After all, the hardest decision to make is deciding to make a decision at all. With this newest single, ENNY vibes on with a 90s flow as she talks about the struggles of being in her 20s and having multiple identities and expectations to live up to.

5."Lipstick" - WILLOW

With every single, WILLOW reaffirms my belief that Black women belong in the alternative/indie rock genre. If not all Black women, then this Black woman, especially. Willow Smith returns with her second single of the summer, "Lipstick," for her upcoming debut rock album, Lately I Feel Everything. Reminiscent of the early 2000's pop-punk/alternative rock, "Lipstick" is a guitar-fueled track about the burdens of keeping everything inside and suffering as a result. Though, she refuses to suffer any longer under the fear of scrutiny.

In a recent interview, WILLOW claims, "I realized that it's not my movie that can't sing this kind of music. I was afraid to sing this kind of music because I wasn't sure what people would think." Now, no longer afraid of the opinions of others, WILLOW shows that 11 years later after her debut single "Whip My Hair," rock is where she has always belonged.

6."Corso" - Tyler, the Creator

Over the last few years, it has been truly a gift to watch the growth of Tyler, the Creator's artistry. From his more aggressive and misunderstood behaviors in Goblin and Wolf, to his more turned down, self-reflection in Flower Boy and Igor, Tyler, the Creator has returned with yet another album (Call Me If You Get Lost) and single, "Corso." In "Corso," Tyler brags about his success. Despite the expectations of others, he manages to live in a mansion and desires to surpass the milestone of being a millionaire, in hopes of becoming a billionaire. Yet, at this moment, he is unhappy and chooses to spend the millions he does have to "fill voids up."

7."Don't Blame It On Love" - Yuna ft. Pink Sweats

In the newest single, "Don't Blame It On Love," Yuna challenges her partner to take what many are afraid to: accountability. After giving her all in her relationship, she wonders why she is left to drown while her lover remains above water. Instead of blaming their relationship on love, or saying their relationship is a consequence of love, Yuna tells him to take responsibility for the demise of their relationship. Pink Sweats naturally agrees with this assessment. Seeming to address a relationship of his own, Pink Sweats talks about how his partner seems to come short despite the endless chances given, as well. The constant gaslighting, unreliability, and lack of responsibility has left them feeling insecure, which has resulted in their withdrawal from the relationship. They wise enough to know that if love feels like this, then it isn't love at all.

8."Headshots" - Isaiah Rashad

When asked about his latest single "Headshots" Isaiah Rashad states that the song can be taken two ways. Either you can interpret the song being about someone dying that you cared about, or dying yourself. Nevertheless, his newest single puts things in perspective about the state of the African-American community. He is tired of the violence, the alcohol consumption, and the glorifying of the two. Though, this does not mean that he is not about having a good time, he just believes that in doing so, you have to be conscious of what you're willing to sacrifice. He has experience a lot within his life and this song shows that from those experiences he has only become wiser. Though, the song could also be interpreted as a means to heal, with him stating that "the last couple of years I have been feeling dead," and now he has the chance to feel alive, again. All the while living the life he has always wanted and aspired to.

9."Hourglass" - Mary J. Blige

From Amazon's Original Documentary, Mary J. Blige's My Life, comes her newest single "Hourglass." A hourglass is used to often symbolize how fleeting human existence can truly be. The sand that trickles down into the lower glass, represents the time that has been used and when it resides, it represents the memories that are left. The same can be said for Mary J. Blige's newest single. In the song, she reflects on the time spent in her life and in the lives of others. She questions whether they are satisfied with the time that has already been spent and what they will choose to do with the time that they have left.

Like most of Mary J. Blige's songs, she talks about the things that have made her the woman she is today. Though, she refuses to allow those moment, whether happy or sad, to dictate her future. If today was her last day, she doesn't want to spend it dwelling on what she has or hasn't done, instead, she is going to take the present for what it is, and worry about the hourglass when her time is up.

10."Foolish Heart" - Alicia Keys

To celebrate the Songs in Minor 20th anniversary, Alicia Keys has released her newest, yet oldest, single "Foolish Heart." Noted as the first song Keys has ever recorded, "Foolish Heart," debuts for the first time, twenty years later. As a lovely piano ballad, Keys talks about loving someone who doesn't feel the same. Whether this person is incapable of feeling the same way or just fell out of love down the road, she knows about what happens when you're the only one investing in your relationship. Despite the song being written two decades ago, the message it provides still rings true; especially in the age of situationships over relationships.

Following your heart has always been advised, but when your head is saying that your heart shouldn't be trusted, Alicia Keys wants you to know that it is OK if you leave your foolish heart behind. After all, drowning out what you know is right for what you hope is right, will only lead to pain.

Need some more music recommendations? Here are other songs out this week:

11."Why Don't You Touch Me: Part 2" - Leon Bridges

12."Vaccine" - Logic

13."Hit Bout It" (Remix) - Lil Eazzyy

14."Dancing With My Daddy" - Mila J ft. OG Dr Chill

15."Red Light Green Light" - DaBaby

16."Having Our Way" - Migos ft. Drake

17."Drugs N Hella Melodies" - Don Toliver ft. Kali Uchis

18."Working" - Khalid & Tate McRae

19."Holiday" - KSI

20."Wasting Time" - Brent Faiyaz ft. Drake

21."I'm Not Okay, But I Know I'm Going To Be" - Raleigh Ritchie

22."I Believed It" - dvsn & Ty Dolla $ign, Mac Miller

23."You Right" - Doja Cat, The Weeknd

24."You For Me" - Sigala & Rita Ora

25."Slutty" - Desiigner

26."Truffles" - Mike Jenkins

27."Betty Bussit" - Big Freedia ft. Soaky Siren & Tank and The Bangas

28."Patience" - Wesley Jospeh ft. Jorja Smith

29."Higher" - Tems

30."Lose My Mind" - Anthony Ramos

Featured image via Giphy

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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