A few years ago, psychologists studied the correlation between seasons and romantic relationships. They concluded that the colder the weather, the more likely a relationship had a chance to thrive, hence, "cuffing season." Nevertheless, the warmer the weather, the more likely a relationship is to fail, consequently creating the term, "uncuffing season." "Uncuffing season" is defined as a period, usually the spring and summer, when "people who were previously in relationships during the winter break-up to be free for the summer and warm months." The idea is that once the relationship has concluded, one is able to play the field and not be tied down by the pestering obligations of a relationship. And unfortunately, this seems to be the case for the artists this week.
No longer singing about the best parts, we've entered in the phase of summertime sadness; and boy, is this summer scheduled to be a doozy. Between Leon Bridges' constant questions in "Why Don't You Touch Me," Nao's refusal to return to "Messy Love," and Cynthia Erivo choosing to remember only "The Good" parts of her relationship, it seems like everyone is being "uncuffed" and sent to enjoy their summers alone. Though, there might be light at the end of this tunnel yet. Why? Well, because if they're sent to join their summer's alone, chances are you are, too.
If that's the case, you'll have a couple of new ballads, and upbeat songs, that can help you make it through your summer blues, before finding yet another in the fall and winter months.
1. "Why Don't You Touch Me: Part 1" - Leon Bridges
With his new album Gold—Diggers Sound coming out July 23, 2021, Leon Bridges has arrived with part one of two singles, "Why Don't You Touch Me: Part 1" (you can listen to "Part 2" here). Like all of his other singles, Bridges' music feels like it has been written and sung by someone beyond his years. In "Why Don't You Touch Me: Part 1," Bridges wonders the title amongst other things, particularly why his lover doesn't seem to love him anymore.
Despite "dressin' to the nines" and his desires to do whatever to improve the relationship, Bridges' lover is distracted by the glitter and gold and continues to fade away. It's sad that his lover doesn't seem to be in love with him anymore, but the saddest part might be the fact that his relationship is ending and he doesn't even know why.
2. "Mad" - Hope Tala
To avoid the "Heartbreak Olympics," I won't say that one heartbreak is worse than the other. Although, when it comes to heartbreak, nothing quite matches the sting that comes from unrequited love. In Hope Tala's newest single "Mad," the 23-year-old London artist sings about having a lover fall out of love, while she is still head over heels. The song plays with an enticing allure, combining an acoustic guitar with a groove reminiscent of Bossa nova and a slowed samba, instead of a piano ballad.
As if her rage is simmering, Tala doesn't raise her voice, but allows her repetition of her wanting to tear her hair out to show her frustrations and sadness to her lover's sudden change in mind. At the end of the song, she is left with more questions than answers, which seems to be the new way of breaking up (a la the previously mentioned "Why Don't You Touch Me"). With her lover not answering her calls, it's hard to say if she'll get the closure she needs to extinguish her inevitable explosion.
3. "Messy Love" - Nao
After the early (leaked) release of her newest single, Nao has officially released "Messy Love" from her upcoming third album. Like her single "Make It Out Alive," in "Messy Love," Nao tells of a love that was once cherished turning into a burden. In a trope that I am glad to see artists taking, Nao decides to place self-love, self-respect, and inner peace over the struggles and insecurities created by an unstable and exhaustive relationship.
Old Nao might've had the energy to chase her lover, she might've had the energy to roll around and enjoy the mess of it all. Nevertheless, after one too many heartbreaks, Nao has reached a place in her life where she refuses to return back to "messy love."
She wants her love to know that she cares about him, but in the end, she will choose herself and her progress over everything, including this relationship.
4. "Wusyaname" - Tyler, the Creator ft. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla Sign
Only Tyler, the Creator would walk up to a complete stranger and use "Aw, you look malnourished" as a pick-up line. Strangely for Tyler, the Creator, this seems well within his playbook and still might have the potential to work. In his recently released single "Wusyaname," Tyler, the Creator falls in love with a woman at first sight. Pursuing the woman, he hopes to get her attention by hurling insulting compliments one after the other. Creator's advancements are so contradictory that it wouldn't be surprising if this woman had experienced whiplash.
Although, after saying, "That's when I met 'She'"—a reference to his Goblin album and "She" track—it is clear to the audience that this woman probably deserves it. As if jumping into a time machine, the audience is given the moment that eventually leads to the chaotic moment that unravels in his and Frank Ocean's "She." In addition to this magic track, Tyler, the Creator's "Lumberjack" and "Brown Sugar Salmon" singles are out, too.
5. "2 You" - Mariah the Scientist
Something is in the water, and apparently it's forcing everyone to confront or end their relationships. Regardless of what it is, "2 You" is the newest single from Mariah the Scientist's upcoming project, Ry Ry World. In the song, the Atlanta-based artist reflects on a failed relationship. Pointing out her ex's flaws, Mariah addresses feeling disappointing in the direction of their relationship and embarrassment from allowing it to go on for so long. Unlike the singles mentioned before, Mariah the Scientist doesn't wonder why the relationship has ended or how they got there. Instead, she wonders why she doesn't feel at peace with this decision, despite knowing that it was for the best.
6. "BYE" - Jaden
Most artists have something that makes them uniquely and utterly them. For instance, SZA has her word play. J. Cole has his storytelling. Kendrick Lamar has his poetic prose and Jaden has his…well, everything? When I say this, I don't mean it negatively, I mean that Jaden is never the same person when a single is released. This is even shown in his name change from Jaden Smith, to just Jaden. For most artists, the constant change between genres, flow, writing, and artistry wouldn't work. It would make the listener feel like they are following too many artists at once. But for Jaden, it seems to be the main thing keeping his artistry afloat.
In his newest single, "BYE" Jaden ventures to the beach in hopes of repairing his broken relationship. Despite its melancholy theme, the song comes off as a light summer pop/hip-hop track, which juxtaposes the song released from the previous album. Although the songs from Syre are hip-hop tracks, "BYE" leans more into the pop genre with its layered harmonies and almost synthetic voice.
7. "t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l" - WILLOW ft. Travis Barker
There is a special kind of wonderful when a Black woman is in the alternative/indie genre. There is an even more special kind of wonderful when she seems like she'll dominate the genre, if given the chance. Returning with Blink 182 drummer, Travis Baker, Willow Smith has released a new hit, "Transparent Soul." The single is mixture of the early 2000s alternative/rock and 80s grunge, with a new 2021 spin. Her voice is powerful and dominating as she sings about being able to see through all of the lies of her subject. Whether she is talking to a lover, former friend, or just an over confident stranger, Willow puts her subject in their place as she tries to navigate between friends and foe.
8. "Pasadena" - Tinashe ft. Buddy
I just can't stop smiling when I hear this song. This is a bop, a groove, a shimmy, and a shake.. Ahead of her fifth album, Tinashe returns with her exhilarating new single "Pasadena." This upbeat track focuses on the pride and joy one obtains when they live freely and embrace the moment. With a fun video filled with group dancing, penthouses, and a beautiful skyline, "Pasadena" has the potential to be a song you need on repeat this summer.
9. "Bed Friend" - Jacquees ft. Queen Naija
With his newest single from his new album P.T.O.F, Jacquees and Queen Naija team up to tell the story of friends who've become lovers. Unlike the typical "friends with benefits" set up, Jacquees talks about falling in love with his best friend while still being in a relationship with another. He knows that his desire for his friend over his girlfriend is wrong, but he can't seem to stop making comparisons and he can't seem to want to invest in his relationship because of this. He is aware that he and his best friend are moving past the boundaries of their friendship, though, despite this knowledge he leans fully in, hoping that the relationship "doesn't end in a dead in." After all, if this doesn't work out, Jacquees is aware that he has more to lose than just "Bed Friend."
10. "The Good" - Cynthia Erivo
The last five years have been kind to Cynthia Erivo. Between her discovery in London, her Tony, Grammy, and Emmy awards, her roles in blockbuster movies (Harriet, Bad Times at the El Royale, and Widows), and the Aretha Franklin mini series, she has shown that hard work truly pays off. Now, she is tackling another milestone, this one in the form of her upcoming debut album. From Ch. 1 vs. 1, Erivo has released her newest single "The Good." The song tells a story about a failed relationship, but instead of mourning its absence, she choose to remember the good times. Despite the somber lyrics, the song is upbeat and almost playful while she sings soulfully and powerfully. Released during Pride Month, Erivo's video has her in a tumultuous same-sex relationship, which is rarely seen between two Black women, unless you're counting the recent season of Masters of None.
Keep scrolling for more singles released in the week of June 18 to June 25!
"Feeling Good" - Chloe Bailey
"Talk About It" - Jungle
"Letter to My Daughter" - NLE Chopper
"Live from the Country" - Logic
"Wish List" - Joey Trap
"Muddy Flow" - Kill Jasper
"Genesis" - Azizi Gibson ft. AKTHESAVIOR
"You the Type" - CJ Fly
DaBaby - "Ball If I Want To"
"LAW OF AVERAGES" - Vince Staples
"Angles" - Wale ft. Chris Brown
"When You Love Someone" - Tone Stith ft. H.E.R.
"Formwela 5" - Esperanza Spalding ft. Corey King
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Taysha Robinson is a writer and high school English teacher, based in metro-Atlanta. A self described philomath, you can find her reading books and articles of every genre, attending educational conferences, and hiking wherever the terrain will allow.
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Paradise + Vibe Founders Talk The Power Of Black Women Tapping Into Enjoyment And Play
It's so interesting how many essential aspects of our self-care, wellness, and personal development as adults are linked to our childhood. And as much as I sometimes hate the whole cliche of tapping into an inner child (a concept of which I've struggled with because, after a few years of therapy, I've wished that metaphoric version of me would actually grow up and stop constantly instigating battles with old triggers), there are so many positives to embracing the positive aspects of child-like wonder, creativity, and fun as a very grown-ass woman.
That's where play comes in, especially in reference to the importance of enjoying life. Research has shown that adults who explore their favorite activities or hobbies from childhood and deliberately seek activities of joy can increase feelings of happiness, support, comfort, and creativity. And it's no secret that those feelings are the key to success behind many of the successful, fly Black women in business we all admire or want to emulate.
Two enterprising acquaintances-turned-friendpreneurs know just how empowering the pursuit of enjoyment can be, and they've seen the benefits —in their careers, friendships, and within the community of Black women they've built via their platform Paradise + Vibe.
Founders Iana Edwards, CEO, and Kasondra McConnell, CFO, launched the platform in 2020, offering retreats, pop-up events, and other ways for women to connect, relax, release, and, of course, have fun. Friends since 2014, they'd been on the pulse of the intersection between wellness and play in their own respective lives before teaming up for Paradise + Vibe.
"In 2019, Iana became a yoga instructor, and her career just took off in the yoga space to the point where hotels were asking her to teach," Kasondra said. "Later, we went to Jamaica for her birthday, and the last day we were there, we were just in the ocean, talking, and I said, ‘I really think you could do something where you bring people together—because you’re the attraction for the yoga—so why not use your own platform to better yourself?' From there, we came up with a name and launched with the intention to provide a space for wellness for people of color to feel safe and connected and in tune with all of the things that make you feel well and whole."
"With our retreats, we are bringing people together where they can connect in a place where they can play, be present, and get back to what they need at their core—just to feel good."
Even outside of the retreats and other events they host, Iana and Kasondra make sure they infuse play into their everyday lives, and reiterate that the activities don't have to be super-strenuous or structured. Many of the things they love to do for enjoyment in adulthood tie directly into fond memories of their childhood. Kassondra loved watching Legends of the Hidden Temple, a '90s action-adventure game show and used to create backyard obstacle courses in the backyard with her family. Today, she still loves being out in nature, enjoying the mental clarity of walking or hiking. "I oftentimes have to use my brain a lot, but with hiking, you don't. You're just putting one foot in front of the other. I live near a trail, and so I'll go walk there. And anytime I'm engulfed in water, I love it," she said.
One of Iana's favorite childhood memories of fun is going with her schoolmates to a dinosaur exhibit at Fernbank Museum in Atlanta. "We had peanut butter sandwiches, and I was just enamored with the surroundings, getting out of the classroom setting and being with my classmates. It was then that I realized joy is simple, and it's sometimes just a choice."
Iana and Kasondra pride themselves on embodying a different take on wellness, especially for Black women. "We bonded over that before I went to yoga training, and we just saw, inadvertently, a need for something that wasn't there," Iana said. "We have always been very rogue when it comes to wellness. We've given pushback on the whole [idea that] you have to eat a certain way, you have to be a vegan, you have to eat raw foods, [or] you can't eat this, you can't eat that— this trope of, to be a yogi, you have to look and identify as a certain type."
"We love to dance. We love to go out. We love to listen to ratchet music. We do yoga. We do move our bodies. But we're also people, human, and women, and we are a little bit of everything. We approached it like, 'You know what? We're going to take a true holistic approach to wellness and encompass it all and not leave out the turn-up aspect.'"
Iana, who has been practicing yoga for almost a decade (and has been trained by the best to teach it), and Kasondra, a serial entrepreneur who has worked in real estate, retail, and events, merged their talents, skills, and experiences in order to provide something to the market they felt was missing.
Courtesy of Paradise + Vibe
Both agree that wellness is all about intention and energy, not just what you put into your body. And when Black women are able to truly enjoy the things that lead to laughter, comradery, amusement, and pleasure, innovative, life-changing, and culture-shifting things happen. "One day, Kasondra said, 'Friend, wellness is about connection. It's not about whether we're eating a salad. It's so much deeper than that,'" Iana recalled.
"When you think about [when we were] children, in our most pure form as humans, we were a little more connected then," Kasondra added. "When you were playing, you were outside, taking in Vitamin D from the sun, energy from the Earth. You were connecting with other people. Play takes you out of being so heady and into the present moment. You're not so worried and anxious about what you have going on and more so connected to being present."
With Paradise + Vibe retreats, women are supported in participating in group activities and yoga, with the backdrop of paradise in global locales—including South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, and Indonesia—that truly facilitate freedom, leisure, and bliss. "There's proof that, if you look at what depression is, it's essentially being stuck in the past, and anxiety is being occupied with the future and what's to come," Kasondra said.
"So if you can do things like Bikram yoga, which Iana teaches, it's so hot and so intense but so rewarding. It gets you into the present moment. [With] play [it's] the exact same thing, so we took these ideas, and we injected it into our retreats. We select activities that allow people to do things that will take them out of their comfort zones, especially for our audience, which is predominantly Black women. We're talking about in Costa Rica, where we're white-water rafting. In Jamaica, we hiked Mayfield Falls. There's parts of the water where you have to swim, and [that took] people out of their head and got them into the present moment."
Changing the narrative on wellness, enjoyment, and self-care for Black women is vital, especially when choosing a holistic approach that's both considerate of one's personal experience and passions and pushes them to break boundaries. That's what connected Kasondra and Iana in the first place. "We love a hot spring, a body of water. Let’s get on an ATV. Let’s go to an elephant sanctuary—any kind of activity that breaks our adult avatar," Kasondra said. "When you are engaged in some sort of play, you’re the closest you’ve ever been to your childhood version of yourself."
For more on Kasondra, Iana, and Paradise + Vibe events, visit them on Instagram or their website.
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Featured image courtesy of Paradise + Vibe