I lose time listening to R&B and Neo Soul music. I’m being specific because no other category of music does this to me. I’ve lost bits of time to Kendrick Lamar, The Internet, Donald Fagen, and a good video game soundtrack, but it’s not the same.
I’ve graduated to the point where words hold more of my interest than beats. Great production still helps, which is what drew me to Odd Future. But the artists I feel are great are the ones whose words captivate me.
It took me years to realize I was terrible with relationships, women, and had no understanding of their general needs. I have no brothers to learn from, my father was just as introverted (if not more) as me, and my friends aren’t any better in this domain. So a lot of what I have learned is through music.
R&B is filled with stories regarding the beauty, complexity, bliss and frustration of relationships. But in those stories are the lessons learned by those singing them. I was told the generations before us share their mistakes so that we don’t have to repeat them.
This post being about Jill Scott indicates how I feel about her as an artist. Her lyrics read like poetry. Men aren’t supposed (or at least expected) to love R&B this much, but if you want an idea of what women want from men, Scott is a good source.
I’ve listened to all five of her studio albums, and have listened to her first three albums more times than even God can count (and God can do everything). I could’ve written at least 3000 words without effort, and that isn’t an exaggeration. But for the sake of not typing my fingers down to the bone, I’ve narrowed down seven songs you (as in, men) should pay close attention to.
1 Song: Show Me
Lyric: “You’re constantly talking about how much you love me, want me, need me. You told me. Stop talking.”
My grandmother would say “you can show somebody better than you can tell them.” She would apply this to simple things, like showing a state office year’s worth of documents. But the point she was making was this: actions speak louder than words.
Your words are nice, but don’t pretend you are the only man capable of saying them. The physical act of telling a woman you want and need her is easy. But showing her these things is something entirely different and can only be done when those words actually hold true.
We’re so accustomed to hearing words in numerous facets of our living that we are programmed to tune them out. But when was the last time someone did something that evoked feeling? The things people do capture our attention far more than the sounds exiting their lips.
Instead of finding just the right words to express how much someone means to you, exert your energy and effort toward showing them through action. Cards can handle the former. Strive to do more than printed words from Hallmark.
2 Song: Talk To Me
Lyric: “You’re right next to me. But sometimes I feel like you’re off away, and you just don’t have a thing to say.”
I’m notorious for not staying in touch with friends and family. While I’m always one to talk to them for a long period of time in the moments we are on the phone, it’s not the same as them actually receiving a call from me. There is a difference between talking because you’re being talked to, and talking because someone means enough to you that you want to share something with them.
This lyric isn’t about phone conversation. That actually comes later. This is about using communication in a way that your partner always feels connected to you.
One of the worse things an ex told me was that she felt lonely despite having me as a boyfriend. I was too messed up in the head, far more than I am these days, for her words to really register. But think about how damning that is: she has me by her side, and yet feels as if I’m not really there at all.
And she was right, I wasn’t there. I was so wrapped up in my world, my insistence on not talking to her about it only served to create distance. And when she, being a good girlfriend, wanted to open up an opportunity for me to talk, I would get irritated as opposed to accepting a moment of selflessness: someone actually listening to me. So she she did she felt was best.
3 Song: Whenever You’re Around
Lyric: “I don’t wanna lose this good life, but I ain’t scared. If I’m going to be the only one participating in this.”
Spoiler alert: she moved on. I know I just cut through a lot of chapters from that story. But if she was going to be the only active participant in our relationship, she might as well do things on her own because there is really no difference.
Don’t assume you’re going to get second, third, or fourth chances, or that she is going to wait for you to get your act together. If she is going to be made to feel alone, it’s only a matter of time before she decides the relationship is no longer worth the trouble. While leaving for the unknown may be daunting, the unknown is better than something she knows isn’t going anywhere.
That’s why Chip Kelly had to move on from Blaine Gabbert. Sure, the relationship with Colin Kaepernick is a total wildcard, but Kelly has (correctly) determined that the relationship with Gabbert wasn’t going anywhere. Sticking with Gabbert might have been safe, but Kelly wasn’t afraid of moving on from a relationship where he was putting a lot of coaching into Gabbert only to get few results in live games.
Three songs in, and I have already lost my way with this.
4 Song: My Petition
Lyric: “How do I trust you, how do I love you, when you lie to me repeatedly?”
That’s heavy. Before turning Meninity into my personal writing portfolio, it was a blog focused on the realities of male culture, no matter how scary, hurtful, or uncomfortable those realities may be. The tagline was this: men can’t always be perfect, but we can always be honest.
It hit me after my lack of honesty both internally and externally resulted in the nasty split of a partnership. (Note: Partnership shouldn’t be confused with relationship, but rather shows that I don’t know a better word to describe a connection with someone I wouldn’t call a friend.) I realized the only true path to follow in life is one of honesty, because no matter how brutal it may be, honesty will steer you in the right direction.
We tend to forget the role trust plays in our friendships, so we tend to forget how important trust is with our partners. When your partner can’t believe a single world coming out of your mouth because you continually show her something opposite of what you tell her, there is no way she can trust you. Life isn’t always easy to stomach but is easy to navigate when you only speak the truth.
5 Song: Love Rain (Original)
Lyrics: “If you didn’t want me, ah, you should have let me know. All you did was make a mockery of something so incredible and beautiful.”
6 Song: Cruisin’
Lyrics: “You say you wanna love me cause that’s what I need, but I ain’t sure if that’s what you’re here for.”
And this is what I meant. In this scenario, honestly would’ve killed a relationship before it got started, no denying that. But it would’ve been better to never get things started than to hurt someone deeply in the end.
I put the two songs together because they both send the same message: don’t toy with the beauty of a true relationship for an ulterior motive. And yes, the ‘ulterior motive’ is sex. Don’t use a relationship as a gateway to sex if that’s the only thing you are invested in.
“Love Rain” is the narrator giving her body to a man she is in love with, only to realize she had been fooled and that he was merely using her for his own physical satisfaction. “Cruisin’” can almost be looked at as a sequel where the narrator’s warranted lack of trust in men makes it where she cannot trust someone’s words because she believes he’s really in the relationship for something else.
Scott’s songs are connected through this gigantic web that tells one larger story and paints a bigger composition, but the way these two songs are so closely intertwined is almost terrifying (in a beautiful yet tragic way). You’re hearing both the origin and subsequent narrative of mistrust. And it all begins because someone couldn’t be upfront about their intentions.
The lesson isn’t that men shouldn’t be on the hunt for sex and should only want relationships. If the only thing you are in search of is that glove, then have at it. But don’t resort to being dishonest in order to get it because all you’re really doing is severely hurting someone else, someone who didn’t ask for this.
This isn’t like grabbing a phone number for a confidence boost (granted, which is also toying with someone, but not to the extent I’m talking about). This is actually sucking someone into your pit of deception, and then spitting them back out once you have managed to chew them up. That’s fucked up.
Be honest with yourself about what you want, be honest with her about what you’re looking for, and only pursue opportunities that follow along the road you want to travel.
7 Song: Honey Molasses
Lyric: “Were you thinking about me? And if you were, why was I feeling so lonely by the phone?”
The whole phone thing I was talking about earlier. Call your girlfriend. It’s such a simple thing, but it would really show her that she’s on your mind.
Because logically, we tend to call people when they are on our minds. So if you rarely call someone, it is safe to assume that person isn’t on your mind too often. Which is really bad to say considering you are in a relationship with the person in question.
Scott also has a song named “Cross My Mind.” It’s about this guy that Scott has on her mind (derp) on a deeper level. There’s no lesson to extract other than what Scott considers to be physical displays of masculinity, or that you should make each impression count. So, make sure your back is straight and never sloping, I guess?