Track Review: Jazmine Sullivan, “Tragic”

Even though Heaux Tales remains in constant rotation, Jazmine Sullivan has gifted us with a new single that’s just as terrific. A natural continuation to the stories and themes explored on her genius Heaux Tales project, “Tragic” finds Jazmine slyly berating delusional men for their weak and unimpressive bedroom skills. Clearly, this track isn’t about the same men that inspired the lustful ardor of songs like “Put It Down” and “On It.”

On Heaux Tales, almost every track was preceded by a different woman’s “tale.” Ranging from reflections on sex and money to anecdotes about relationship turmoil, the tales foreshadowed the general subject matter of the subsequent song. With the help of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Jazmine continues this motif on “Tragic.” Jazmine flips Ms. Waters’ classic “reclaiming my time” sound bite into a manifesto against men who, to put it plainly, can’t put it down. The days of feigning enjoyment are over. Over sultry bass and thumping drums, Jazmine employs a familiar cadence — one that has rap tendencies mixed with ever-so-slightly slurred words. She opens the first verse with “Why do you be looking for me to do all the work?” and ends it with “And now I’m done pretending that you getting me off.” Although the metaphor of a car dealership anchors the middle of that verse, Jazmine’s direct approach to songwriting underscores the urgency and honesty of her feelings here.

Her voice is as immaculate as ever, particularly when she reaches the hook. She pushes through the word “tragic” with a tone that strikes a balance between sincerity and smugness. After so many years of men giving subpar sex and blaming women for their own shortcomings, Jazmine’s vocal performance is highlighting a small pocket of joy in exposing what’s really going on. “Tragic” is strategically paced so that by the bridge, Jazmine is at her most direct and impassioned. The drums periodically drop out and striking piano builds towards a vocal climax that smartly arrives at the lyric “coulda stayed my ass at home.” The best, and most important, part of tragic are the background vocalization. Jazmine decorates the track with moans that aren’t derived from pleasure, but instead from a place of exasperation which deepens the overall character of the vocal arrangement. If “Tragic” is a clue as to what’s in store from Jazmine for the rest of 2021, we’re sure to be in for a treat.

Score: 78

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