What Spencer Knight Is Listening To:
The women of RnB, Rap, and Soca have kept me afloat for most of this pandemic. I have spent the year curating countless Spotify playlists of cross-genre singles, vibes, bops, and more from artists like Patrice Roberts, CHIKA, Nessa Preppy, H.E.R, Nao, Nadia Batson, Jorja Smith, and beyond to carry me through virtually any emotional state imaginable. However, the most recent body of work that’s accompanied me through most of my writing experiences has been Jazmine Sullivan’s latest project: Heaux Tales.
For me, RnB is the musical embodiment of emotion, and as someone who has had to slowly reacquaint himself with his body and his feelings, I’ve always been drawn to the genre. Heaux Tales is all about reclaiming your body, sexuality, pleasure, and power by unapologetically enjoying sex. She explores past and present relationships and examines the future of intimacy for her — what it might look like, how it might make her feel, and so on.
As a listener, the music resonated with me specifically as I wrote my essay “Snuff” because both pieces explore reclamation, intimacy, relationships, and the nuances of both erotic and romantic love. I also particularly love how the music is celebratory. She sings about bodily pleasure with reverence — a sound undoubtedly harnessed and honed by her gospel roots — indignant of the shame women are expected to feel and the secrecy they're expected to practice while piling up a body count.
Of course, the added benefit is the music is pure fire. Jazmine’s incomparable vocal range is absolutely ridiculous, and her riffs and runs wash over the accompaniment of each track like a stream over polished pebbles. If RnB isn’t for you (first of all, you’re wrong), at the very least, you can appreciate her craft and artistry. I’d also highly recommend watching her Tiny Desk performance, which aired shortly after she released Heaux Tales. It’s one of the few instances where I feel the live performance might outdo the original recording — the mark of a true artist and professional.
Spencer Knight is a queer writer living in Edmonton, Alberta. His flash and not-so-flash nonfiction stories have appeared in Saltern Magazine, filling Station, and The Bolo Tie Collective Anthology: Volume I. His essay "Snuff" will be featured in the soon to be published Autumn issue of The Fiddlehead. Pre-order your copy of the Autumn issue today!