A few weeks ago I woke up, breathed deeply, prayed, set my intentions for the day, and made my usual social media rounds. I scrolled through Facebook, Instagram, and then Twitter. I glanced at what was trending on Twitter and my heart dropped into my stomach when I read “Jill Scott”. My mind raced. I knew she didn’t have an album drop. I’m a huge fan so I follow her closely. Oh Lawd! Please don’t tell me something horrible had happened to her! I was fully prepared to drop down to my knees and sob like Aunt Song in Crooklyn when her beloved Queenie popped out the couch.
I took a deep breath and investigated further. I click on the video and what do I see? Jilly from Philly showcasing a brilliant air fellatio moment from one of her legendary performances. Something I’ve seen her do before on a few occasions. My heart slows and I suck my teeth in disgust like an an old African woman. YALL NEGROES GOT MY PRESSURE UP FA DIS? TUH!!
Twitter was going CRAZY! Some in shock, some amused and bemused, some aroused, but most in utter disbelief. Was I interpreting this right? Twitter, the heathens of all social media (who I absolutely adore btw), were in disbelief. Huh? I’ve seen them share much worse and it didn’t get that response. Why be so shocked and appalled now? Then I realized, they may not be as familiar with Jill’s repertoire. If your only context for Jill Scott is “He Loves Me” and “Golden” then I guess I understand how shocking that could be to see. Clearly this moment demanded a post. So I made one.
This post prompted some dope comments mostly in support of my support of the vivacious performance with a few dissenters in the mix. Then a sista posted on my page a song from 1935 called “Shave ‘Em Dry”, by Lucille Bogan:
I guarantee this was the song Shug Avery sung that made her father ban her from the church! I was then reminded of the OG status 1929 club banger, “It’s Tight Like That”, by Clara Smith:
These tunes, and others like them, made me realize that 1) black women ain’t new to this, we’re true to this 2) respectability politics is no damn fun and has never served us well, and 3) raunch, sexual innuendo, and overt sexual explicitness is a bonafide performance tradition. There is historical precedence and a rich legacy that precedes Jill’s passionate moment in her performance.
Jill called into The Joe Budden Podcast to respond to the now viral video. I appreciated her oh so sugary sweet response that can be summed up in her sentence, “I’m not a one dimensional woman”.
I got the chance to explore this Jill Scott affair with my brotha Taiye, aka the Wild Afrikan, in Atlanta at his boxing gym, Sweat Shop Boxing & Fitness.If you wanna hear our full discussion along with other insightful shenanigans from episode 15 of TiTi Talks, watch the video. I promise it will be the most edutaining hour of your day:
We got the first hints of this side of Jill in 2000 on her inaugural Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol.1 with “Exclusively” , “Honey Molasses”, and “Love Rain”. I remember vividly the first time I heard Jill say, “love slipped from my lips, dripped down my chin, and landed in his lap and us became….new”. I don’t think I responded in the same way as Twitter though. I also had no context for Jill. Literally the day before my homegirl Chanel had the tape (yes the tape y’all) and asked me if I ever heard of Jill Scott. I responded, “who is Jill Scott?”, then Chanel handed over the tape and the album title mirrored my response. I was instantly intrigued. Fast forward almost 2 decades and Jilly has given us “Cross My Mind”, Whatever”, “Crown Royal” and many other salacious, as my homegirl Maisha would say, “aural delights”. I am here for it all.
I wrote this post as an homage to the ones who have made us clutch our pearls throughout the ages. Thank you to all of the Black women from this tradition who showcase and unapologetically express a small glimpse into the depth and breadth of black womanhood. Ms. Laura, Luenell, Donna Summer, Bessie Smith, La Wanda Page, Tina Turner, Ruth Brown, Millie Jackson, Janet Jackson and so many more. Thank you for brazenly showing the world that you will not fit neatly into the suffocating boxes that mainstream society tries to cram you in. I’m here for the filth, the raunch, the wit, and the sass. And please know that it is not mutually exclusive from grace, poise, elegance, intelligence, holiness, and wholesomeness. Let us rebuke any and all things that uphold one-dimensional womanhood. We too fly fuh dat!
Here are a few extra spicy aural delights for your listening enjoyment:
Slow Tongue by Millie Jackson-
Suck It Dry by La Wanda Page-