[END OF YEAR] SEX,LOVE & PAIN: BEST R&B AND R&B REMIXES 2014
Truth is, I’m a romantic. Yeah, I said it. I grew up in a household full of love, the parental units have been married over 30 years and still find ways to go away on the weekends, surprise each other with gifts and often ignore my ranting due to a constant texting of each other like teenagers. I have always known love around me because of them and due to my understanding of how powerful real love is meant to be I simply settled on the idea that perhaps it just wasn’t for me. Sure, I had experienced attraction which grew into care and evolved into young love often ending in the shattering of a heart and a pool of tears that was never my own, my lack of attachment in many of my experiences led me to believe that perhaps my road was a different one than the one of my mother and her mother (who has been married over 50 years and still finds time to put on lipstick and dance with my crazy ass grandfather). It feels like only in one second, this whole theory of mine shifted… Rhythm & Blues, R&B… music for the soul…
This is a 2014 story, a story of Sex, Love & Pain told by the voices and lyrics of some of my favorite R&B artists.
This is my story.
Started from the bed, ended up the on the floor
I have an ego. I try not to flaunt it or be obnoxiously Kanye West about it but I have to admit it’s powerful and runs through my veins in everything that I do. As long as I know, this has always been part of my relationships; I’ve always been the one who can walk away, I’ve always been the one that someone is begging and asking to stay. This year started no different, I was sure that I had someone who wanted and needed me and even though I knew people considered me his trophy girl, I had his back. I wasn’t just playing the part, I loved him and we were going strong. There was no need to doubt, I treated my relationship like a career goal. I completed the entire check-list of things a woman should do down to the lingerie, heels in the kitchen, cooking like an Italian grandma and being as my good man Luda likes to say a freak in the bed.
19. TONI BRAXTON & BABYFACE // ROLLER COASTER
When love takes over, your emotions spin you round and round
No matter what we do though, relationships always seem to have their ups and downs. Usually mine had always been under my control and yet this time, something was wrong with me. I wasn’t the same confident woman I had been raised to be. I was starting to doubt my capacities as a partner and in turn failing in other areas of my life. I was either too busy or not doing enough and it was affecting who we were. We’d have those great days where everything seemed like the first 3 months of our relationship followed by a week of treating each other like acquaintances with scheduled encounters. Anyone that knows me, knows how much failure affects me. I’ve never handled it well. I’m a sore loser. And I felt like I was failing. The panic and anxiety started happening and for the life of me, I never linked it to my relationship… always feeling like it was impossible for someone to be causing such a disturbance in the way I handled myself.
18. DUKE DUMONT // I GOT U
Ask me what I did with my life, I spent it with you
And because failure was something I simply couldn’t accept. I stepped it up. I recommitted myself into doing the things on my checklist. I wanted to be that awesome trophy girlfriend everyone knew me to be. I wanted him to know that even though we were not in the greatest place, even though we had no concrete plans for the future, in that moment in time, I was his. And I had his back.
I love Duke Dumont’s sample of Whitney Houston’s As long as I got you, it brought back her beautiful voice in a way I could shake my ass and dance in my underwear around the house. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I was okay with losing my fame and fortune for this relationship, but let’s say I was at the very least, giving it my 50%.
17. LOUIS MATTRS // OOPS X WUS GOOD
Still so high. Hypnotized.In a trance.
Sometime in the middle of me attempting to become wonder woman and salvage a relationship that was about to crumble at my feet, my partner told me that one of the things I had been failing at was intimacy. I wasn’t the forward woman he had met and fell in love with. I wasn’t as available to him as I used to be. I was lacking creativity in the bedroom. I was not giving him what he needed as a man. As a woman who takes pride in her independent sexuality, being told that I was basically the women I criticize was a big fucking BLOW – no pun intended. This was such a hit to my ego; that instead of looking into the relationship and understanding that it wasn’t my lack of attention but our lack of connection that was wrong I started soul searching my lady parts. Somehow, I became the woman that needed to do something extra to be touched. I lost my confidence in my ability to stare at a man across the room and make them walk towards me and became the girl who sits at a table by herself in a bar. How the fuck did this happen? I didn’t know. But I needed to fix it… and I did.
16. ANTHONY HAMILTON// FREEK’N YOU
What must I say. What must I do. To show how much. I think about freek’n you.
Let’s take a quick break from my story to ‘gasm all over the place at Anthony Hamilton bringing Jodeci back with his deep manly soulful voice ringing in our ears. I two hand grabbed my own face last night when I discovered this cover and had to add it to my year’s top moments. Who doesn’t want Hamilton screaming that he thinks about freek’n you all fucking day? Seriously.
I came back into the fighting ring of my relationship with all my hormones in check. I was ready. I was in that steamy-over the counters-sex mentality. And you know what? It didn’t change a damn thing. Suddenly, after being advised to up my game, I was told that now I was on, too much of the time. I was actually asked, to turn it off a bit. Is that even a thing? Am I the first woman to be asked to turn it off a bit? This left me puzzled. The entire ideology that I had of pleasing my partner, of being available, of being confident and sexy… was broken. I was left once again confused. What exactly am I, the one that feels failure to the core, doing wrong?
15. BANKS // WAITING GAME
What if the way we started made it something cursed from the start
After this, not only was I questioning my own sexuality. But I was questioning my personal strength. When did I become a woman who could be tossed back and forth to fit someone else’s mold? I didn’t understand what I was waiting for or what exactly I was fighting for but I wasn’t ready to just give up. I had given years of my life to this relationship and I felt I owed it to myself to exhaust all options. We seemed to both be waiting for something and yet something, call it intuition, made me feel as though we were not really on the same page, we were not both loyal to the cause and suffering together to make it through this dark period but I was too proud, I could not see the alternative.
14. TONI BRAXTON & BABY FACE // HURT YOU
God knows I never meant to hurt you
It feels like crashing into a concrete wall that rebounds like a trampoline. You knew you were heading in that direction, you were aware that it was going to happen and yet you had not really processed it yet… and when it hits you, it throws you back into what you already knew, just to hit you again and see if maybe this time, you were ready. I wasn’t ready. No one can be ready to experience public embarrassment at the hands of a person they trust or loved. It is impossible to lift the blindfold of a relationship off that fast. I was simply being sidelined, I was being cheated on with a woman the world would categorize 70 levels under me. She was a kid. Someone who did not compete in the same dating pool as me, fuck that beauty is in the eye of the beholder shit. I was physically superior, professionally superior… how exactly, did I become seconds. I needed to understand. I didn’t argue, I didn’t say a damn thing. I was done waiting. I simply walked away… of course the apologies rained after that.
I was weak then and you knew it, I was so weak then and you proved it.
The explanations of how it wasn’t lack of sexual attraction but guilt that kept my partner from being with me. How I had to go through multiple mentality changes and approaches because someone wasn’t open with me about what was really wrong. Truth is, I wasn’t hurting because of the man that I was losing, the way he dealt with things meant he was never the man that I needed by my side, he could get to steppin’. But my ego took a hit, I spent days thinking about the person that replaced me. And maybe that was in essence my mistake, my mother told me once the only way a long lasting relationship works is if you are someone’s trophy, but they are also yours. Getting cheated on and having the impulse to walk away is the best thing that could have happened to me in retrospect but at the time, it’s no fun at all to know that while I was struggling to understand why I wasn’t sexual enough, the man that was supposed to be my partner was too guilty to touch me, but not too guilty to be touching someone else.
12. JAZMINE SULLIVAN // FOREVER DONT LAST
Chasin’ after a high that I’d never get back again
I gotta admit, I knew it was not a forever kind of deal. But Jazmine Sullivan does a beautiful job of showing how some relationships start with bliss and turn into three years of an unrecognizable waste of space. I accepted what happened, I stopped torturing myself thinking that I had somehow lost my mojo. Sometimes even when you do everything you are supposed to do, you can’t save a relationship that is meant to be a passing one from ending, some people are not meant to last forever like my girl here says. It’s better to make peace with that reality and walk away in one piece than wait until you crash and require a shovel to pick up what’s left of you.
11. AUGUST ALSINA FT. NICKI MINAJ // NO LOVE
I’m not the one you wanna love
Then I became that person. That person that stopped giving a fuck, I didn’t do it on purpose I think I just needed to cleanse myself from the “weak” woman I had become in the last months of my relationship. I suddenly had a roster of men I could choose from and just continue to have fun, no serious attachments, nothing that lasted longer than a few dates. I would enjoy someone’s company long enough to know they were still not remotely interesting enough for me to catch feelings and move on. I was focused on my career. I was traveling doing things with my life and the last thing I needed was someone feeling they had a say in what I was doing. I was done with that. Even though I was always upfront about where I was in my life and said “don’t come looking for love”, I still caused some heartbreak, I still caused people to feel as though I had used them and at the time, I really didn’t care. I felt my only responsibility was to be honest. We’re all grownups here.
10. FKA TWIGS // TWO WEEKS
Give me two weeks, you won’t recognize her
First of let me say that Two weeks is definitely in order of songs that drove me insane this year, probably number 1. I really wanted this countdown to be more about the order of experiences in my year and not so much about my appreciation of the songs independently. FKA Twigs hit me with this one at a time of my life where I felt I had everything together along with my new found re-ownership of female sexuality. If there is a song this year that symbolizes a Tarzan style chest punching of my inner Sex Goddess this one is it by a hundred miles. I needed this track in my life, to get reacquainted with myself, my body, my mind and fantasies. To go back to basics and really feel me and only me (quit your dirty thinking, I’m not talking about masturbation – at least not entirely) before opening my real world to another man. Months later and with many new experiences after its release hearing it again still gives me goose bumps and sweaty sex thoughts. I’ll repeat myself, we’re all grownups here.
9. TY DOLLA SIGN FT. THE WEEKND // OR NAH
Do you like the way I flick my tongue OR NAH?
As I was writing this piece, I had to repeat the beginning of this track three times to get myself back into work mode; The Weeknd’s voice is fucking distracting *tries to stop eyes from rolling back*. I find people who scream about this track being insulting to women hilarious. After exploring my single life and growing into my sexuality I have understood that we all have an inner whore. How we choose to use it and with whom we choose to share it is a different story. In the end all I say is EMBRACE THAT SHIT. Sometimes you just need to enjoy those moments of getting pulled by the hair and held against a kitchen counter, take charge of your mind and body connection, own it and take pleasure in allowing someone else to own it for you…. I mean… do you like the way I flick my tongue OR NAH?
8. GRYFFIN FT. WHITNEY HOUSTON // I LEARNED FROM THE BEST
I learned from the best. I learned from you.
After going through heartbreak – more like egobreak, soul searching, mistakes and changes; came the real acceptance. Understanding that where I was right now, is where I needed to be and that I was thankful for all the relationships good and bad that helped me become the woman that I am today, one that knows exactly what I like and don’t like, one that understands herself as an individual and how much of that is and isn’t unadaptable. One that is willing to stay humble and understanding but irrevocably strong in her resolve. I have learned from the best. Once again bringing back Whitney into my year, because my love of R&B is made complete with this woman’s voice and enjoying the way Gryffin turns it into a track I can dance and sing to shamelessly.
7. LABRINTH // JEALOUS ORIGINAL AND BAKERMAT REMIX
I’m jealous of the nights, that I don’t spend with you
We could say that at this point of my life and year, I had an amazing roster of men I could choose from. I was asked frequently to share and honestly, I would had they been willing because I simply had no connection. Not one that really mattered. I was soaring professionally, my home life was excellent, things were in a great place but as far as dating and romance went things were irrelevant. In a second things changed, in a second I experienced that feeling you read about in cheesy romance novels and usually disregard as ridiculous. I was slapped in the face, I was stopped and left breathless, wow. Look at him. I see him. He sees me. Suddenly my inability to spend every second of the day besides him became physically exhausting. I am jealous of the rain that falls upon his skin, it’s closer than my hands have been… I am jealous of the wind… Had anyone told me I’d feel those lyrics to heart before, I would have laughed at their face… and I’m sure as my friends read this they are probably running to the nearest bathroom to barf the pink hearts I’m throwing at them but I can’t deny it.. I’m jealous! And Labrinth is killing it on this one.
ALSO CHECK OUT THE BAKERMAT REMIX.
6. TANK // STRONGER
Brick by brick, your love is building me up
To have an impact in someone’s life, to fill a void that you didn’t even know was there, for someone to take place in your life in exactly the moment that you needed them, when you were almost detached from the world and to feel the way they effortlessly pull you back.. Regardless of the pain that I have been through this year, the fears that haunted me, the emotional and physical scars, look at me now, I am stronger. Where I am is no longer where I’ve been. I owe so much of where I am standing right now to him. To you, I know you’re reading, attentively as you are with everything else. I have become a person that never shows her shadows and fears and you have become the light that makes it all go away. I see us in these lyrics and I love the passion that Tank inputs into this entire album. Always one of my favorites in the genre, he continues to inspire a spectrum of emotions for me.
5. CHRIS BROWN FT. R.KELLY // DROWN IN IT
I wanna drown in it
All those hard learned lessons on sexuality have paid off. I feel strong and confident. I feel free and feminine. There is nothing better than being wanted. And there is nothing more exciting than wanting a person that wants you back. Chris Brown gets an honorable mention on this one, we all know that it was the King of dirty and sexy R&B R Kelly that put this track together. Only R Kelly would refer to my vajayjay as an ocean to drown in. Yes, I said vajayjay. Yes, I acted like he wrote it for me. Get over it. This song is meant to be played loudly, in a partially dark and cold room and I’m going to stop this paragraph now before it becomes literotica. Just blast that shit and sing loudly and preferably naked.
4. HEART STREETS FT. BOULE // NOT AROUND
So damn lonely when you’re not around
There is no bigger mood killer than the symptoms an ex goes through when they see you move forward. I think a lot of people deal with this… going through this year’s music was closure for me. Having to open a locked chest and think about the actual heartbreak I felt, not disregarding it as just what happens in life, to think about how it impacted the way I handled my life after that, I was hurt. It hurt. I gave someone the power to hurt me, and they did. I am no longer angry though, me accepting your apologies and but not your wishes to have me back, are no longer about pride. I have forgiven you, you were not around when I needed you but that is no longer important. We all make mistakes, truth is. I am happy. I have gone through hell and back and yet, I am happy. And even when times get tough and my days are full of darkness, my light shines beside me keeping me safe. You have probably figured out I wouldn’t take you back the tracks say, it must hurt. But it is not my intention to cause pain. Heart Street’s is not fucking around with this track, bringing back En Vogue’s Don’t Let Go and filling it with soul, it was a track that made me really evaluate what I went through this year.
3. MARSHA AMBROSIUS // SO GOOD
I can tell by looking at you, that thing is good, good, good good.
It’s time to close the chapter and just be open to all the excitement I’m feeling closing this year. To be loved this way is mentally and physically empowering. I don’t want to act like I need a man to complete me because anyone that knows me would call bullshit on that one. But he enhances me, all the qualities that I love about myself are highlighted in his presence… his love is just that fucking GOOD. This is a rainy day track, just take the day… whether you are with someone or enjoying some solo time 😉 and let yourself be taken on the Marsha Ambrosius ride.
2. SAM SMITH // HOW WILL I KNOW
How will I know if you really love me, I say a prayer with every heart beat
This list couldn’t end without mentioning Sam Smith’s beautiful voice and this soulful arrangement of Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know. I won’t even apologize for mentioning her three times throughout my year even though I am pretty sure my editor isn’t her biggest fan, I love you man but me and Whitney are a package kind of deal.
“This love is strong; why do I feel weak?” I didn’t want to fall in love. No more falling. I am just in love. It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t wanted or expected. It just happened, it appeared in front of me and there was no thinking about it. I wasn’t evaluating my options, I didn’t think about a roster of possibilities, I didn’t feel I needed to justify or explain myself. I simply was. And yet, there is such a vulnerability to admitting that to yourself, to your partner, to the world that it makes me feel weak at times. Like I am no longer in control of it all and I’m not. And I am beginning to trust, that sometimes that is okay.
1. BEYONCE FT. DRAKE // MINE
Fuck what you heard you’re mine, you’re mine.
Fuck what society says. Fuck what people say. Fuck what your friends say. Fuck what the person I used to be used to say… And let’s get carried away. If this year has taught me anything is that we need to stop making a big deal out of the little things. I have survived heartbreak, I have survived professional and personal falls… I have survived health traumas and family tragedies… I have become so many different versions of myself and stayed loyal to the woman I always wanted to be. I have everything I asked for and more… and although you were not part of the Santa list, you were exactly what I needed. I just wanna say you’re mine, fuck what you heard, you’re mine
I needed this list to end strong, with the Queen Bey showcasing a track from a spectacular album of self-exploration and growth, mixed with beautiful R&B melodies and hip-hop verses by one of my favorites… I am not the same person that started 2014 … but I’m in love with the person that I am heading into 2015… Let’s stop holding back on this and let’s get carried away…