Jazmine Sullivan is an American R&B/soul singer. The Philadelphia-based artist released her debut project, 'Fearless,' back in 2008. A multi-Grammy winning artist, she most recently put out her 'Heaux Tales' EP back in 2021. The record is one of the best R&B records of the 2020s. In addition, Sullivan is well-known for her covers of songs, which ranges from performing 80s Prince remakes to performing the national anthem with Eric Church.
Sullivan's career certainly hasn't been a linear rise to the top. While she's been nominated for Grammys throughout her career, she was snubbed twelve times before winning two Grammys in 2022. Dropped by her first label at 18 years old, she stated "That was a big blow. I was angry. I was young and I didn't know what to do with myself." Eventually, she was inspired by Missy Elliott to dive back into music. Elliott would contribute background vocals to Sullivan's breakout track, "Need U Bad." Collaborating with the likes of Frank Ocean and Mary J Blige, she's established herself on the shortlist of the most talented singer/songwriters in music today.
Sullivan has consistently taken extended breaks after she releases an album. She has only released four studio albums over the past fifteen years. In fact, she semi-retired from music back in 2014 over Twitter. She announced that she was "taking an extended break" from anything music related. Point being, we aren't expecting a new project anytime soon.
Today, we're taking a look at some of her best collaborations throughout her trying, illustrious career.
Need U Bad
While "Bust Your Windows" would eventually sprout as the headlining hit from her debut album, "Need U Bad" was the initial track the record that would reach the Billboard charts. Featuring production and vocal chops from hip-hop legend Missy Elliott, the 4-minute love song blends reggaeton percussion with hip-hop infused snares.
As aforementioned, Elliott played an instrumental role in ushing Sullivan back into music. With Sullivan receiving a second chance at a record deal with the release of 'Fearless,' the album was a make-or-break moment for the 21-year-old. "Need U Bad" would erase those internal doubts, solidifying her as an essential recording artist in the genre. She was nominated for "Best New Artist" later that year, an award that would be won by Adele.
Released as an impromptu collaboration single between Bryson Tiller and Jazmine Sullivan, the single closed the chapter on Sullivan's brief retirement from music. However, Sullivan's "retirement" is better-defined as a temporary break from creating her solo art. Throughout those years, the in-demand artist was still supporting artists such as Goldlink or Mary J Blige. She co-wrote four songs off of Blige's 2017 project, 'Strength Of A Woman.'
Tiller and Sullivan bounce off of each other seamlessly on 'Insecure', having a conversation about the insecurities within an intimate relationship from the perspective of a male and a female. Approaching 100 million streams on Spotify, it became her second most streamed song to date. The track was created with the show 'Insecure' in mind, serving as the title track for season 2 of the hit show.
Featuring experimental R&B singer/producer Ari Lennox, "On It" is the sixth track off of 'Heaux Tales.' The fourth single leading up to the album's full release, the two blend seamlessly amongst sensual production and lyricism. Lennox released her breakout sophomore project, 'Age/Sex/Location' back in 2022. "On It" has become one of the more commercially successful cuts off of 'Heaux Tales,'. It recently surpassed 30 million streams on Spotify.
Sullivan and Lennox each sign a personal vendetta about society's unwritten rules of how women should behave on an intimate level. Lush guitar strings work in and out of the production, as high-pitch vocal falsettos seize the attention of the listener. Lennox delivers a faster paced verse on the back-half that walks a tightrope between rap and singing. For a record full of booming vocals, it's a refreshing change of pace at the midpoint of the record.
Girl Like Me
The fourteenth and final track off of 'Heaux Tales,' "Girl Like Me" saw Jazmine Sullivan collaborate with fellow R&B recording artist H.E.R. Featuring somber acoustic strings and piercing vocals, the instrumentation fits well into the comfort zone of where H.E.R thrives. A serene end to an engagingly chaotic record, she ends 'Heaux Tales' feeling just as lost as she did at the beginning of it.
"Girl Like Me" is the first time Sullivan has dueted with another woman on one of her songs. H.E.R's contribution feels full circle, as Sullivan paved the way for artists such as herself to thrive in today's scene. The second-most streamed song off of 'Heaux Tales,' the song recently passed 40 million streams on Spotify.
Built for Love
The sixth track off of PJ Morton's 'PAUL,' "Built for Love" contains the tone of a soothing, southern love ballad. Similar to "Insecure," the two are singing to each other about love throughout the track. The track is simple, but effectively heartwarming and soulful. It's a hallmark example of why great music doesn't necessarily have to be "experimental" or "genre-bending."
Jazmine Sullivan and Morton sing "if it's not worth keeping, then it's not worth fighting for" amidst high-pitched trumpets and fizzling piano chords. The two sing over each other on the chorus, as their contrasting tones mesh perfectly. "Built for Love" was nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance at the 2020 Grammys. The award went to Lizzo's "Jerome."