Jazmine Sullivan spoke to us about Reality Show, the new album that marks the singer’s return to music after a three-year hiatus. She took some time off from the music industry, but Sullivan is back—and she’s ready to show you her reality.
Wearing a gold blazer as jazzy as her nickname and shoes so high, she contemplated taking them off, Sullivan spoke to us about the new album, Meek Mill, Beyonce, and Love & Hip Hop. See what she had to say about each of these, and if you haven’t already, listen to “Forever Don’t Last” off of the new album.
What was the hardest part about making Reality Show?
I executive produced it. A lot of the album was done in Phili with just me and the engineer. My mom would come through and let me know if stuff was hot or not. The pressure that I put on myself to do it primarily on my own, with very little help from different people, was the most difficult part.
Where did that pressure to produce the album all on your own come from?
It just felt natural. After the years that I spent away, I felt like nobody knew the direction I wanted to go in better than me. I knew myself and I wanted to be able to pick the tracks. I wanted to be instrumental in every little thing that had to do with the album.
You decided to take a break from music in 2011. What made you fall out of love with it?
I was going through a difficult relationship and it got hard to deal with those very personal issues and do my music. I was trying to fix that situation and it all became too much for me.
What brought you back?
A bad relationship can bring you down, so I got rid of a lot of that dead weight and had time to learn and grow and meditate. Naturally, the love and the desire to do [music] just came back for me.
In your documentary web series, Beyonce called you one of the best. How did that make you feel?
The way I reacted didn’t show how I felt. On the inside, I was screaming, but on the outside I couldn’t even move. Actually, that shows exactly how I felt. I love Beyonce. She’s one of the greatest entertainers that we have. For her to openly say that about me on stage while she has this big production going on, I was so happy and honored.
What was it like working with Meek Mill on the track “Dumb”?
It was unexpected. We didn’t even plan on doing the feature on this album. I was working in the studio and Meek happened to be in the studio across from me. He came over to say hi and was like “I’ve been wanting to work with you.” I didn’t know that. We had been running into each other for years because we’re both from Phili, but when he said that, I was like “Really? Lemme think.” I couldn’t think of any [song] right then that I could picture him on, but after he left, I started playing “Dumb.” I was like “Oh, this is it.” I texted him to tell him I had a track he could be on and he came back. He was cool.
“Mascara” is about keeping your look on point because you never know who you’re going to run into. Was there a particular experience that inspired this track?
I was on Instagram and I was looking at a lot of video models’ pages. I was looking at their lifestyles and how beautiful they were. I started realizing that I would go to different pages and everything was pretty much the same from the way the models dressed to how they took the picture to the things they were experiencing. I thought “Wow, this must be so hard to keep up with. Every day you have to be beautiful and be on point.” I probably was in some UGGs chillin’ out. [laughing] I can’t imagine having to do that everyday. It’s like the music industry. You have to be on at all times, even as an artist, so I can relate in some way.
What are your thoughts on using reality TV to further your career?
I see the benefits that it has for other artists. I’m not sure I would do it as of now because I’m really private. I feel like this album is my way of letting people into my life and showing them my reality.
Do you watch any VH1 reality shows?
You have to name some, but I do. I watch them all, Alexa.
Love & Hip Hop? T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle?
[laughing] Oh God, oh God. [laughing] That’s what I watch! That’s all I watch.
Is there a person on one of these shows you think deserves to have the windows busted out of his car?
[laughing] Yeah. [laughing] I don’t know if I should say it. Okay, I’ll say it. I think Stevie deserves for his to get busted out. Peter Gunz, too. He’s pretty bad. [laughing]
Any other comments about the album for your fans?
It’s eclectic. There are a lot of different genres and styles on it. Try to be open and really be a listener. There’s a lot of storytelling on it. Listen to the lyrics and I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Reality Show is undeniably an album about heartbreak and self-love. From the haunting gospel choir in “Dumb” to the “you should know better” tone of “Stupid Girls,” sung straight from the fragile heart of a 27-year-old who’s been mistreated in love, Reality Show is a mirror to Sullivan’s life. Buy the album on iTunes, and as Jazmine suggests, listen to the lyrics. They’re part of a bigger story — one that’s worth hearing.