We’ve talked about Jazmine Sullivan’s “Mascara” here before. But briefly. And now that her album Reality Show has been out for about two months now, we’ve had time to really let it sink all the way in. I know personally, I’ve picked out my favorite songs and declared Jazmine as one of my faves in the R&B game.
And as most of you know when you declare a fave, it is your duty to bring other people over to your team. So you and the fandom can eventually dominate the world. It was with that mission in mind that I suggested a friend of mine–who just so happens to be a musician– listen to Jazmine Sullivan.
His response was a bit lukewarm. No big deal. I love a challenge. Turns out, I didn’t have to do a whole lot of talking. One day he stopped by my place and Sullivan’s “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)” just so happened to be playing on my shuffle. And sure enough he was drawn to the genius of the vocal and the production. (For which Jazmine is also responsible.)
So I played the entire album. And then he listened some more on his own. Of course, he loved it and wanted to discuss some of the songs since Jazmine’s work inspires that type of thing. And “Mascara” came up.
We interviewed Jazmine not too long after the album was released and I asked her about the inspiration behind this particular song. She explained that she kept seeing Instagram models who all looked, dressed and posed the same. They even seemed to be leading similar lifestyles.
If you haven’t heard the song, Jazmine sings as one of these women:
Yeah my hair and my ass fake
But so what
I get my rent paid with it
And my tits get me trips
To places I can’t pronounce right
He said he’ll keep it coming if I keep my body tight.
And even though my friend agreed that the song told an incredible story, he doubted whether or not a lot of people would feel comfortable singing it out loud. She sings about a life that so many either shun or are attempting to avoid entirely. He felt like maybe she takes a condescending tone and people would feel like they were being preached to, singing it out loud. I agreed. Nothing wrong with preach singing. That, after all, is the basis of gospel music.
And while it may seem preachy and condescending on the surface, I told him perhaps he would see things differently if he were a woman.
There’s so much pressure for us to look and dress a certain way that hearing yourself sing “Mascara,” in all of its desperation, superficiality and materialism can serve as a good reminder about how wayward these thoughts of altering or conforming ourselves can sound when they’re actually verbalized.
It could be really easy to sing down or preach to the Instagram models of the world. But to me, “Mascara” is a way to sing to our own insecurities, particularly the parts of us that believe our lives would be better if we only looked a certain way. This is why I ride for Jazmine. She crafted this brilliant song that is actually medicine that tastes like candy.