Originally posted here
If Brandy was the girl next door in the ‘90s, then Summer Walker is the ‘round the way girl of the 2020’s. Topping the charts once to some may be considered luck, the second time maybe be a fluke, but as her new album Still Over It (LVRN/Interscope) is on pace to earn Walker her third number one project, it is safe to say she’s the charm. From the edgy tattoos sprinkled across her body, always on-trend hairstyles, to the confident way in which she showcases her curves, Walker is the modern-day woman archetype. However, what makes the Atlanta native so relatable to the masses isn’t any of these factors but rather her willingness to love hard and out loud; good, bad, or indifferent.
After bursting onto the scene, Walker’s attempt at anonymity due to her severe anxiety disorder added to the allure of her earlier work. However, with fame comes heightened visibility and her past relationship with producer London On Da Track added fuel to the fanfare. In any relationship it is hard to avoid the input of outsiders; in a celebrity relationship it is next to impossible. Consequently due to public scrutiny, interference from London On Da Track’s past partners whom Walker refers to throughout the project as “baby mama’s one through three”, and a host of other things their relationship came to tumultuous end. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Still Over It was birthed out of the relationship’s dying embers.
The 20-track album with a run time over an hour, is an intimate, honest, and raw firsthand account in retrospect from the child that decided to touch the stove even after their mama gave them the ‘it’s hot’ warning. To be clear, this album isn’t aspirational. It’s a cautionary tale. It’s an artistic dissertation of the five stages of romantic grief set to music.
Bitter narrated by Cardi B opens the album setting the mood for what’s to come. In the interlude, Cardi B offers advice on how to handle the media blowback Walker received after news of her pregnancy hit the web. While the advice is directly in alignment with what most of our home girls would say, it’s the advice you want but not the advice you need. Fueled with this misplaced anger the stages of grief officially begins as the album masterfully transitions into Ex For A Reason featuring JT (of the City Girls) produced by Buddah Bless, Sean Garrett, and Boobie.
Memorable lyric: “Ain’t no competin’ when it come to spendin’ time with me / ‘Cause I’ma say the shit she won’t say / Even get up in your face with it / Them and me are different”
As the sole single for the album, Ex For A Reason is extremely deceptive. The uptempo track when independent from the project seems out of context. That is because it doesn’t do a good job at exploring the core nexus of Still Over It whereas when following Bitter fits like a glove. On the track, both ladies take direct shots at their boyfriends’ past partners. Using the allotted three minutes and 45 seconds to prove they aren’t in competition with them because you know, “you are an ex [girlfriend] for a reason”. If he didn’t want you then, he isn’t going to want you now that I’m in the picture. In light of recent developments on both Walker and JT’s end, this was just immaturity speaking.
One of the album’s breakout tracks, Toxic featuring Lil Durk produced by Active By Night, Dreamlife, and Dylan Graham was a masterful showcase on how denial keeps dead relationships on life support.
Memorable lyric: “Don’t start no shit, won’t be no shit, baby / You know I’m lovin’ that dick, it got me so crazy / Make me doze off right after, that’s how I know it’s good / You always gonna, gon’ be my baby”
Juxtaposed to Walker’s emotion-filled delivery, Dirk’s writing presented the perfect contrast. Dirk gives listeners a peek into the manipulative behaviors of men. The song displays Walker’s willingness to pull the wool over her own eyes just to “keep a man” all while her partner continues to foster an emotionally abusive environment. This theatrical showing of both the man’s and woman’s perspective is something I wish was explored further on the album. Yet, I understand the importance of Summer Walker telling the story through a woman’s point of view.
As the reality of what has transpired over the course of their relationship, Walker is hit with a wave of depression. You Don’t Know Me produced by Slimwav is the direct product of this realization.
Memorable lyric: “Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s a lot / Long flights, long nights, fast cars, it nеver stops / But you could take a minute / Just to pay attеntion to me for once / You should know my body by now / You should know my mind by now”
Based in reality with just a dash of exaggeration, on You Don’t Know Me, Walker recounts in several ways how her needs were never met during the relationship. She goes on to sing about how regardless of how much access she’s given her partner to her physical body as well as her heart her partner’s efforts have never pierced past the surface. Her partner simply isn’t as equally invested as she is. Meaning he hasn’t taken the time necessary to get to know her in all of the ways she has gotten to know him. Walker may be partnered but she still feels alone. Walker desires an intimacy that she will never receive at least not from the one she desperately craves it from.
In the effort to keep hope alive, the next stage of grief highlighted on Still Over It is bargaining. There are two tracks in particular that explore Walker’s attempts to bargain with her lover. The first track is Reciprocate produced by London On Da Track, A. Archer, and Boobie. Within the opening lines of verse one Walker pleads her case, “first of all, forget these b*****s / I ain’t even care ’bout your riches / You know I’m a different girl / I come from a different world / It ain’t even worth us splittin’.” Although it is quite agonizing to listen to “Reciprocate,” this is the lived experience of so many caught up in the pursuit of love.
The second song on the project in this same vein is Closure produced by JustAcoustic, London On Da Track, Remey Williams, Roark Bailey, and Boobie.
Memorable lyric: “Too many days that I’ve made this mistake and / Too many nights you and I’ve said goodbye / Too many texts to express how I hate it / Swear I’m almost done ’cause it’s too many times”
Unlike on “Reciprocate”, Closure is the bargaining Walker is doing with herself not her partner. On the track, Walker attempts to solve the age-old “why me — why’d you do it” riddle. The idea of closure is a myth and over the course of the song listeners discover this as well. Closure is a false idea that by speaking with the person who has caused you harm, they will say the magic words triggering the start of the healing process. On the other hand, what typically happens is you either have more pain inflicted on you. Or you fall right back into their web of deceit that caused you harm in the first place. The latter was Walker’s result.
According to behavioral psychologists the second stage of grief is supposed to be anger, unfortunately, Still Over It, isn’t sequenced this way. In fact, it isn’t until the very end of the album that listeners hear Walker unabashedly express her anger. But when she does, it makes you do a double-take. “4th Baby Mama” produced by Nineteen85, Slimwav, Active By Night, and Daniel East is a release of all that pinned up anger.
Memorable lyric: “I wanna start with your mama, she should’ve whooped your a** / Know you ain’t shit, but she don’t care ’cause you lit”
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Walker holds nothing back in her vent about the hardships faced during her relationship with London On Da Track. Now that she’s removed the wool from her eyes, Walker acknowledges that red flags were present even in the very beginning that should have deterred her from pursuing a relationship with him. Firstly, the financial control he has over his mother which skews her ability to be honest with him in order to provide motherly advice. Second, his lack of emotional maturity as it relates to raising his children from previous relationships. And lastly, his fragile ego. On 4th Baby Mama, Walker let everything hang out but failed to accept the role she played in her becoming the fourth woman to have a child with this man. This lack of ownership isn’t unique to Walker, rather an extremely common practice used to shift blame onto your romantic partner when the relationship fails.
The final stage of grief is acceptance. On Still Over It, there is one track in particular that conveys Walker’s acceptance of the relationship being unsalvageable, Unloyal. The song produced by London On Da Track, Remey Williams, Slimwav, and Boobie which features a guest appearance by Ari Lennox is a current edgy version of Chrisette Michele’s 2009 song “Blame It On Me.”
Memorable lyric: “You think I’m just gon’ stand on by / And watch you waste my time? / Boy, I am way too fine, so I’m out / I guess I’m unloyal, baby / I guess I’m untrue / I guess I’m unloyal, baby / We’ll call it what you want”
In order to arrive at this stage in the grief process, one must also acknowledge public perception is out of your control. Walker is unsubscribing from the ride or die complex that holds women more specifically Black women hostage in a romantic partnership. The ride or die complex requires women to endure harm all under the false notion that love is waiting for them on the other side. When a woman opts out, her commitment to love is questioned by both her poisonous partner as well as other women who’ve opted in.
In the track, Walker declares she is willing to leave this dangerous mental cycle in order to regain her sanity. Similar to Chrisette Michele’s “Blame It On Me,” on “Unloyal” Walker admits the ego of a man won’t allow her partner to rationally implore why she’s leaving but instead place the onus on her. Walker will play the role of villain to his friends, family, and to the public so long as the relationship is laid to rest.
The project closes on a high note wrapped in Black Twitter humor with the interlude, Ciara’s Prayer narrated by Ciara. While Cardi B gave the advice Walker wanted to hear (get the one up on his exs and the public), at this moment Ciara is giving Walker the advice she needed to hear. What’s that advice? Turn inward, step away, love yourself, and look towards a higher power for true fulfillment.
In conclusion, Still Over It is Summer Walker’s strongest project to date. The album is exquisitely bookmarked with Bitter and Ciara’s Prayer creating both a strong opening and closing. The album’s guest features were well thought out and elevated the honesty of the album by seeking out the perfect narrator for each scenario from Cardi B, JT, Ari Lennox, Omarion, Ciara and the most effective Lil Dirk. Still Over It’s production was stellar. The variety of tempos on the album is an excellent touch ever so delicately helping to set the mood. On the calmer, slowier, downtempo tracks Walker depicts moments of reflection whereas the few uptempo tracks on the album are used to show how Walker at times is lost in the sauce or actively participating in the chaos of it all.
But to be clear, there is still room for improvement. The sequencing of the album needed some tweaking to aid in the project’s storytelling. The writing on this album was entry-level. While fans online are geeking out about how cutthroat tracks like 4th Baby Mama is on this track in particular by not strategically approaching the writing was a missed opportunity to express Walker’s rage better yet disappointment in a more poetic way. Also, Walker’s vocal range felt flat. Following the release of both Life On Earth and Over It Live for BET Sessions, listeners are well aware of what Walker is vocally capable of, and while Still Over It is filled with her signature harmonies and vocal layering heard on tracks like Closure, Throw it Away, and Switch A N***a Out Walker fails to challenge herself to push the bar forward. Lastly, same with Over It, Still Over It is a long listen. For casual fans of R&B music, seeing the run time of one hour and three minutes or a tracklist of twenty songs is an immediate turn-off. To Walker’s credit this time around, Still Over It was a much smoother listen. However, there were a few songs the album could’ve done without i.e. Switch A N***a Out and Screwin. Dat Right There seemed out of place. Broken Promises and “4th Baby Mama” could’ve been merged into one track. Moving forward Walker must fine-tune her edit process. If she insists on a longer project, an A-side and B-side would certainly help retain listeners.
Overall, Still Over It is one of the most honest, raw, and current looks into modern relationships and dating culture. The album is a cautionary tale of a love lost that explores emotional warfare, hypergamy, pick-mes, f-boys, and more. There’s no debate to be had, Summer Walker has cemented herself in R&B music with the release of Still Over It.