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2021 Music Recommendations: 'Heaux Tales,' 'Demidevil'


This year begins with a huge advantage - it's not last year. There are actually things to look forward to. We asked a colleague at NPR Music to tell us what albums she's most excited about.

LATESHA HARRIS, BYLINE: Hi, I'm LaTesha Harris. I'm the news assistant for NPR Music. The album I'm most excited for in 2021 is Jazmine Sullivan's "Heaux Tales" coming out on Friday the 8.


JAZMINE SULLIVAN: (Singing) You said that I've been actin' different, yeah. Funny how I finally flipped the script on you when you the one who's double-dippin', yeah. You so sloppy, how I caught you slippin' up. You're off the lease...

HARRIS: Jazmine Sullivan is a singer-songwriter from Philly, and she has a very specific, raspy voice that I love, with a lot of control and range. And she's very much interested in training on the R&B songwriters and musicians before her, like Lauryn Hill, Brandy, various gospel singers as well.


SULLIVAN: (Singing) Don't forget to come and pick up your, oh, feelings. Don't leave no pieces. You need to hurry and pick up your, oh, feelings while I'm up cleaning. Boy, please...

HARRIS: So the song we're listening to, "Pick Up Your Feelings," I really love because, you know, she shares music about breakups, domestic violence. And with this song, it's just that natural dynamism. When it comes to, like, emotional relationships, she can convey all this emotion in one song. It's very funny and very candid, which I love.


SULLIVAN: (Singing) Yeah, listen, I ain't listenin' just for you to go and break my heart again. I learned my lesson last time. And I ain't comin' back now. You're missin' what you had now. And I bet you I look better, don't I? New phone, who is this?

HARRIS: So I'm sure that would be one in a variety of many other great songs on the album. I'm sure it's going to be a very big conversation starter, just, you know, talking about feminism and Black womanhood through her own music and her art.


SULLIVAN: (Singing) I ain't got the room for extra baggage. So don't forget to come and pick up your, oh, feelings.

HARRIS: There's also another album I'm really looking forward to, and that is Ashnikko's "Demidevil," which comes out February 19.


ASHNIKKO: (Rapping) You don't want to see me bratty. Pet the kitty, call me catty. Make your man call me Daddy. He talk too much. He's too chatty.

HARRIS: It is Ashnikko's debut mixtape. She had a viral TikTok hit, "Stupid," with rapper Yung Baby Tate. You listen to the music and you're like, this is so fun and so chaotic. And the song we're listening to right now, "Daisy," it's just so brash and so bold.


ASHNIKKO: (Rapping) I'm no Cinderella, but I like the shoes. Big glass platforms, [expletive], I'm choosy. Long blue hair, blue as a bruise. Only trust a fella for some light amusement.

HARRIS: Her lyricism is kind of, like, underscored by how fun her music sounds. Like, it sounds like you're just, you know, listening to a regular, like, pop hit. But the lyrics are very intense and very angry most of the time - I don't know - and just very reflective of what it means to be, like, a growing young woman (laughter) expressing all this, like, madness and rage and this, like, very, like, syrupy (ph) music.


ASHNIKKO: (Singing) I'm crazy, but you like that. I bite back. Daisies on your nightstand, never forget it. Blossom in the moonlight, screw eyes, glacial with the blue ice, I'm terrifying. I'm crazy, but you like that...

HARRIS: And it's, like, these stories that are, like, homegrown stories that could be relatable to anyone, but she just takes that and makes it so - I guess not unique to her experience but unique to her expression and how she wants to tell that story.


ASHNIKKO: (Singing) I'm terrifying. La, la, la, la, la, la (ph).

KING: That was LaTesha Harris of NPR Music talking about two albums she's looking forward to this year - Ashnikko's "Demidevil" and Jazmine Sullivan's "Heaux Tales."


ASHNIKKO: (Singing) La, la, la, la, la, la. I'm terrifying. La, la, la. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

LaTesha Harris is NPR Music's editorial assistant. A relentless jack-of-all-trades, she takes turns writing, editing and producing music coverage. Invested in the culture behind pop, hip-hop and R&B, her work highlights the intersection between identity and history. Once in a blue moon, Harris moonlights as a talking head with no filter.
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