I was 13 years old, and I was riding in the front seat of my auntie’s car when Jill Scott’s “Golden” came on the radio. My auntie immediately blasted the song to the car’s maximum volume and accompanied it with a “Jill Scott is the truth” comment. I wasn’t sure if that was directed toward me or just a general statement, but it urged me to discover the artistry of Jill Scott. Before that, I had only vaguely knew about her music. Regardless of whether my aunt’s statement was directed toward me, I knew that it was a hint that Jill Scott was an artist that I should be listening to because it had my auntie’s famous seal of approval. She said something similar when she blasted “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” while I was riding in the car with her the year before, which prompted me to download the album on my MP3 player. So I knew that I needed to do the same thing with “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1”, Jill Scott’s debut album that really introduced me to sex.
Now, obviously, I had some clue of what sex was prior to listening to Jill Scott’s album. I had watched the sex scene in “Love & Basketball” plenty of times. But listening to Jill Scott was the first time I heard an artist speak about sex beyond just the physical act. Scott introduced me to the joy, pain, insecurity, the indescribable bliss and other emotions that are attached to sex.
Although it took me some time to really understand the nuances of what the hell Jill Scott was talking about, my naive 13-year-old ears at least knew that it had something to do with sex because she mentions it, makes culinary allusions to it and worships it all throughout the album. So when I recently saw a video of Ms. Jilly from Philly posing like she was giving felatio to a mic during one of her concerts and the subsequent sex shaming from people on the Internet, I was confused because this—— the unapologetically sex-positive individual—— is the Jill Scott I was introduced to when I was 13.
At least that’s who listeners were introduced on “Exclusively”, the album’s second track. The record is a spoken word piece on which Scott details her happiness from a post-coital experience (“This morning, my man exclusively introduced me/ to some extra good lovin’/he was lickin’ and suckin’ on everything/ just the way he should). Scott’s bliss during the morning after is at such an all-time high that she goes to store to pick up food for her and her man in hopes of getting some more sex when she returns. However, during her time in the store, she ponders the all but too familiar thought of how exclusive her experience with her man is when she sees a pretty woman at the counter (“The new girl at the counter was cute, not as fine as me/ was this some kind of women’s intuition, some kind of insecurity?”). But at the end, as the woman at the counter recognizes the smell of Jill Scott’s lover, she realizes that her extra lovin’ in the morning is as exclusive as she thought.
With “The Way”, Scott shows listeners how badly she wants sex from her man. It’s the morning after having some good sex again, and Scott trades in a night with a girls for a another night of sex from her man (“Woke up this morning with a smile on my face/ jumped out of bed, took a shower, dressed, cleaned up my place/ made some breakfast, toast, 2 scrambled eggs, grits”). But it’s on the next track “Honey Molasses” that Scott poetically describes her sexual experience with her man. As she contemplates calling him after their night of passion, she describes her magical, time-travelling sexual experience (You were in my home my body/my dome/ in a circle of passion we/ Paris Italy/Japan Africa Rome/ We made music/We trombone). When she finally musters up the courage to call him, she decides to leave a heartwarming voice message, but to her surprise, he answers.
In between those previously mentioned songs about sex, Scott talks about love, being heartbroken and growing up as a black girl from Philadelphia, which creates the aesthetic of “Who Is Jill Scott…”. She unapologetically sings and rhymes about her desires and the bliss she feels from pleasure in a soothing and matter-of-fact way that makes the coming-of-age album even more listenable. Thus, sex, along with the appeal and wanting of it, is a part of who Jill Scott is, She didn’t sugarcoat that in any way on her debut album, and she continued that trend throughout the rest of her career. So the next time people become perplexed about her sexual innuendos during concert, “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Vol. 1” is always available on Spotify and Apple Music.