The entertainment news realm revolves around gossip and spilling tea with reckless abandon. The juicy morsels that keep The Shade Room’s lights on dominate news cycles on social media sites, morphing rap and R&B stars into reality TV show characters. The lines blur between private and public life, letting fans online believe they understand the intricacies of these figures’ lives, sitting back with popcorn ready as a new episode unfolds like a daytime soap opera.
Summer Walker has supplanted herself in the public eye, both through her outstanding introductory projects Last Day of Summer and Over It and her tumultuous relationship with Atlanta producer London On Da Track. In doing so, she’s opened herself up to judgment and speculation about every aspect of her life: her pregnancy, breakup with London and subsequent mental health.
On Still Over It, Walker combats swirling narratives by utilizing the biggest draw in her artistry — her vulnerability. She displays an innate storytelling ability, marked with raw details about the intricacies of her emotions. Refusing to hold back, Walker covers the project in personal drama, navigating a balancing act between compelling and gratuitous.
Walker’s confessional drama is the latest in a line of great R&B albums fostered from emotional turmoil, following in the likes of Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. She expertly weaves heartbreaking details of her relationship’s downfall into each track, backing them with great vocal moments.
There’s a clear villain in Walker’s story. London’s presence looms, both in the form of production credits (despite her denying he produced anything) and lyrical content, over the entirety of the project. It’s more purposeful considering she lambasts him over his own beats, a level of catharsis few could ever hope to achieve. She’s unafraid to take him to task for his failures, drawing a direct line between her sadness and his misgivings as a partner.
Walker leans on others often in Still Over It, producing outstanding moments when she has a supportive atmosphere around her, as she processes the demise of the toxic relationship and the gifts and scars that came from it. On “No Love,” she teams with SZA to lament wasted time on failed instances of emotional intimacy, promising to only involve themselves in no-strings-attached relationships in the future. The groovy production, stocked with plenty of bass to provide a foil to the two singer’s voices, grants the pair room to display the full-range of their vocal talents.
On “Unloyal,” Walker and Ari Lennox exhibit the peak of their soulful powers. The sultry beat is fueled by blues elements and a powerful saxophone solo, making the track feel like it belongs in a seedy, cigarette smoke-filled jazz bar. The duo pairs vitriol with beauty, sweetening the delivery of insulting lines such as, “Tell me how a grown man so childish/Always in Kevin Samuels’ comments.”
While the vocals are on point, Walker makes production risks that miss the mark. The Neptunes-produced “Dat Right There,” rife with energy and the classic four-count feels out of place, sandwiched between slower-paced and more thematically thoughtful tracks. She brags about being able to steal anyone’s man over a beat that feels like it was ripped from a 2003 Kelis studio session. This is the latest in a recent stretch of Pharrell-produced R&B/pop tracks that stray away from the artist’s ethos, as the dominating signature sound refuses to mesh with Walker’s subtle delivery.
“Ciara’s prayer” strays away from the scorned ethos of the album, with the inclusion of her sermon registering as preachy and tone-deaf.
Walker’s power lies in her songwriting, which acts as a conduit for her pain and anger. “You Don’t Know Me” features a stripped-down, intimate string production that forces the listener to focus on Walker’s words. “I’m honestly runnin’ out of patience/Communication just don’t seem to work,” she sings, finally seeing the signs of her failing relationship. “Session 33” follows a similar formula: a lone acoustic guitar accompanies Walker as delivers a lengthy soliloquy, with her muted voice stricken with pain and sadness.
“4th Baby Mama” is her personal “Ether” against London, a final nail in the coffin for their relationship. Her voice dominates the track as she name-drops his mother, Young Thug and Drake, drilling him with emotional ice picks with every word. It’s raw, uncut and expertly precise, as each biting critique picks at London’s standing as a man. “How could you make me spend my whole pregnancy alone,” she sings, interrogating him for his crimes as a partner.
Still Over It puts Walker into an elite tier of R&B artists who are able to balance personal vendettas and artistic execution. She pulls no punches, commanding attention through her ability to integrate her drama into tracks through beautiful storytelling.
Throughout the album, she reminds gossipers and tabloids of the humanity underneath the invasive stories they peddle, turning her personal strife into relatable tracks that resonate for anyone going through heartbreak.
Summer Walker album still on repeat
— Tina Turtle ? (@tinaqueen_15) November 8, 2021
Summer Walker and Ari Lennox on Unloyal: pic.twitter.com/9rPMudba0x
— The Final Agni Kai ☄️? (@ImChristianBell) November 11, 2021
This summer walker some mid her first joint was a classic
— breadwinner bill (@BMS_shotcaller) November 15, 2021