Like honey added to warm tea, a cool breeze on a summer evening, like a good meal after a long day, Jill Scott makes everything better.
Artistically, musically, socially, emotionally — her range is undefeated and undeniable. From the minute our homegirl from Philly dropped Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1, we knew she had the goods. And the great thing about Jill is that she’s a beacon of all the best things that represent the intersection of Black creativity and womanhood. Jill is Black culture at its highest, purest form — innovative, creative, radiating pride, connected to our roots, a beautifully breathing embodiment of love for ourselves, our loved ones and our community.
When she’s on stage, it’s her love for the art and for connection that makes her live show feel like an awakening. In many of her collaborations, her love for hip-hop is made known. A relationship first nurtured by her affiliation with The Roots, she makes rappers like Lupe Fiasco and Pusha T cooler than they already are. On screen, her love for her craft is felt by everyone in front of and behind the camera. Whether it’s film or TV — her presence shifts the art, just like her presence shifts our world.
Jill’s power lies at the beginning of her career, when she started off as a spoken word artist, making a name for herself in her hometown. Discovered by Questlove, she took her own stance, making a statement as a woman and an artist from the very beginning. It was her words, her way with words and her way with natural melodies that would set her apart. It was her personal brand of soul music that would go on to make jazz-infused notes more mainstream, leading the way for artists to come such as Chrisette Michele. In addition, her ability to craft stories from our experiences emphasized the practicality of Black music as the soundtrack for our lives.
Love your man? Been cheated on by your man? Need to navigate the layers of romance? Ready to be honest about what you want in love and ask for more pleasure in your sex life? Want to fully own your desires? Jill has something for each and every one of our stories and it’s that care and compassion that is reflected into everything she touches. Her decades worth of commitment to art as a love story, in all of its many forms, continues to inspire artists. Jill’s commitment to spreading love through her creativity can be felt by everyone and was most recently highlighted during her Verzuz Battle with her sister Erykah Badu.
May we forever sing in harmony about breakfast—griiiiiiits especially.
“There are a lot of writers watching right now who are holding onto stuff because they don’t know how people will accept it. And it doesn’t matter,” she gently encouraged. “You have to get it out. You’re just holding onto something that really doesn’t belong to you anymore.”
On top of supporting our collective creativity, Jill introduced a component of women’s empowerment that’s often overlooked — the love we have for ourselves and the love we receive. In a world steeped in racism, terrorism, discrimination, and over-sexualization, in a society that tries to make us feel less than worthy, Jill is a reminder that love is synonymous with Black women.
Look at the lyrics of “Golden”: I’m holding on to my freedom/Can’t take it from me/I was born into it/It comes naturally.
The boldness and power in her lyrics is matched by her beauty. Everything we love about Jill is wrapped up in her smile. Her embodiment of love, her expression, her radiance, her ability to full on emote wraps you up in a trance; you can’t simply look away. She solidifies her presence in our hearts, minds and spirits. On the 20th anniversary of her debut album, here’s to the most beautiful woman in music, who makes us feel beautiful from the inside out and is a gift to the world. May we forever sing in harmony about breakfast—griiiiiiits especially.
A native Chicagoan and Memphian, Melissa Kimble, is a connector, consultant, Black cultural storyteller, and the founder of #blkcreatives, a collective that advocates for Black genius across creative industries.