Musiq Soulchild’s ‘Juslisen’ And The Art Of Writing About Love
You can’t just listen to Juslisen on a partly sunny day. The skies have to be as clear as Lupita Nyongo’s skin and the sun has to show out in all its splendor like Saturday’s NYC weather (May 6). The grooves of a hip-swaying bass to the endless melodic discoveries of a stage piano deserve to be listened to on that perfect day. However, in addition to the instrumentals stand the lyrics of unabashed love and passion.
To mark the 15th anniversary of that chart-topping soundscape, we revisit each track to follow Soulchild’s musical journey through the language of love. So gather around and get in harmony below.
Soulchild begins his journey to the land where lovers lay by getting over those awkward phone conversations. Via his cellular device, he gets to know his potential lifelong partner through a set of questions from “what’s your sign” to occupation to meeting the parents one day. “Everything is cool when love is all brand new/ ‘Cause you’re learning me and I’m learning you,” he sings.
“Caughtup” feat. AAries
The utilization of a woman’s voice plays a central role throughout this soundscape. AAries serves as that vocal figure on “Caughtup” where Soulchild seemingly rekindles an old flame that he plans to pursue once the formalities are out the way.
The moment when you try to figure out the difference between “talking” and “dating” rears its head on this thumping track. Soulchild is ready to become exclusive, but he can’t tell if his other half is on the same wavelength. This melody could’ve been the precursor to 2007’s “B.U.D.D.Y.” with all of the “maybes” that are littered throughout the track.
The Philly native pledges allegiance to his girl’s love kingdom with the fervor of a church choir. From the knock of the church organ to the rattling of a tambourine, Soulchild stands before the congregation to testify on a love so profound that he had to shout hallelujah. With a clever double entendre, he belts out, “I wanna thank your father/ For making you on that day.”
With croons that are reminiscent of Aaliyah, it’s fitting that this song is titled “Babygirl.” By the time we reach track No. 6, Musiq is ready to share his fountain of love that seems to overflow when he stares at his lover—so much so that it pushes him to the brink of insanity as heard down below.
The question of can you sleep with your friend and not catch feelings is explored on the replay-worthy “Halfcrazy.” Soulchild caught feelings for a longtime confidant once they “crossed the line.” Now, it looks like those days of just chilling and joking are far behind them.
This melody follows the quintessential template of rhythm and blues: regret, love lost and a production that pulls at the heartstrings just as forceful as the lyrics. Soulchild reminisces on a past relationship and although it didn’t work out, he doesn’t regret the mistakes he made because it “enhanced” his character.
The self-confidence continues on “Future.” If you need a pick-me-up, hit play on this track and allow Soulchild to be your life coach in fulfilling those goals that are within your reach.
This doesn’t serve as a bathroom break in the middle of the 19-track project. The dance party is just getting started as Soulchild doesn’t allow a former acquaintance to kill his vibe.
Soulchild puts on his specs and lab coat to diagnose an unidentified woman with the reasons why love seems to be a figment of her imagination. While he’s laying out the causes, he’s also showcasing why he’s the antidote to her love drought.
Channeling his inner Marvin Gaye, the time for intimacy is on Soulchild’s mind, but his partner’s mixed signals make it hard for him to decipher if he should set the mood or wait for the right moment. He chooses the latter and saves his future lover from having to admit that she’s not ready to go to fourth base. “We can take our time girl/Lets get it right,” he sings. “Make it last forever/Not just for one night.”
The urge to compare your current beau to the beaus of the past can be an unavoidable ordeal. Penned by fellow R&B crooner Eric Roberson, Soulchild calls out the trust issues that have made a bed in his home and reassures his lover that he’s not a carbon copy of the exes that preceded him. “See now I’m not to blame for the pain/ That was caused by previous cats/ Who had your heart before me.” We see you for you too, Souldchild.
While out clearing his mind, Soulchild is approached by a woman who seeks to guide him to the world of temptation, but there’s much at stake that could get tarnished if he gives in to his burning desires. He’s strictly a one-woman-man as we wipe the sweat off our brow for what could’ve been a head-shaking moment.
“Bestfriend” feat. Carol Riddick
Welp, those sweat beads have returned. The lovers drift apart over meaningless arguments and tuning out each other’s feelings. Carol Riddick’s runs and advice serve as a source of therapy for Soulchild who returns to the drawing board to save his relationship.
This tune probably remains on the extensive list of first-dance wedding songs. One of music’s most heartfelt melodies tells the tale of “through thick or thin” and the fact that as long as love’s foundation remains firm, any dark day can easily turn into sunny skies.
Taking pride in the type of man that he is today, Soulchild recorded an ode to his parents where he reminisced on their life lessons and unwavering support. Let this tune serve as inspiration to call your parents right now, folks.
There’s an unknown quality about Soulchild’s lover that he can’t quite put a finger on. Is it her smile? Is it her style? Either way, it looks like Soulchild is here to stay while the guessing game plays on.
“Ifiwouldaknew (Girlnextdoor Remix)” feat. AAries
To close the album on a high note, Soulchild sampled DeBarge’s “Stay With Me” (also used by Biggie Smalls and Ashanti) to admit his attraction to a childhood friend many years later. Time to shoot your shot? Soulchild thinks so.