Cynicism is a growing phenomenon in music. True love songs are hard to come by these days. Deriving its name from Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” Yellow Diamonds is a series of lyric breakdowns in which VIBE Senior Music Editor Austin Williams celebrates songs that sound like love found in a hopeless mainstream.
Not long after the March 10 release of Lucky Daye’s Candydrip, the clocks moved forward by an hour. The sun now sets a little later and spring is almost here. For those of us who’ll be telling our grandkids about the fabled summer of 2016, the importance of spring releases and the tone they set can’t be overstated. No song of the summer has ever actually dropped in the heat of the season. Though it’s too early to refer to it in those exact terms, this is also true of Lucky Daye’s “Cherry Forest.”
In 2016, Drake’s “One Dance” arrived in April and would be named the song of the summer by Billboard that September. The following year, Rihanna and Bryson Tiller’s similarly infectious “Wild Thoughts” came in mid-June, with “Nice For What” marking another April release for Drake the year after that. While “Cherry Forest” isn’t as danceable as those particular pre-summer classics, the song captures the buzz of springtime optimism in a similar fashion.
“Cherry Forest” adheres to a formula that’s present throughout Daye’s sophomore studio album as well as the tradition of springtime music. At once, the penultimate track on Candydrip continues the singer’s thematic fixation on sweets, while that sugarcoated imagery lends itself to the feel-good tentpoles of songs released in the second quarter.
Like “Nice For What,” Daye’s track contains certain lyrics meant to excite and empower women, which makes it an especially vital song for shorties living in seasonal depression cities. And similar to “Wild Thoughts,” there’s a palatable yearning in the way the record is sung, even as its writing isn’t nearly as sexually charged. But above all other springtime traits, what’s most intoxicating about “Cherry Forest” is what it shares with “One Dance” (and “Controlla” and “Work”), in that one could almost feel the sweat dripping from its post-cuffing season flirtations.
There’s a reason creatures of spring, the birds and the bees, have long been used to delicately explain the act of sex—because allergies aren’t the only post-winter phenomena that trigger bodily fluids. Candydrip in general is an unmistakably horny album. Evidence of this can be found on every track, and even on Daye’s honey-dipped body featured on the project’s cover art. But in this song signaling the change of the seasons, and the sexual curiosity that comes with the weather breaking, that horniness is delivered more subtly and thus more sentimentally. What results is perhaps the first pre-summer anthem to read as a legitimate love song.
She lookin’ like cinnamon
Long black heels bought by no man
Two jobs so she can try and bring him home
‘Cause, girl, you know he tied up by the man
Her love is the pinnacle of the world, it’s Heaven-sent
All thought they could tell it, “Shut up,” it keeps spreadin’
It got all the people talkin’ ’bout it, but who could do without
All the circles pointin’ back to where we started
Romantic and mid-tempo, the instrumentation on “Cherry Forest” begins with an angelic and rapturous breakdown that itself feels like the first time of the year one steps outside and feels a bit of warmth on their face. The opening lyrics that follow deliver that “Nice For What” sort of encouragement male songwriters are wise to include for the ladies every once in a while.
The pre-chorus, beginning with, “Her love is the pinnacle of the world,” is when “Cherry Forest” feels its most experimental. Other than its BPM, what’ll ultimately keep this song from reaching the Billboard heights that other spring releases have achieved is its nebulous meaning. Sure, in this part of the record there’s an ineffable sense of equinox and the uncontainable attraction that comes with falling for someone at a certain point on the calendar, but its language is actually quite confusing.
Perhaps the people trying to silence the love of Daye’s muse are those winter weather f**k buddies who tend to get jealous when your interest in them melts with the snow. Or maybe the relationship that’s being described is one that’s seen multiple springs, and folks in Daye’s orbit are tired of hearing about his ups and downs with a woman he’ll eventually circle back with anyway. No matter how these lyrics are interpreted, though, the chorus that follows is at least more interesting if not altogether more comprehendible.
Waitin’ in the storm
Underneath the cherry forest
Time brings changes in the story
Find your way back to your glory
If you live in New York, D.C., Toronto, or anywhere else like these mixxy but mostly frozen cities, waiting out the winter is a non-negotiable reality of dating, especially if whomever you spent that time with was temporary. The feeling that comes from finally freeing yourself from your apartment (or someone else’s) in the spring can often feel like exploring a forest; all the hot spots are packed again and there’s an almost animalistic urge to either meet new partners or reconnect with those you haven’t seen since the temperature dropped. Indeed, “time brings changes in the story,” and you’re returned to all your horny glory.
That beauty’s so evident
They wanna worry your pretty lil skin
Hold your soul in a world oh so cold
Onе day, we’ll all find a wonderland (I know we will)
Verse two continues this feeling of how liberating warmth can be. People are outside again. Their beauty is more evident now than it was when it was shielded by a bubble coat. But sometimes with that freedom comes a different type of stress, with people worrying your “pretty lil skin” and holding onto the bad vibes they should have ditched with their thermals. But with love, or perhaps just a spring fling, we can still find ourselves in a wonderland.
I’ll be waitin’ all night
Somethin’ tells me everything is alright (Everything is alright)
I’ll be waitin’ just fine
Cherry drops keep fallin’ just to bloom in springtime (Yeah, yeah)
I’ll be waitin’ all night (I’ll be waitin’ all night)
No ode to spring is complete without a declaration of joy and the thought of a fresh start. While years change in the winter, the bridge of “Cherry Forest” imagines spring as the mark of true renewal. This idea is reiterated in Lucky Daye’s spoken-word piece closing the song, in which he explains, “The cherry forest symbolizes new beginnings/ Things that are of old, ending.”
What separates “Cherry Forest” from other notable spring releases is it actually presents some commentary on the season it seeks to score. Although it can’t be wined to like “One Dance,” and groups of women won’t shout-sing its lyrics at brunch the way they recite “Wild Thoughts” and “Nice For What,” Lucky Daye’s springtime anthem should be remembered as an attempt to capture the meaning of this time of year, not just the feeling.