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.
Lately, I’ve been bored with how one-dimensional R&B music about heartache has sounded. As argued in last week’s breakdown of Syd and Kehlani’s “Out Loud”—a song about demanding more from your partner not because you’re ready to leave them, but because you’re desperate to love them—very few artists these days bother to detail the connections that come before acrimony. In that argument, I cited a conversation I had with Muni Long earlier this year. And as if the singer sensed a Yellow Diamonds bat signal shining high above Gotham City, Long swooped in with “Another,” a track that’s perfectly aligned with the sort of holistic heartache anthems I’ve been asking for.
In attempting to understand why certain R&B fans are so attached to songs that validate their romantic suffering, I thought back to something Long said to me during our February 2022 interview about her viral hit, “Hrs and Hrs.”
Answering a question about the song’s creation and how it evades the cynicism that’s taken hold of rest of the genre, she explained, “It’s true to life. I’ve been married for eight years now. It’ll be eight years in June. And I really just enjoy intimacy. Like, spending time, nonverbal communication, all of those things. And I don’t care about people feeling like they’re too cool or feeling like it’s corny or whatever. Because you wouldn’t say that if you’ve actually experienced it.”
“Another” is rooted in that precious experience, which far too many toxic kings and woe-is-me sad sacks seem be lacking in life. On the surface, the song is about an ultimatum. “What one ni**a won’t do, another ni**a gon’ do/ I’m putting you on notice/ Another ni**a bought me roses,” Long sings in the track’s opening chorus. I imagine frustrated romantics who seek solace in breakup songs felt empowered by these lyrics.
But what makes “Another” a deceptively devoted love song is Muni Long’s understanding of what it means to truly have options. Most people who actually have suitors in line waiting to claim their partner’s spot realize how silly it is to pretend they’d ever entertain them. Because if those other options were at all viable, their partner wouldn’t be there taking up space in the first place.
Like Syd and Kehlani’s “Out Loud,” Muni Long’s “Another” doesn’t mistake conflict for confrontation. Instead, it presents competition as a catalyst to move the relationship forward. Throughout the verses of her latest single, Long makes it clear to her partner that the only other man she’s interested in is the best version of himself.
You wasn’t focused, so focus
I was with you through whatever but we gotta elevate
You should want better, I love you, don’t always mean forever
Don’t you know I’m pressure, baby?
These other niggas want you out the picture
They want me, ready to commit to all my needs
I wanna stick it out with you
I’m gonna break it down for you
I hope you listening
Ain’t gon’ say it again
With the chorus of “Another” being that aforementioned refrain—“What one ni**a won’t do, another ni**a gon’ do/ I’m putting you on notice/ Another ni**a bought me roses”—the rest of the song sounds like an angelically sung freestyle rap. There’s a frankness to Long’s stream of consciousness that feels extremely Hip-Hop. Because sometimes that’s how you have to talk to these ni**as.
The opening lines of the verse contain a loving sternness that’s occasionally needed to snap someone out of complacency. Long’s partner isn’t as focused on her as he should be, and his absent-mindedness is threatening their relationship. What’s encouraging about the lyrics that follow is they frame this flaw as an opportunity for growth rather than a reason to end things altogether. Though there are subtle hints indicating the latter is a possibility, it’s clear Long’s frustration hasn’t escalated past the point of reconciliation, and certainly not past the point of love.
Even as she notes other men are “ready to commit to all [her] needs,” she begins to lay out a playbook for how her partner can step his game up. Because, at the end of the day, all she really needs is him.
This is what I want
I just want more love
I want you to kiss on me and touch on me and rub
I want trips around the world
Going somewhere every weekend
‘Cause I love the time that we spend together
Tired of dropping hints
Sh*t don’t make no sense
I’m telling you
Another ni**a gon’ do whatever I want him to
With the problem stated in verse one, the solutions that Long propose in verse two sound noticeably similar to the small acts of love she gushes over in “Hrs and Hrs.” Requesting quality time, physical yet not exclusively sexual touch, and sincere attentiveness, the singer’s list of demands could qualify “Another” as a companion piece to “Hrs and Hrs.” An optimistic outlook suggests the former is a prelude to the latter, not the other way around.
As Long sings, “I want trips around the world/ Going somewhere every weekend/ ‘Cause I love the time that we spend together,” the song seems to be written from the perspective of a person who hasn’t yet manifested the bliss found in “Hrs and Hrs” but knows it’s well within reach. Sometimes grasping it just takes a not-so-gentle reminder.
I’m telling you they want me
While you out here playing, they ain’t playing, don’t you see?
They wanna give me money, Richard Mille, Patek Phillipe
One after another
Don’t wanna fall for another
Don’t wanna tell you another
Don’t wanna argue another
Don’t wanna cry for another
No, ooh-woah, no, no, no
Go try that shit with another
Ni**a, don’t call me another
What’s brilliant about “Another,” if it truly is a companion piece to “Hrs and Hrs,” is the way it juxtaposes the time and affection that’s obviously important to Long with the sorts of financial flexes she couldn’t care less about. While the song’s third verse finds her flaunting potential gifts from other men, and its chorus notes the roses she’s already received from a recent admirer, the singer-songwriter disclosed to me in real life just how little she’s impressed by such gestures.
“I went on maybe five dates my whole life—and I hated all of them,” Long said in our February interview. “[They] were terrible. Horrible. Every date I went on, I hated. Before I met my husband. I’d be like, ‘I’m bored. I’m ready to go home.’”
“I’m just very intellectual, and I want somebody who can stimulate me mentally. And the guys that were trying to take me out were just very shallow. They were buying me flowers and stuff. I just didn’t want it. I was like, ‘Ugh. This is so… I hate this’ [laughs].”
The love that Long eventually found with her husband satisfied her higher needs. When I asked what advice she had for people seeking a similar sort of bond, she replied, “It just depends on the person you’re with and your willingness to forgive and start over, have compassion, not be a quitter—unconditional love. It’s a lot of things. A lot of elements. It’s definitely not easy to share space with somebody, but I think it’s beautiful when you figure it out.”
As this column continues to champion songs rooted in finding and cherishing love, Muni Long is appreciated for dropping yet “another” Yellow Diamond for us hopeful (never hopeless) R&B romantics.