Fans and R&B aficionados can finally rejoice: Grammy-nominated artist Summer Walker has finally released her long-awaited CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE EP. This nine-track project is a follow up to her CLEAR EP which was released before her debut album Over It. It features verses from J.Cole and Childish Gambino and includes production from Solange and Steve Lacy.
This sultry EP explores the topic of a “soft life”, a term popularized through social media trends, although originally coined by Nigerian women. A “soft life”, at its core, refers to a way of life that focuses on prioritizing oneself and “being audacious enough to believe you deserve better”. Walker’s natural vocals and acoustics provided the perfect harmony and helped set the vibe of the EP. Per usual, she displays raw emotions speaking from deeply personal experiences following previous highly publicized relationships. Her lyricism is a true testament to her artistry.
The R&B songstress starts the EP strong with a Cole feature in “To Summer, From Cole – Audio Hug”. Summer’s vocals are in the back singing “call me if you need some love”. J.Cole uses this track as an opportunity to sing her praises and give her the flowers she deserves for all she’s accomplished. He reassures her that, despite all obstacles, she has prevailed and should take time to bask in the moment, soaking everything up. He congratulates her on her babies (she recently welcomed twins into the world) and praises her for being able to juggle her ever-growing career, touring, and expanding family. Cole gives her this verse as a digital reminder to keep pushing and to reach out if she ever needs anything. You can sense his appreciation for her craft. It is a very intimate and beautiful track.
In the second song, “Hardlife”, she expresses how her life is actually the opposite of what she desires. The men in her life have caused her much pain and strife, although they claim they want her to have a soft life, “what have you asked of me, you say you want me soft but give me a hard life”, Walker exclaims. As stated earlier, Summer has been very open about her relationships and being a single mother. She longs for a relationship with no pain and a man to lead like she observes in other cultures. At the end you hear her stating “me and my women who like me… me and all my Black queens when will we get what we need?”
The second track is followed up nicely with “How Does It Feel.” She uses this track to question her previous romantic partners about the decisions they made regarding her love. Walker often feels like an option in their lives instead of a priority. She asks them how it will feel in the end, when they have finally and truly lost her.
The next three songs (“Mind Yo Mouth”, “Pull Up” and “New Type”) examine the kind of men she attracts, mostly of the type who lack ambition and emotional intelligence. (“Wanna be with me then you gon’ get up off your bottom / Wanna lay with me then you gon’ be a real man.”) She closes the thought out with “New Type” proclaiming, as the title states, that she has a new type. She will no longer succumb to the antics of men she feels are not worthy of her time. There are men blowing up her phone but she’s not answering anymore. Here, she reflects on some of the stuff she had to deal with, “Swear ‘fore God I never wanna see another / Arguing on the phone with your ugly baby mother / Sleeping on the couch of the house of your mother / You can’t live with me so won’t you try and find another?”
The EP closes out with “Agayu’s Revelation”. Walker spends about four minutes speaking and reflecting on her relationships. She talks about her spiritual journey and how her experiences have helped shape her. She believed she was making the men around her crumble, until she got great advice from a spiritual guide, “stop working with people who are made of glass, if you feel you are made of steel”. The revelation is made that maybe she is not as bad as she thought but that she spent too much time engaged with men who were not ready to be in a relationship and give her what she needs.
Truthfully, this EP exceeded my expectations and I’m looking forward to her next album.
Taijahnai Scott is a student at the University of Georgia studying Marketing and Music Business with hopes of finding a job in music marketing post grad. Growing up she always had a deep love and cultural connection to music, especially Hip-Hop/Rap, Pop, R&B and NeoSoul. She is fascinated with all things music including the business aspect of it. She hopes to bring her opinions to the Athens music scene and expanding her tastes.