Summer Walker made it clear that her newest project was for her OG fans and she kept her promise by going back to her roots of neo-soul. Clear 2: Soft Life arrived on Friday (May 20), with guest appearances from J. Cole and Childish Gambino. Alongside the rapper assists, Clear 2 features production from Solange, Steve Lacy, and John Kirby.
The singer has been very vocal about how she was snubbed at the 2023 Grammys for her 2021 LP Still Over It despite debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
“Thanks for all the overflowing love in my dm’s… & as for the grammys for a 2nd time, the math is literally not mathing…,” Walker wrote on her Instagram Story at the time. “I was gone post some numbers but it’s ok, atleast the streets fuq with me. y’all always pack out every show & support everytime I drop so thanks for the love I do receive.”
The following week after 2023 Grammy nominations, Summer teased what now is Clear 2: Soft Life.
“Now that I know these award shows gone play me [regardless] ima go back to making the soul music I love. EP coming soon.”
At the time, Still Over It was the first No. 1 R&B album by a woman since Beyoncé’s Lemonade in 2016 to debut atop the chart. SZA’s SOS preceded Walker’s Still Over It when it debuted at No. 1 in December 2022 where it stayed for 10 nonconsecutive weeks.
Summer is transparent in her demands from a future partner and most importantly herself on Clear 2: Soft Life which is the focal point of her latest offering. The nine-track EP starts off with J. Cole celebrating Walker on the birth of her twins and how she balances it all on “To Summer, From Cole.” On that track, Cole also shares what’s in the works for him, which is supposedly the last album of his career titled The Fall Off.
They sit around waiting’ for you to fall off/Like the album I’m makin’, Cole raps.
While you hear Summer softly sing “Call me when you need some love” in the intro and outro of “To Summer, From Cole,” “Hard Life” is where you get to witness Summer take the reins as she ushers in her project. Throughout Clear 2, Summer speaks on wanting an easier life, a “soft life” if you wish and “Hardlife” is just the beginning of the songstress explaining her feelings. Two lyrics drive her point home on record as she sings, “You say you want me soft/ But give me a hard life.” Later in the song, she compares her struggles to women of other races. In Summer’s perspective, these women have it easier than Black women in regards to love and comfort in well-being.
“Tired of seeing all these/All these (all these)/Spanish and these white b*tches/Living they soft life/With they feet kicked up/And they glass in hand/Bills is paid, thanks to the man.”
In the third track, “How Does It Feel,” she sings about being treated like an option and not a priority when it comes to love. The singer also calls out her partner for being sneaky by “clearing the names” from his recent call log.
“You think you’re safe with your secrets/ Clearing the names from your recents.”
Summer also gives a nod to Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” in a later lyric on the track.
“Gaslight and swear you on defense/When I’m ten steps ahead, all your sh*t to the left.”
“Mind Your Mouth” and “Pull Up” are the fourth and fifth track off the EP respectively and that’s where Summer reveals a push and pull with her thoughts on what she wants. In the former track, Summer is very direct in what she wants out of a partner.
“Wanna lay with me then you gon’ be a real man/ Not a real n*gga.”
In, “Pull Up”, which is accompanied by a visual showing Summer leaving her apartment after she cooked her man dinner and leaves out to meet another man (in real life Summer is dating actor Lil Meech who is the man waiting in the car for her outside). She puts herself in the position to potentially fall back into her old pattern.
“Can’t let you hurt me again, oh/No, no, no, no, no, no/No, no, no, no, no, no.”
In “New Type,” Summer channels her inner Erykah Badu who is seemingly influenced throughout the project but especially on this track. In one line she mentions Badu’s 1997 hit “Tyrone.”
“F*cking ’round with me, you gon’ end up on your own/Have your stuff out on the street, won’t you go and call Tyrone-rone?”
The record was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards.
In the last two lyrical tracks, “Finding Peace” and “Set Up (2017),” Summer concludes that she is right where she wants to be.
“If I gotta choose between you or me/ It’s me” she sings in “Finding Peace.” She stands on that same ground with a more secure outlook on “Set Up (2017): “But I know when I’m done, I’ll get what I want.“
The singer didn’t clarify the significance of the (2017) in the title of “Set Up.” It could be interpreted as just the year she penned the lyrics or as coming from a place of manifestation for the future.
In “Agayu’s Revelation,” the R&B crooner reflects on what has led her to this point. One of the themes presented in Clear 2 was letting go and how the damage of holding on can have detrimental effects. While Summer admitted that her familial relationships and friendships don’t affect her as much if someone were to switch up, romantic relationships have the opposite effect on her.
“You know the dick do something a little different to you, it make you wanna try to help a n*gga. Make you think you got superpowers and sh*t and can change a n*gga, you cannot,” she says. “But I used to think for a long time and that affected my self-esteem as well, like, that it was me. Like, that it was my fault and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, what am I doing to these n*ggas? This is crazy, every single time.’”
“Then one of my spiritual guides came to me and I will never forget. Told me to stop workin’ with people who are made of glass if you are made of steel, and that sh*t hit me.”
FINAL THOUGHTS :
Clear 2 takes you on a journey of celebration, self-love, and demand. Throughout the project, Summer reflects on how she wants a soft life and while she doesn’t have a clear solution on how to obtain this, she knows its something that can be attainable. Summer also notes that getting rid of dead weight will be apart of her soultion. While this project has been a wake-up call for her, the realistic elements of potentially slipping back into old habits on “Pull Up” she shows how progression like healing is not linear. She leaves this project knowing that when she’s done, she’ll get what she wants.
Overall rating: 9/10
- Call me when you need some love – “To Summer, From Cole”
- You say you want me soft/ But give me a hard life – “Hardlife”
- You treat my love like an option (love like)/ Bet on these hoes like an auction (an option) – “How Does It Feel”
- You think you’re safe with your secrets/ Clearing the names from your recents – “How Does It Feel”
- Wanna lay with me then you gon’ be a real man/ Not a real n*gga – “Mind Your Mouth”
- Telling me to surrender my body, my mental/ It’s too much – “Pull Up”
- Fucking ’round with me, you gon’ end up on your own/Have your stuff out on the street, won’t you go and call Tyrone-rone? – “New Type”
- Losing people, finding peace – “Finding Peace’
- If I gotta choose between you or me/ It’s me – “Finding Peace”
- Loving me is good for my health – “Finding Peace”
- But I know when I’m done, I’ll get what I want – “Set Up (2017)”
5 Tracks We Running Back :
- “To Summer, From Cole”
- “How Does It Feel”
- “Mind Yo Mouth”
- “Finding Peace”
- “Set Up (2017)”
Full Tracklist :
- “To Summer, From Cole (Audio Hug)”
- “Hard Life”
- “How Does It Feel”
- “Mind Yo Mouth”
- “Pull Up”
- “New Type” feat. Childish Gambino
- “Finding Peace”
- “Set Up (2017)”
- “Agayu’s Revelation”
Take a look at Lowkey R&B’s Kevin Rawls and Kevin Walker’s first-listen reaction video: