Tank and The Bangas Introduced Me to the Taste of Love

If I were to be asked what love looks like I might possibly attest to seeing it in an embrace, an exchange of banter and laughter, the joy of a couple learning they’re pregnant after living for years with infertility, or a strong but gentle hand placed on the small of a woman’s back.  I have witnessed love.  But before listening to New Orleans’ artists Tank and The Bangas I had never tasted love.  To taste love I  had to first hear it.  Listen to it carefully. Repeat.

It was the whispers of small nothings in my ear, the percussions and the melodies that travel to my prefrontal cortex to retire, indefinitely, to my long-term memory each time I hear a song that bookmarks the milestones in my life.  It’s the melodies and the memories that guide me to the exact place I stood in the gymnasium at a high school dance when I heard Tyrese’s “Sweet Lady,” or the smile on my face as I laid beneath a dozen glow-in-the-dark stars when  Selena’s “Dreaming of You” was dedicated to me on the radio.  Or the tears I cried listening to Lauryn Hill’s “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind” while silently talking myself into moving on in the face of defeat.  That’s been my experience with love.


Love tastes bitter. It tastes juicy and lush.  Sometimes so spicy that it makes my eyes water uncontrollably. And so sweet that it dissolves on my tongue like cotton candy; but famine isn’t relieved by cotton candy. Love is as unpredictable as the sampling of strangers’ macaroni and cheese or potato salad at a friend’s fish fry. Love’s aftertaste is a reminder to be more thoughtful in your selections or to never try it again, lest the chef adds just the right seasoning, the perfect wine pairing, and the declaration of “satisfaction guaranteed.”


But I am charmed by what I hear—the sweet nothings, the melodies turned memories, turned nostalgia, turned escapism, turned false reality. What I hear is what I eternalize and house in the safeguards of my memory, beside foregone days and nights when Love ate with me over breakfast in bed and dinner and drinks when the going was easy and the food suited my palate. Even when I’m alone I set a table for two so that love can pull up a chair should hunger strike at any time between the blessing of the meal and the last dish is set out to dry.  I dine on oysters and sip lemon drops in honor of Love. But love isn’t sustained on a memory, in the same way that cotton candy doesn’t cure a grumbling stomach or an insatiable appetite. Damn if cotton candy and memories don’t taste good though.

Love can taste like edibles you devour when you’re so hungry that even your least favorite food tastes delicious. Desperately longing to give and receive love is like grocery shopping on an empty stomach: every aisle offers one seemingly delectable treat after another.  Even the eggplant you’ve never quite learned to prepare appears to be a good purchase.  You think a new eggplant dish has the potential to be the star of Sunday’s dinner. You scan your Pinterest recipe mentally confirming that you have all of the necessary ingredients to make a wonderful  eggplant parmesan only to realize on Sunday morning that you forgot to add to your grocery cart the virgin olive oil. You substitute the olive oil for margarine. It doesn’t taste the same. One missing ingredient can make all the difference between  disgusting, tolerable, and great. 

Love tastes like that.  

And it sounds to me like: …the butterflies and the fireflies fighting in my stomach. I’m scared to fly. I might come down. I think I’m ready now. I’m getting back in line.”

Thank you to Tank and The Bangas for their amazing artistry.  It was their art that served as the inspiration for this post and as a reminder that sound and sight are gateways to taste. ~Andrea

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My thoughts on D∆WN’s ‘Redemption’ album, which just dropped and is already on REPEAT

Years ago, I used to write music reviews and share them with friends and co-workers. But a strange thing happened: I started writing for a living and my quirky, humorous reviews came to a halt. Crazy, right? Well, the release of D∆WN’s Redemption album has reignited a flame within me that’s been dormant for too long. As I write this, I am currently sitting (sometimes standing) on my couch, blasting the stream of Richard’s “Renegades” through my TV. It’s loud AF because I cannot contain how much I love it and I don’t care who knows it. Not even folks who can see me dancing like a madwoman when I play it while I’m driving, but more on that later…

When I first heard Redemption last week on NPR, I instantly fell in love with it and knew I had to have it come Nov. 18 when it officially goes on sale (which is today, but I already pre-ordered). I listened while working, and accomplishing my tasks while jamming to Richard’s moving melodies made for the sweetest struggle ever.

So, here’s my personal review of Redemption. Needless to say, the entirety of the album is LIT, but I simply highlighted my faves along with a brief summation of Richard’s sonic slayage. Redemption (Intro): DAMMIT, I’M HOOKED ALREADY. It reminds me of a fantasy movie, like this scene out of The Neverending Story where Atreyu came face to face with Bastian at the Magic Mirror gate:

Love Under Lights: This song finds Dawn singing about a woman who is 5’10″/lookin’ real good in her skin/I think her shirt said Zeppelin/boots up to her ass, man,” and then the next verse, she’s eyeing a guy who is also a prospect for some “temporary lovin’.” It’s a pretty clever way to highlight sexuality as a theme. And once again, the beats are BOMB.

LA: This laid-back tune is something you can ride to in deep, contemplative thought. Just when I finally grasped the lyric, “We thought we was above it all ‘cause we’ve been friends since Wayne was a Hot Boy,” the the instruments take over at the 2:00 minute-mark and veer off into New Orleans jazz band territory with a Trombone Shorty feature, and I willingly go with it.

Renegades: I don’t know how I manage to drive listening to this song because this is literally me behind the wheel, only I dance harder:

Then when the beat drops at 3:09, it’s like the spirit takes me OVER and who TF is driving my car ’cause it sure ain’t me:

IF IT ISN’T OBVIOUS, THIS IS MY FAVORITE REDEMPTION SONG…On a more intellectual note, anyone else notice how the lyrics paint a picture of someone who wants to run away with a rebel, presumably towards freedom, yet the enunciation of “Renegades” is so tight and restricted? I need to know if that juxtaposition was intentional or just a sign that I got way too buzzed while listening to this.

Vines (interlude): OK so I see she doing this shit again. Just like I needed A Tell Tale Heart‘s “Vibrate” to be longer and BlackHeart’s “Titans” to be a full-length ass song, I’M TOO DOPE TO WALK THIS EARTH WITHOUT A FULL VERSION OF VINES, DAWN! Thx in advance!

The Louvre: Undeniably soul-stirring. The opening with the strings makes me wanna ugly cry even when I don’t have a damn thing to be sad about. But like redemption, the 3:00-mark will uplift you and have you standing on a roof, fully believing you can jump off and fly.

A photo posted by D∆WN (@dawnrichard) on

Valhalla (Outro) – EFFIN’ LOVE THIS. Why are Dawn’s interludes more lyrically and sonically superior than anything I hear on any random radio station?!

So, from start to finish, Redemption is a beautiful album. Dare I say it’s Dawn’s best one yet?  I just wish there were more SONGS because, ugh, it’s just too good to be a mere 47 minutes long. While I’m sad to see the Hearts trilogy come to an end, I know I won’t stop listening to any of the previous Heart albums anytime soon.

Oh, and I cannot WAIT to see her perform “Renegades” live.



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