Summer Walker’s sophomore album, Still Over It, is an honest, rallying cry for us to learn from her mistakes when navigating relationships. The R&B singer-songwriter leans into her strength and taps into her self-awareness and discernment, while lyrically painting a picture of the rollercoaster ride one endures when dealing with toxic relationships.
“You don’t have to guess if something is love. Love is shown through actions,” Walker explains via Apple Music. “Stop making excuses for people who don’t show up for you. Don’t ignore the red flags. And don’t think you have to stay somewhere ‘cause you can’t find better — you can and you will. Don’t settle for less — you don’t deserve it and neither does your family.”
Walker’s 20-track album feels like a diary—she doesn’t hold back sharing vignettes of her highs and lows of life. In Still Over It, you’ll hear the emotions surrounding being your best motivator, stunting on haters, choosing to drown in toxicity with your partner, knowing when to walk away, and more.
Sonically, it’s clear Walker is inspired by the greats of Y2K R&B including newly-minted Walk of Fame inductee Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Erykah Badu, and Avant. You’ll hear the homage be paid through the production, the sampling, and interpolation, as well as through the mood she sets throughout the album. The interludes from Cardi B and the prayer from Ciara exemplify what it looks like when your girls show up for you when you need them the most.
We’ve witnessed her tumultuous relationship with her ex London on da Track, and father of her first child, when Walker would vent about the drama of his infidelity and the mothers of his other children. Walker ironically chronicles her learnings on tracks he produced — ultimately speaking her truth in the face of shame.
There are numerous and recurring relationship red flags Walker reminds us of in Still Over It that we should pay close attention to. We’ve pulled examples from deconstructing five of the songs from the album.
Check them out below.
“Throw It Away” exemplifies the emotional manipulation one experiences when being gaslit by their partner. Gaslighting, as Vox explains, “refers to the act of undermining another person’s reality by denying facts, the environment around them, or their feelings."
In the pre-chorus, you’ll hear what the impact being convinced that your valid feelings and concerns are not real can have on your mental and physical being.
“I've been takin’ on all this baggage
Addin’ so much weight
Had me thinkin’ that I was average
When you’re really to blame”
The second verse calls the partner on their bluff and mentions the (unfortunate) unhealthy process of self-blame. Summer seems to be processing how much dishonesty she put up during a past relationship.
“Actin' likе this ain't mean nothin' to you, is you dumb?
Frontin' like you not, n***a, I'll be gone
('Cause right now I see) You only 'bout yourself
(Keep that same energy) When I find somebody else, so why?
Why I put up with this? Why did I even try?
You said you'd hold me down forever, but you lied to me, lied to me
You gotta be mental in the head”
In the opening verse of “You Don’t Know Me,” we’re hit with a significant red flag that can destroy relationships if not addressed early — miscommunication.
Summer is talking about how there can be misunderstandings and how partners should be willing to listen to each other.
“We lost in translation
I'm honestly runnin' out of patience
Communication just don't seem to work
You've got it all figured out in your head
And you in denial 'bout all that sh*t that you be sayin'
I'm tryna help us if you just listen to what I need
I can't tell you when, but now we don't have everything”
In the pre-chorus and chorus, Summer reflects on how painful it can be when you've invested in a relationship and the other person doesn’t put forth that same level of effort.
“It's been two years, we got some kids
We been through hella sh*t
Travelled the world, ran up the bag
We done it all and that's why it's sad that
You don’t know me (x3)
Like I know you”
“Closure” is a storyboard of the endless cycle of toxicity partners can find themselves in.
Summer says it plainly in the chorus — she can’t get enough even though she’s aware getting closure would benefit her best.
“Every time I need closure, closure
Mess around and get closer to you
Don't you make me feel hungover
Gotta get, get, get sober or I can't feel nothing
Why you gotta hang your love over my head like that?
Why'd you do it, baby?
I'm just tryna gеt closure, closure
Just tryna get closurе from you”
The second verse's lyrics reflect vulnerability and honesty about how a toxic relationship can impact mental health. The songstress again emphasizes and chronicles the tug of war that can happen when you need to leave a situation that no longer serves you.
“You know I'm a month depressed
I'm the one that knows you best
Cut it off, say okay
Bet I won't, you say wait
I say n*gga, you say b*tch
You say sorry, then we kiss
Runnin' 'round and 'round, I don't understand how
How the goodbyes at the store runs, your sweet texts
Confirmations, confirmations, read the news break
Six up on news days
Still lookin' for new ways”
4. Turning a Blind Eye
Consciously or unconsciously ignoring relationship red flags is, in itself, a red flag. “Broken Promises” encompasses what it feels like when you are constantly being let down by someone who is all talk and how you can come to regret not listening to close confidants who tried to warn you. It is hard to deny the pain expressed in Summer’s delivery of the song.
“Say what you mean
Do what you say
I don't wanna be sold another piece of your dream
So take it, save it
Put it back, f**k it, erase it
I just don't know how I can take it
'Cause my heart is breakin'
I've been mistaken
You're not the man I thought you were
And they tried to warn me
Yeah, they tried to warn me”
The chorus is the same message of not having a partner who would "step up" and live up to the promises made. But she ultimately should have taken heed.
“You can't tell me nothing 'bout my man
I would never take they words 'gainst yours
I rather let you make your promise
You can't tell me nothing 'bout my man
Said you would step up, said you was ready
But I should've listened”
5. Cheating and Dishonesty
“4th Baby Mama” is the last and arguably the most vulnerable we hear Summer be on the album before we’re greeted with the closing track, “Ciara’s Prayer.” The intro is a sample from Prolyfe’s 2000 break-up ballad, “Liar,” and sets the stage for Summer to express that enough is enough.
She’s explicit about coming to terms with her relationship and how it had not lived up to her expectations. Jumping to the third verse, she checks him on his inconsistent stories, where he seemingly uses excuses to abandon her when she needs him the most.
“Tellin' people that I'm your queen
But all you mean is just of R&B
I know you ain't care 'cause you always gone
How could you make me spend my whole f**king pregnancy alone?
And where was you at? 'Cause you claim you at work
But them other n****s said they made the beats, so how that add up?
Probably was with your baby mamas, one through three
You claim that you had a ring for me, you was probably out f**kin' hoes”
The chorus continues to emphasize her realization that what she had is not what she thought it was.
What was you tellin' them?
And what was you tellin' me?
Why would you do all that
Just to be sellin' dreams?
Ain't even pullin' through
You just be talkin’"
Still Over It’s replay value lies in Summer Walker’s willingness to let us into her growing pains of finding herself and finding comfort in knowing that she deserves better.
The through-line remains that as much as love, lust, and what-ifs can fog reality, paying attention to red flags is important for relationships with others and with yourself.
Antoinette Isama is a multimedia culture journalist documenting the global African diaspora. Follow her @AntoinetteIsama.