Although it is the title of her award-winning 2000 debut, nowadays the last question you want to ask Philly's R&B "it" Girl is Who Is Jill Scott?
"People ask me that all the time when I first meet them, and it really gets on my nerves," Scott grumbled. "To be honest, sometimes it makes me want to hang up the phone!"
Despite the serene, soulful vibe the singer gives off in most of her music, you don't want to get on Scott's bad side. If pushed, she just might flash back to her younger days and be tempted to whoop your ass right there on the spot.
"I've done a lot of fighting in my time, and I'm down to do some more," the Grammy-nominated artist said, reflecting on growing up in the projects of North Philadelphia. "I don't want to, but you know, there's just certain things that you can't sit down and take. I'm better with my tongue now than I used to be. Before, it would just take a few words and fists were flying."
Fortunately for fans, Scott has better things to do with her time these days than serve knuckle sandwiches. Having just dropped her second studio album, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2., which debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 this month, the self-described "street girl" is too busy enjoying herself: She recently shed 35 pounds, married her longtime sweetie, Lyzel, and fulfilled a lifelong dream, opening a concert for the Great Purple One in her hometown.
"I am a huge Prince fan," Scott said giddily over the phone from downtown Los Angeles, where she was shooting the video for the follow-up to her first single, "Golden," a shiny, infectious tune about living life to the fullest. "It's a very rare thing for him to have people open for him. It's been the Time and Sheila E., and that's about it. Building a relationship with him has been like a dream come true. I've been looking for a mentor, and I feel like I have that in him." Scott, who's been busy penning a forthcoming book of poetry titled "The Minutes, the Moments, the Hours," says that other collaborations with Prince may be in the works. "We've been talking about doing a few things together. I have something for him to do, and I think he has a few things for me to do, too. I'm really excited about what the future holds."
Like many of the most personal songs on the singer's often poignant and mellifluous new offering, the second single, "Whatever," is inspired by Scott's muse, her co-manager and husband of the past two years. "Not to sound arrogant, but Lyzel and I know that we are in some ways a beacon for folks who don't believe in love anymore," Scott said. "He is my soul mate, my equal, and I wish everyone could have that.
"The video for 'Whatever' is kind of a documentary in a way," she continued. "It's showing that love can last. Not just in your early 20s or your late 30s, but in your 50s, 60s and 70s. There's an awful myth out there that when you get married, love and lovemaking fade. It's not true. When you're really in love with somebody, the experience is far more superior than a thousand shags and a thousand funky hotel rooms. It's magic. You know, you don't need a lot of chocolate to know how good it is."
The clip, shot by director Lenny Bass (Nappy Roots, Craig David), takes place in a 150-year-old mansion in downtown L.A. "The video is so pretty," the singer said. "It's very colorful. The character is there with her husband, and basically, we're showing how they progress in their lives together from about age 30 to 65. The video showcases a part of the black family that you just don't see enough of. There are black marriages that are still going strong 40 years later. You hear so many myths that there aren't any people making it, but there are. As long as there are some, there's hope."
The voluptuous Scott, who plans to embark on her own "Big and Beautiful" tour next year, is perhaps the strongest testament to the hope she sings about in her music. Although she's now blissfully married, Scott says her deeply intimate lyrics are probably the reason why so many fans approach her on the street and tell her their relationship woes. Listening intently and sometimes crying along with them, Scott says she feels their pain and frustration deeply because she once walked in their shoes.
"Heartbreak was the impetus to me writing poems and music in the first place," she explained. "Over the years I had my heart broken so badly that if I didn't find a way to get all the pain out, I was going to lose my mind. I was crazy! Like, wanting to slash tires and smash car windows. Crazy! I was so hurt that I had to write. Then I went to poetry readings and shared my work, and it was like, damn, people really understand where I'm coming from. I was like, OK, this is not only for myself, it's for other people, too. Fortunately a lot of those painful days are behind me. When I'm going through something, I've learned to nurture myself, and I stay surrounded by people who love me. Now I can definitely say I'm living one of the best periods of my life."