By Sydney Turner
As a Black woman, I often feel like “too much,” and it’s not that I think this way; I’ve also been told this. I’ve been told this by romantic prospects, teachers, jobs, family, “friends,” etc. I spent a good part of my life trying to tone myself down, trying to be less because they could not handle more. Whenever a rejection would come my way, I would wonder what I did that was “too much” and how I could fix it. I became obsessed with becoming less so that others would accept me, and honestly, it’s never worked.
The way I felt like too much changed when I dove deeper into Chloe x Halle’s discography. I had already been following the duo’s music since their debut album “The Kids Are Alright,” but like a lot of the world, they blew away and captivated me with their sophomore album “The Ungodly Hour.” After what was probably my 1000th listen to the album, I looked more into the duo’s history as I wanted to learn more about them. Like many, I knew they were Beyoncé’s protégés, what I did not realize was how many nos they had received before Beyoncé. Before the ladies were signed to Beyoncé’s label, Parkwood Entertainment, they were told their music was “too complex for the average ear.” I thought it was interesting that it was another Black woman, Beyoncé, who told them “not to conform themselves to the world, but to let the world catch up to us.” Chloe and Halle remark on that advice, saying that they changed nothing about their sound or musical style for anybody else, especially after Queen B’s approval. Beyoncé proved to be right as the world is catching up; Chloe and Halle bring something refreshingly new and comfortingly familiar to R&B, creating something truly timeless.
Now for the rest of us that aren’t Beyoncé’s proteges (yet), I think there is still a lesson to learn from Chloe and Halle sticking to their sound even when it was too complex or “too much.” This lesson is best shown throughout their discography through their lyrics, “Simple” from “The Two of Us,” “I’m not gonna dumb down my mind for you,” “Baptize (Interlude)” from “The Kids Are Alright” “I won’t change for you,” and “Forgive Me” from “The Ungodly Hour” “So forgive me, no, not really. Best believe I’ll move onto better things”. All Black women should take a page out of Chloe and Halle’s book. As Black women, we are quick to question ourselves and do better instead of challenging others. We try to mold ourselves into what others want and to shrink ourselves to be less. Instead, we should ask, are we too much or is everybody else not enough? Are we intimidating, or are others easily intimidated? Are we too complex, or are others too simple? Personally, I am still working on this; it is hard to believe in myself enough to know that I’ll never be too much for someone or something worthy of me. But thanks to Chloe and Halle, I have started to stop dumbing myself down for people and opportunities that don’t appreciate my complexity. I think all Black women should follow in their footsteps, and if we are “too much” to digest, they can choke.
Sydney Turner is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Sydney believes in the power of Black women of every background and is invested in bringing attention to our unique perspective on important topics. You can follow Sydney on instagram @syd_pie11.