Ever since the SWV versus Xscape Verzuz was announced, my soul has been awash with joy and good tidings and cheer. I love SWV. I’m an SWV-stan. An SWV-apologist. I’m an SWV-superfan. I love Coko’s singing and will fight with anybody about her place in the pantheon of R&B singers. She’s in my top 10 and I can’t even tell you who the other folks are because it doesn’t matter, Coko is there. There are no bad things to say about SWV, there are just things unsaid because my mama told me that if I don’t have anything nice to say, to not say anything at all. But SWV doesn’t make me want to say not nice things, they make me want to love and hug up on things.
(Oh, and for the record, SWV is going to WASH Xscape. And I love Xscape, but I think SWV would wash any and every girl group from the ‘90s-plus. That includes TLC, Xscape, Kut Klose, Jade, Brownstone, etc. It’s not personal; Xscape and SWV’s jams were just too good.)
For instance, did you know there are 17 whole-ass records on their 1996 sophomore album New Beginnings? I did not and I’d bet you didn’t either. I literally can only name two, “You’re The One” and “Use Your Heart.” But that’s okay because those two songs are so gotdamn good that they could have released it with just those two and it would be as good an album. Anyway, I jokingly tend to refer to SWV as queens of the “Cheat Jam.”
What is a cheat jam? Well, it’s a song that jams so hard about cheating. And look, there are a lot of songs about cheating in the ether. It’s pretty much a genre unto itself. Well, SWV’s entries into that space are some of the best. There are two in particular in “I’m So Into You,” a song so damn happy and singable and danceable that most folks probably don’t even realize it’s a cheat jam. They’re really good at making a cheat jam that doesn’t feel like a cheat jam.
Such is the story with the song we’re talking about today. Please turn your Cheatles to “New Beginnings, Track 2,” the first-ballot Hall of Fame Cheat Jam that is “You’re The One.” This disrespectful-so-good ass song drips with ain’tshitness that I’ll bet it’s Derrick Jaxn’s favorite song. I wouldn’t even be mad at him if it was, it’s so good.
Even this video is a gotcha gotcha. Their vocal melodies are so sweet that if you just watch the video and sing along without thinking you might be like, “oh it’s a song about playing SWV video games in 90s sweater vests and bandanas.” I need to say this again, Coko’s voice is so damn good, yo.
Anyway, “You’re The One” is one disrespectful ass song, and it makes no bones about it. Coko comes out the gate SWINGING with “I know that you’re somebody else’s guy...” Contrast that with a song like Teedra Moses banger “Be Your Girl,” where she coyly mentions, “don’t know if you got a girl, don’t mean no disrespect...”
Heh. So let’s check out some lyrics, shall we? First verse.
I know that you’re somebody else’s guy
But these feelings that I have for you
I can’t deny
She doesn’t treat you the way you want her to
So come on
I wanna get with you
What your girl don’t know
Won’t hurt her
Anything to make this love go further
What have we learned here? Coko don’t care. Coko don’t give a shit. Coko is a honeybadger. She’s acknowledging he’s taken, then shitting on the girlfriend (or wife), telling him to stop being a bitch about it (“have an affair, act like an adult for once” much?) and letting him know that his girl will be fine since she doesn’t really need to know. That’s a whole lot of triflin’ packed into one verse.
Now the key to a solid cheat jam is smoke-and-mirrors. The hook for “You’re The One” is entirely smoke-and-mirrors. The hook sounds like standard-issue love song stuff about a person you love, and they know we mostly just sing hooks. Smart money, SWV, smart money.
You’re the one
(You’re the one for me)
When in need
(You can call on me)
When in love
(Is all I want us to be)
Cause you’re the one
(You’re the one for me)
But fret not, they also come through with a second verse for your pearl clutchin’.
This can be an undercover romance
Cause I feel that I’m the type of girl
You should give a chance
Taste and see
(Taste and see)
How good it can be
(How good it can be)
Cause you don’t have to worry, baby
What your girl don’t know won’t hurt her
(Won’t hurt her)
Anything to make this love go further
This go around, Coko doubles down on “what your girl don’t know won’t hurt her.” She’s like, “bro...nobody has to know. You heard Atlantic Starr’s ‘Secret Lovers?’ That’s us!” Then she’s like, come on, just try me out right quick, come and get this good lovin’ and let’s get this thing movin’. It’s important to note the “anything to make this love go further” line really is extra trife. It’s basically dude talk; “I’ll say whatever it takes to get in them drawz...what you need? We good.” Trife life.
And the bridge is really where drop the Big and Little joker.
So what’s my chance
(I’m willing to do anything to get)
In your pants
(You don’t have to worry, I won’t)
Say a thing
(And if she finds out, I don’t)
Know nothing, oh no
Coko is like, “look fam, I’ve said all I can say, what’s the likelihood we gon’ do this.” She is willing to do anything some of that wang-action and is not shy about it. Who cares whose wang it is, she wants it and she’s willing to get to the gettin’ to. And THEN she gives him an insurance policy: not only will I not say anything, if your girl finds out (or more than likely suspects) her lips are sealed. Buddy, she wants that thang it’s a free ride on the Coko-slide, and all her triflin’ glory. Now, personally, I’d say don’t trust it. Shit like this has taken down dynasties.
But as far as a cheat jam goes, this is about as good as it’s going to get. It sounds so good you can’t help but sing along and bounce your shoulders to the beat. There’s a reason why it was a chart success and a huge hit for SWV; it hit the Billboard pop charts because they made brazen cheating sound like a Tuesday afternoon stroll for ice cream.
That has to make it a first-ballot Hall of Fame cheat jam, right? I believe so.