One of my favorite pastimes is revisiting songs from my youth (and particularly from the ’90s) and thinking about them critically. The world isn’t made better by this practice, nor does this bring me a step closer to lottery-sized millions, but you know what, if you’re bored on a Wednesday it really moves the clock. Which brings us to the latest ’90s jam that has me spending too much time thinking about how much cash shit ’90s R&B singers talked.
The ’90s was an era where R&B was still alive and well and Joe Thomas, better known as Joe, was one of those cats who made good, solid R&B music. His 1997 sophomore album, All That I Am, is a classic and you can argue with your mother about it if you disagree. It featured jams like “Good Girls,” “Don’t Wanna Be a Player,” (which also featured on 1997's Booty Call soundtrack), “The Love Scene,” and the topic of today’s exploration, “All The Things (Your Man Won’t Do.”
Taking his cues from such pantheon level cash shit jams like “Ready or Not” by After 7 and Keith Sweat’s entire body of work, Joe dropped a jam of jamtastic proportion with “All The Things.” Hell, it even faded into the song, which wasn’t really happening back then, to let you know it was about to be...something.
I love this song with my whole heart just like everybody who heard it during its heyday. But upon my latest random listen of the song, I got to thinking about the lyrics compared to what it promises to be via the title, and I have to say, I feel like Joe was just saying anything. For one, purporting to do all the things her man won’t do is problematic, not because she has a man already—that is problematic, too—but chiefly because he’s claiming he’ll do all the things but it doesn’t sound like he wants to do those things, ya know, permanently. There is one line about making this spoken-for-women his, but that could easily be just for the night. Real talk, it just sounds like Joe wants to smash. But maybe I’m being harsh. Let’s dig into the lyrics via Genius.
Tell me what kind of man
Would treat his woman so cold?
Treat you like you’re nothing
When your worth more than gold
Girl, to me you’re like a diamond
I love the way you shine
A hundred million dollar treasure
I’d give the world to make you mine
Pretty standard issue ’90s buttering up here: your man sucks—I don’t though. You shine like a diamond, and if I had to place a value on you, you’d be worth a the kind of treasure you’d find maybe not in National Treasure but in, say, Goonies, but not in the transactional, prostitutey way. La-la-la-la-laaaa.
I’d put a string of pearls right in your hand
Make love on a beach of jet black sand
Outside in the rain
We can do it all night
I’ll touch all the places he would not
And some you never knew would get you hot
Nothing is forbidden when we touch
Aight, now we’re cooking. So let’s see if Joe is willing to do all the things here. He’s willing to put a string of pearls in her hand and then, presumably, make love on a beach of jet-black sand in the rain for a really long time, where he will touch her all over. Nothing is off limits.
Now, according to this article, you do have to go to some exotic places to find jet-black sand beaches to make love on all night in the rain. The pearl thing is cute, but we’re talking Iceland and Polynesia for those beaches. Maybe Joe is right; he’s willing to travel a long way to see this thing through. And by this thing, I mean to get some of the sex, which he’s kind of assuming her man won’t do. I don’t know if Joe and her man are friends or if he has any idea what his pockets look like, but maybe her man’s pockets aren’t the problem, maybe he’s gotten lazy and only sticks to the rivers and the lakes (and beaches) that he’s used to. Score one for Joe.
Baby, I wanna do
All of the things your man won’t do (Every little thing)
(I’ll do them for you)
Baby, I wanna do (Yeahh)
All of (All of) the things your man won’t do (Every little thing)
(I’ll do them for you)
So far we have a whole verse, bridge and hook and one example really. Telling people you’ll do all the things without telling them what all the things gets real close to selling wolf tickets. Maybe we get more to the good stuff in verse 2.
I’ll take you out on a night cruise on a yacht
Just can’t loose
‘Cause we got a lot to look forward to
One, two, what’cha gonna do?
What good is a diamond nobody can see?
I hear he’s got you on lock-down
But I got the master key
OK, so Joe has a thing for water. Except he’s kind of short on ideas. He literally says one thing he’ll do that maybe her man won’t do. He will take her out on a night cruise on a yacht. Maybe her man only rides in dingies. I don’t know. But I do think the yacht thing is cool. Just seems like, we need more, Joe. La-la-la-la-laa.
I’ll light up all the candles all around
Show me to the subway, I’ll go down
Nothing can be sweeter than the sound of making love
Baby, when I start, I just can’t stop
I love you from the bottom to the top
Nothing is forbidden when we touch
So in this bridge he’s promising to light up candles, maybe in a circle? Or only if there are candles present; it’s not clear. Either way, this also seems pretty low bar-ish. Joe really ain’t going all out here. He’s promising some of that all night loving and he’ll ride the subway downtown, which ya know, innuendo! But this ain’t much here. We get another hook and then another bridge like break.
Ooh, I got a jones in my bones for you
There ain’t a damn thing that I won’t do
I’ll make your body cream with my sex machine
I won’t stop until I hear your mother scream
Again, it seems like all Joe is really offering is sex, which I suppose her man won’t do. Joe alleges he doesn’t care about her or treat her like a diamond. So perhaps he man is not giving her that good lovin’, just mediocre lovin’ and that’s where Joe comes in with the gold standard smanging. I know what having a jones in my bones means. D’Angelo wrote a whole song about it. On second thought, D is saying a whole lot of nothing in amazing fashion on that song, too.
Maybe Joe is going to do all the things this particular woman’s man won’t do but it kind of sounds like he’s just offering sex maaaaaybe in Polynesia for a really long time or maybe on a yacht with some candles around. And look, I suppose that’s nothing to sneeze at, but when you compare it to other folks offering the sun, the rain, the moon the stars and even the mountains? After 7 ‘nem are willing to climb hills and cross seas and offering up their heart and time. Joe just wants to lay that thang down. So I’m going to say that Joe is indeed talking cash shit and is also not really willing to do that many things.
Thank you for coming to my Panama Talk.