Since its surprise release in December, I’ve had D’Angelo’s long-awaited third album Black Messiah on a non-stop loop. And in that time, I’ve been on a mission to find out who the woman speaking the sensual, whispered Spanish introduction of “Really Love” is.
You’ve all heard the track by now. A love song that opens with swelling strings that give way to Spanish guitar, D’Angelo’s singing is preceded by a woman whose throaty, faint voice addresses a lover in Spanish. Most reviews of the track have totally glossed over this part – probably because the reviewers couldn’t understand what she was saying due to not speaking Spanish. But if you listen closely, the woman speaking says some pretty intriguing stuff, especially when contrasted with the tender lyrics D’Angelo proceeds to croon in falsetto. In some parts, her whisper gets folded back into the strings and become hard to hear, but from what I’ve been able to decipher from repeated listens, this is what she says:
“Si, me amas? Yo te quiero mucho. Todo el tiempo que pasamos. Lo que te quería decir es que… tu estas jodiendome la vida. [laughs] Yo no quería pelear contigo. Yo solamente te quería amar. Pero tu eres muy celoso. Querías ser mi dueño. Pero yo soy libre. Quieres ser mi rey? Yo tu reina? No sé si confío en ti. Pero yo te quiero mucho.”
INTERESTING. The picture D’Angelo paints with the lyrics of his song is of a woman who holds him down, who is understanding and patient. But the woman speaking in the introduction creates a much more tumultuous image. She tells her lover (presumably D’Angelo?!) that he’s fucking up her life, that she loves him but he’s too jealous and possessive. He can’t own her because she’s free, she tells him, and even though she loves him she’s not sure she can trust him.
Adding to the intrigue, is the fact that this entire introduction was added long after the song was written. In 2007, Questlove infamously leaked an unfinished version of the track to an Australian radio station that did not contain any of the Spanish guitar or spoken introduction. In fact, the song was reportedly one of the first D’Angelo wrote after his 2000 album Voodoo and during its 15-year gestation period it unsurprisingly underwent several changes.
Is it possible that this song is about D’Angelo’s Puerto Rican love? (Her accent sounds boricua to me). I reached out to Black Messiah sound engineer Ben Kane to try and get some answers, but he was quite enigmatic. “There’s only so much I can tell about it,” he said. “The actual words, like the lyrics to the rest of the album, are open to the interpretation of the listener.” When I asked who the mystery woman was, Kane simply pointed me to the album notes, which listed just a first name for the woman’s “Spoken Vocal” credit: Gina.
Who is Gina? And is she the woman D’Angelo is singing all his panty-droppers to? Is he getting some tropical sabor?
In my mind, the answer to all of these questions is yes, but if you guys have any tips send ’em our way.