Lady Saw has never been one for holding her tongue. A dancehall veteran with more than 20 years in the game, she's carved out a reputation for addressing sex, STDs and the quest for an able-bodied fuck with an unmatched candor and lyrical prowess. And with 2014's Alter Ego, she only further consolidated reign as the emcee that brings women's concerns to the forefront of Jamaica's male-dominate dancehall scene. Just in time for Valentine's Day, we asked Lady Saw to share a few of the love lessons she's learned along the way.
I think the number one issue that I've learned is that pretty is not always what it looks like on the outside, when it comes to men. I used to choose the pretty ones and the hot ones. But sometimes pretty isn't good at all. So now, if I'm looking, I'm not looking for pretty or perfect either, but respectful. Because I learned the hard way that pretty can be so messed up.
I remember when I first start dating the guy that inspired my song "Eat Your Guts." He would come to my house, and normally he would take his shirt off; keeping the lights on wouldn't bother him. But that night, he was actin funny; he didn't want to take the shirt off, and he's like, "Turn the lights off." And then, out of the blue, he wanted me to suck on his nipples. I said to myself, "Something not right," so I go and turn the lights on, and there was a big hickey on there. I'm like, "Where did that come from?" He's telling me I did it and I didn't even suck on it yet. That was a wicked lie, right there.
If he's taking you out, it's got to be fine dining, like something classy—I'm not going to Burger King, no Kentucky, no McDonalds. Say you go out on a date and the man expects you to pay—don't pay for the dinner, the lunch, the whatever it is. Let him pay, or if he can't find it, I think it's time to bounce; you don't need to go back through with the date. That's a big turn-off right there.
In Jamaica, we grew up saying "courting." It's not dead—none at all—because I've been getting it. Open the door, compliment me on my nails, my makeup, or tell me how beautiful my lips are. One thing I think men in Jamaica learn is to be like courteous with women. I get my chair pull out, door open, yeah? And if my bag is so heavy—heavy that I'm like, "You gon' break your back"—he gon carry it up the stairs. No, it's not dead. It's there. And I love to get compliments. I love that.
Please make sure that they know how to carry on a good conversation. Suppose you go out with his friends and yours and he don't know how to carry a conversation. That's a big turn-off right there. I don't play that. You gotta know how to speak, and then there's some people who eat really fast and slap their mouth [makes slobbering eating sound]—that's a big turn-off. And make him pick you up. "Pick me up, I don't have a ride." No way!
On my song "Me and Mi Ex," some people misunderstand: they thinkin it's my Ex I just broke up with, you know, and I'm like, "No." Some Ex will remain Exes, but there are Exes that are different. If he had some good qualities about him and he still respects you, you know, sometimes you could link back up and put him back in the rotation.