Kiana Ledé’s song ‘Jealous,’ featuring Ella Mai, is pretty much perfect

OPINION: Over 3 minutes and 45 seconds, Ledé and Mai scientifically break down the how and why of feeling jealous over somebody that isn’t yours.

Kian Lede single Jealous,
Kiana Ledé sings the National Anthem before the game between the Phoenix Suns and the LA Clippers before Game Four of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Arena on April 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I have to say, Kiana Ledé has crept onto my list of favorite new (to me) artists. My first time hearing her was on the song “Chocolate” with perennial cheat code Ari Lennox. That song has stayed in constant rotation since I first heard it in 2020, and whenever I see a new song by Kiana Ledé, I check it out. That’s how I came to hear, know and absolutely love the song “Jealous” featuring everybody’s boo, Ella Mai. 

Sometime in April, I was perusing one of those playlists on one of those streaming services of new singles. Typically, I get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of music so my perusals are pretty short, but this day, I happened to see a song I was unfamiliar with by Ms. Ledé. I clicked on it and 4 minutes later, I was different. Perhaps that’s an overstatement (OK, it’s definitely an overstatement), but what I can say is that “Jealous” has been on repeat since the first day I heard it. In fact, that first day, I probably ran the song back over 100 times, and I’m not even joking. I listen to it in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. That’s how much I love this song. I think you should, too, because this song is pretty much perfect. Word to Big Bird. I will explain to you why after this next paragraph. 

I think “Jealous” has also unlocked something for me. I’ve long wondered what drew me to groups like Jagged Edge, and I think it’s the raw, straight-to-the-point nature of the lyrics. There’s not much coding going on, it’s just the facts. Or how the facts make you feel. For instance, Jazmine Sullivan’s “Heaux Tales” remains one of my favorite albums of the past 10 years precisely because of its straightforward and direct, honest messaging. Every song creatively speaks to another part of the relationship experience but in a way that is supremely relatable because the lyrics are almost literal; I think I like literal lyricism that is creative, simple and impactful — at least in R&B. I might need to explore that some more, but “Jealous” seems straight from the Jazmine Sullivan-Teedra Moses school of R&B, and that’s apparently my favorite HBCU. 

Back to “Jealous.” Let’s start with the big-picture discussion about why I think this song is perfect and work our way into specifics. A song cannot be perfect if the actual musical soundbed isn’t doing some heavy lifting: the beat for “Jealous” is doing HEAVY lifting. It’s not some super complex composition, but it’s effective. Produced by VRon (born Veronica Ware), “Jealous” features a simple guitar and bass loop with ethereal flourishes in the background that stick the landing so hard, I could listen to the beat alone on a loop without getting tired of it — which is amazing considering that it’s really mostly a two-bar loop (depending on how well you can count) where the drums and elements drop out and come back in throughout the song to create movement. Looking up VRon’s discography, it’s no surprise that I learned she’s responsible for a considerable number of records by another of my favorite artists, UMI. VRon is apparently one of my favorite producers and I didn’t even realize it until just a few days ago. VRon, drinks are on me if I ever see you in these streets. 

Let’s get to the lyrics. According to RatedRnB, the writer of the song is Chelsea Lena, who has worked with Ledé on other recordings, and let’s just say, she pulls no punches lyrically. The lyrics are a masterclass in the lies we tell ourselves about being in situationships. Both Kiana and Ella sing about doing things they wouldn’t normally do or how they have to pretend to be good when the truth is they want the object of their affections to just want them, even though they’re not in a committed relationship. For the sake of the children, I’ll use the clean version of the lyrics to illustrate some things.

I ain’t gon’ tell you to drop them other women

But drop them other women

I never been jealous

But right now, I’m jealous

Like, she KNOWS she doesn’t have the right to be jealous, but who cares about right when feelings are involved? Ella Mai, though, has a KILLER four bars that are as good an illustration of jealousy as I’ve ever seen. It’s like Frank Ocean was sitting in the room. 

I know you do this stuff on purpose (I know)

Actin’ like you don’t know I’m perfect for ya (Perfect for ya, hey)

You told me I’m your only person

Hate to say it, but that player stuff be workin’, ooh, ah

I mean, come on. There is frustration, vulnerability, delusion and realization in four bars, delivered perfectly to illustrate what that jealousy feels like. And to absolutely drive the final nail into the perfection coffin, during the bridge, Kiana sings with the exact right amount of annoyance, hope and humor: 

What did you think would happen?

When you give me all his good ****?

When you keep me on some bull****? 

Let ’em try me, I’ma pull it

I been postin’ pics

Yeah, I been lookin’ thick

Does it make you jealous?

I can’t be the only one

And I haven’t even spoken yet about how effectively Kiana and Ella sing this song. Their vocals are so well-done that they’ve made me feel what I assume are the emotions I should have on this joint. Their singing had me rooting for them and saying, “I understand.” That is called execution. They executed this song perfectly. 

“Jealous” is beats, rhymes and life sung perfectly, expressing emotions and feelings most folks are familiar with even if not in the specific way shared on this song. 


Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.