Lijuana (LL Juna)
Daddy B. Nice's #57 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Wasn't None Of You"
Lijuana (LL Juna)
Composed by LLJuna Weir
Listen to a long sample of Lijuana singing "Wasn't None Of You" on YouTube while you read.
Lijuana (or LLJuna) is yet another exception to the usual rule I've followed in constructing this new Top 100 Southern Soul chart. She's never published an album, although a local disc was distributed in Mississippi in 2005. But her deeply-underground song "Wasn't None Of You" caused a sensation among the few who were privileged to play or hear it.
I myself heard it played most often by legendary WMPR (Jackson, Mississippi) radio jock DJ Ragman in 2005 and 2006. Ragman often introduced it with a "Tell it like it is!" or "Say everything you need to say, woman!"
And Lijuana does. The obvious precedent for "Wasn't None Of You" is Shirley Brown's "Woman To Woman," which cast the primary template for female R&B song-slash-voice-overs, in the same way that Latimore's "Let's Straighten It Out" set the form for male R&B song-slash-voice-overs.
However, Lijuana carried the sing-and-talk form to a whole new level, incorporating a hiphop contemporaneity---more cultural than musical--and in the process finding the sweetest spot any Southern Soul diva has ever reached.
The slice-of-life realism is so cutting edge that it bears comparison to hiphop's arguably greatest female rant, "Oh Yeah" by Foxy Brown, especially the Sprigga Benz, reggae-beat version hosted by DJ Envy.
Another precedent for Lijuana's "Wasn't None Of You" is the late, great Jackie Neal's "That's The Way We Roll," a family-oriented lullaby that seemed to simultaneously satisfy the listener's urge to be transported back to the happy days of childhood while at the same time basking in the hippest R&B sounds (at the time) by the hippest Southern Soul singer in the South.
It's no exaggeration to say that had Jackie Neal lived and herself recorded "Wasn't None Of You," it likely would have been considered her masterpiece. "Wasn't None Of You," with its unforgettable chorus of heavenly-sounding female singers, is torn from the same celestial cloth as "That's The Way We Roll," and it's the inspired meshing of the tough-ass but heart-breakingly realistic female talk and the mesmerizing, lullaby-like melody/chorus that makes "Wasn't None Of You" unique.
Lijuana's "Wasn't None Of You" is one of the songs your Daddy B. Nice has long wanted to rescue from oblivion. In the late nineties, I felt the same way about the whole Southern Soul canon up to that point. The word of the time was anxiety. Would anyone out there ever listen to this music from the deep South, or would it be lost forever?
The success of Southern Soul over the last decade hasn't been so much in conquering the "Billboard" charts (that still seems improbable) as in making a name for itself. The power of the word, i.e. writing about the music, does make a difference, and a significant fraction of the music-loving audience has come to know and propel Southern Soul music into the 21st century.
Now, as if all the pieces were finally coming together, I can report a rare find: a long sample of Lijuana's "Wasn't None Of You" on VOP Records/Radio.
Listen to Lijuana singing a long sample of "Wasn't None Of You" while you read.
Your Daddy B. Nice has been waiting for this song to hit the Internet for years. Play the song which says "Wasn't None Of You snippet". It's not really a "snippet," running four minutes long, but the meat of the song (which runs almost six minutes) has already passed.
When the sample begins, Lijuana is just about to begin her long, rambling rant-slash-voice message to her wayward hubbie. First-time listeners may wonder what all the fuss is about because the melody may not yet be working through the background of Lijuana's rap and consequently their minds.
For that (the entirety of the song), we must wait for this song to make YouTube. However, the monologue returns to the main verses and Lijuana's made-famous-in-the-song "background" accompanying Lijuana in a rousing, all-female finale to the main melody.
From its enticing beginning, with its frank talk and Isley's-style lead guitar introduction (never to be heard from again), the song progresses through one musical permutation after another, rolling its aria-like melody over and over while Lijuana explores the theme of an angry yet diplomatic woman trying to save her marriage.
Well, at one point, Lijuana confides that it would be hard for her and the kids to make it without him. "I don't have any choice, y'all. He makes plenty of money."
The chorus is:
"Are you leaving me?
Let me know.
Is it over?
Are you sho'?
I can't take
Your running around,
But if you still love me,
Please stay around."
The verses follow one another like pearls on a necklace.
"Is it my hair?
Are the things that we do
You want to fight for love.
What I thought was mine,
Now I feel it never was.
So be a man, baby,
And let me know
Where we stand.
Are coming home?
Am I in your plans?"
Humor mixes in with the domestic drama, as it often does in real life. Lijuana's extended riff on the way her man's flame looks like--
"Saw you stumbling out of the club
With a woman with tracks in her hair
Trying to look like Beyonce
But looking like Wesley Snipes in "To Wong Foo". . .
Wasn't none of you, was it?"
The music, by the way, is layered, classic acoustic guitar, keyboards, and finally lead electric guitar all taking jazz-like "nods" at the undulating melody line, and yet Lijuana's vocal is so all-consuming the song seems more akin to an acapella outing, just Lijuana and her "background," as she calls her Greek chorus of singers.
We might expect this inspired convergence of so many musical high points in a song by Shirley Brown or Peggy Scott-Adams or Denise LaSalle. But it's safe to say that none of those divas ever recorded a six-minute song with the sheer amount of information, detail and humor Lijuana packs into "Wasn't None Of You."
And yet the inspired arrangement makes the song--and all its wealth of emotion, friendly persuasion and seasoned sadness--pass by as serenely as a tug on a sunset-lit river. Quite simply, Lijuana's "Wasn't None Of You" is one of the top two or three testifying tunes in all of contemporary Southern Soul.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Lijuana (LL Juna)
Lijuana (aka LLJuna Weir and Lijuana Grennell-Weir) is a native of Natchez, Mississippi. After attending Alcorn State University, the Art Institute of Atlanta and Jackson State University, Weir went to work as an administrator at Alcorn State University, outside Vicksburg and Natchez, where she specialized in marketing, sports and radio.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"And sometimes he makes me so mad
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked Jackie Neal's "The Way We Roll," you'll love Lijuana's "Wasn't None Of You."
Honorary "B" Side
"Wasn't None Of You (Remix) f/ Tavarus"
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