Being an adult is very hard for very many people. Jean Grae knows this and has written a handy eleven-track musical commentary on it titled That’s Not How You Do That: An Instructional Album For Adults. It opens with the scatted observation, “That’s not how you do that/ How about you fuckin’ grow up?” and also includes the righteous call to arms “A Handle Means PULL” and “Use Your Fucking Headphones.” You should stop whatever fuckery you’re indulging in at the moment and go and procure it now.
While you do that, here’s Jean answering a bunch of questions based on the contents of her new album. (Warning: Includes talk of kale salad, L train subway stress, and waitstaff interactions.)
Was there one situation or tipping point that inspired you to make That’s Not How You Do That: An Instructional Album For Adults?
Yes. It was life, mostly. Life interacting with people on a daily basis.
The song “PLANES: The Trilogy” deals with annoying people on airplanes. What’s your most hellish airplane or airport experience?
I can’t even really narrow that down. In an airpot, I will say the example I used in episode three of Life With Jeannie — the animated episode. That child was real; that child singing the Smurfs theme song completely wrong. That whole interaction was real. What song is that? Tell me it’s a remix. You can’t just keep singing that and tell me it’s something it’s not. I blame her parents.
Then on a plane, I really have to say that it’s either the child who will continue to kick the back of your seat for a very long flight. The parents say nothing, then you have to feel like a dick when you turn around and lose your shit on the child and the parents. Then everyone hates you. Or, yeah, the phrase “Use your core” [from the song] is actually something I have yelled on planes [when people pull themselves up by grabbing the seat in front]. Just use your body, man. I use my body to lift myself, so as not to disturb you. I’m not a superhuman. You have the same abilities. Unless you physically actually don’t. Then I am sorry. I don’t mean due to laziness. This woman pulled my seat back at least seven times during a short flight. There was a confrontation. It was valid. Use your core, dammit.
The album includes “Don’t Be A Dick To The Waitstaff.” What are the most common ways you witness people being a dick to their waitstaff?
A general “I’m better than you” attitude. Come on, these people are at their jobs. There’s no need for that. Don’t bark at them. Don’t be snide. I have de-friended people for doing that, definitely. Also, stop saying “garçon.” Stop it.
Based on “To The Right,” which subway station in New York City is the most stress-inducing to navigate due to the actions of other people?
The Union Square L during rush hour is pretty fucking bananas. I would shank someone, definitely. Yeah.
You rant about peoples’ use of Twitter on “Read The TL. It Retains Information.” If you were in charge of Twitter for a day, what changes would you make?
I would implement an essay question and or small common sense and comprehension test in order to sign in. That would be great. I would love that. So very fucking much.
Finally, on “Don’t Be A Dick To The Waitstaff” there’s a segment asking to take the bacon out of a kale salad. Why would someone do this?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 25, 2014