Syleena Johnson is known for keeping it real in her music. Over the course of 11 albums, she’s endeared herself to fans with soulful songs about pleasure, pain, love and life. As she readies her 12th album LEGACY, Johnson introduces the set with probably her most real, raw and reflective record yet, “Monsters In The Closet.”
Syleena has a story to tell on “Monsters In The Closet,” but this is no fairytale. She invites us to gather ’round to listen to her confront the past head-on.
“There’s a story of a girl who is me,” she begins after a string intro, singing over a sound bed of guitar and steady drum beat. “She gave everything to the industry / And she thought she’d be a big success story / And people thought she was happy as can be,” she continues before ending the verse with the admission that everything that glitters isn’t gold. “And they didn’t know how I was scared and lonely / Abandoned, starring role in this scary movie / And I don’t know how I didn’t die in the first scene.”
For those skeptics who look at her public persona and think that her life’s been sweet, Syleena’s got something for them to chew on. “And I’ll say don’t believe everything you see / Cause, trust me all that I have came with a large fee / And so high, so steep to the point it almost killed me,” she sings, sharing that God – and therapy – pulled her through.
The songstress has been open about the grief she’s experienced since her father Syl Johnson died in February 2022, and she addresses the loss in the song as well. “This music heals me, but the business takes from me / It stole my peace, shook my belief, it took my daddy away from me,” she wails on the bridge. The last lyric of the song is the most searing with Syleena pledging, “Daddy, I promise to carry our legacy.”
Released in tandem with a music video, the visual for “Monsters In The Closet” uses AI to make old photographs come alive. Young Syleena’s face becomes animated as she sings the lyrics in various pictures of her as a sweet-faced child and with her older sisters Dr. Syleecia Thompson and Dr. Sylette DeBois. The most moving images are of her as a toddler sitting in her father’s lap. The video is admittedly a tinge creepy, but it’s also extremely clever and an effective use of AI technology.
“Monsters In The Closet” is Syleena Johnson at her best as a storyteller. The song is a lot to process, but it was necessary for her to share while she continues her healing journey. Expect more introspective soul to come from Syleena with the forthcoming release of LEGACY. Until she shares more details about the album, listen to and watch “Monsters In The Closet” below.