Summer Walker: 10 Essential Songs

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We highlight some essential listening when it comes to the talented Summer Walker.

Summer Walker is undoubtedly one of the most prominent voices in contemporary ‘R&B’ music. While the genre continues to evolve and go through a resurgence, Summer has undeniably solidified her position as a powerhouse fully capable of creating raw, soulful music. Walker was first introduced to the scene with her debut commercial mixtape Last Day of Summer released through LoveRenaissance/Interscope at the end of 2018. The Atlanta-born singer’s lyrics, which are largely written by Walker herself, are emotionally vulnerable and often describe feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, love, unapologetic sexuality, and the power of femininity.

summer walker essential tracks

Prince Williams/Wireimage/Getty Images

At just 24 years old, Walker’s willingness to bare her most vulnerable moments in painfully relatable lyrics coupled with her passionate delivery and moody beats made her connect instantly with audiences, and helped her skyrocket to superstardom. Walker has been open about her struggle with social anxiety and doesn’t do many interviews, but she has always maintained she prefers to tell her story through music.

The songstress released her second EP Life on Earth last week, her first major project since 2019’s acclaimed Over It. Summer is just getting started and now is the perfect time to get hip to the most crucial songs in her discography. For that reason, we’ve compiled ten of her most essential songs to get you started.

Which Summer song is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.


Over It

Album: Over It

The title track from her debut studio album, “Over It” serves as the mood-setting opener where Summer questions whether her relationship problems exist because of her expectations, over a mid-tempo beat complete with compressed background vocals. Summer opens the song singing, “Am I really that much to handle?/Breakin’ these n***** down like enamel (Oh).” By the end of the two-minute track, consistent with themes of female empowerment and relationship frustrations, which are ever present in her lyrics, Summer shows us she’s ‘over it,’ crooning, “But I need a nigga who can handle me /I want a, a n**** who can handle me/N**** keep your hands off me/You wanna stay with me/But n****, you just a fan of me.”


Playing Games

Album: Over It

summer walker and london on da track

Summer Walker & her boyfriend, London On Da Track – Prince Williams/Wireimage/Getty Images

One thing about Summer, she is going to sample a classic. Released as the lead single from her London on da Track-produced debut studio album“Playing Games” samples the iconic hook from Destiny’s Child’s 1999 hit “Say My Name” and features similar themes of suspicion, dishonesty, and being taken for granted. Lauded as one of the best tracks on the project, the slow-groove R&B song finds Summer addressing failed romances; particularly those involving guys who refuse to put in the bare minimum when it comes to effort, but talk a big game. Summer declares, “I’m just tryna match your words with your actions/I need more than satisfaction/Is you really ’bout that action?”


Body

Album: Over It

As we mentioned, the Atlanta songbird loves to utilize a good sample. On “Body,” Summer’s unapologetic sexuality is on full display as she shamelessly expresses her obsessive, unrequited lust, while sampling 90s trio 702’s hit “Get it Together.” She’s straight forward on this one: “Baby, I’m talkin’ crazy/I need you right in my space, but I/Need it, baby, I’m late, but I/But my heart, my mind and my body is sayin.” Summer has said the track is her personal favorite from Over It, and if you’re a fan of the golden age of R&B, it might be yours too. The song’s sensual sound and cheeky lyrics instantly made it one of the most popular non-single tracks on the album.


Session 32

Album: Session 32

Many fans were introduced to Summer via “Session 32” back in 2018, and the track is commonly associated with her signature sound. The song is a moody, unedited, raw cut where Summer confronts an ex-boyfriend over an acoustic guitar she plays herself. The track lasts just 99 seconds, but you can feel every word Summer is singing as she addresses an ex-lover that didn’t understand unconditional love. “You don’t know what love is/If you’re too good to call a million times,” she belts. “And you say you know what love is/But I swear you never seen it in your life.”


Come Thru feat. Usher

Album: Over It

“Come Thru” is an ode to classic R&B with assistance by the King of the game himself. The song flips Usher’s ‘97 breakout hit “You Make Me Wanna…” and replaces some of the original beat with modern trap beats (shouts to London, again). The product is a sultry duet between the two artists with an infectious hook that’s tough to get out of your head: “You make me wanna come through/Quarter after two/Just to put it down on you.” The video for the song was filmed at the 285 Flea Market in Atlanta where both crooners are from, shouts to the A.


CPR

Album: Last Day Of Summer 

summer walker essential tracks

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

One of her earliest underground hits, “CPR” is the silky first single from Last Day of SummerThe track is a dreamy love song with a smooth baseline that reminds you of late-night drives in the summertime. The vulnerable cut is a metaphor for her man, who literally brings her heart and soul back to life to the point where “it feels like CPR.” “Baby where would I be without your love beside me?/Baby where would I be? Probably gone, oh,” she croons on the emotional track. “I ain’t really never had a home/Damn I really hate feeling alone/Maybe you could make me feel at home, baby.”


Anna Mae

Album: Over It

Speculated to be inspired by Summer’s current romance with London on da Track, the song’s title is a cultural reference to the infamous scene in the popular Tina Turner biopic (née Anna Mae) What’s Love Got to Do with It where Ike Turner smashes cake into Tina’s face when she doesn’t want to eat it. London pairs a slow bassline with Summer’s seductive vocals as she sings the spicy lyrics. The opening lines of the track provide a clear look at the testy situation Summer is describing: “What’s temporary? Me or you?/ You want me here to stay (Stay)/But your situation tells me that it’s a waste of time/But never mind all that.” The song’s playful lyrics ease the reality of the situation, and you can almost hear Summer smiling as she concludes the song, “All alone, we turned off our phones all the way/Your girl drivin’ your ass insane/And you know my nigga don’t play shit.”


Karma

Album: Last Day Of Summer

“Karma” is one of Summer’s most standout moments to date. The ambient track is a ballad that serves as a message to men who mistreat their significant others. She warns them, “You can’t keep just doing them girls like that/Thinking that nobody finna bite back.” Karma comes in many forms, good and bad, but is always unexpected. On the track, Summer embodies karma, opening the track with the taunting message, “I told you, you better stay prayed up/You never thought the universe be looking for revenge.” Summer’s background vocals float perfectly with the song’s slow bassline to deliver the femme power message. The song is also one of Summer’s strongest songwriting moments and truly proves she is gifted with the pen.


I’ll Kill You feat. Jhene Aiko

Album: Over It

summer walker

Jerritt Clark/Getty Images 

If we’re talking about Summer Walker essentials, it wouldn’t be right not to mention this unforgettable duet. When the album tracklist was released, fans anticipated a feisty, ‘n***** ain’t shit,’ anti-love anthem from the songstresses’ and they were shocked to find the song was quite the opposite. Nonetheless, the song still hits. The formula for the song’s popularity makes sense: it’s a fun love song with quotable sentiments like “If it ain’t me or your mama/shouldn’t be showin’ you no love” over a vibey London on da Track produced “trap ‘n b” beat. The product is a female anthem from two of R&B’s strongest songbirds.


Girls Need Love

Album: Last Day Of Summer

This list would be incomplete without mentioning Summer’s widely popular breakout track. Her biggest hit to date, “Girls Need Love” addresses the double standard in how sexually-liberated women are often stigmatized, while men are rewarded for the same behavior. Summer’s self-assured delivery of the honest lyrics serves as a candid vent on that stigma surrounding women who speak truthfully about their desire for love and affection. The slow groove R&B cut also boasts some of Summer’s most iconic verses, namely when she says, “I just need some d***/I just need some love/Tired of f****** with these lame n***** baby/I just need a thug.” The Drake-assisted remix also features some of the Canadian rapper’s most seductive bars.

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