6 Jason Derulo Songs Inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

It’s no secret Ariana Grande was heavily influenced by Mariah Carey’s early work, but did you know Jason Derulo owes much of his success to late novelist Joseph Conrad? Here are just five of his many songs inspired by Conrad’s most prominent novella Heart of Darkness, which details the Belgian colonization of the Congo and the murderous ivory trade.


1. Whatcha Say

Wha- wha- what did she say?

Mmmm, whatcha say,

Mmmm, that you only meant well?

Well, of course you did

Mmmm, whatcha say,

Jason Derulo

Mmmm, that it’s all for the best?

Of course it is

You thought this song was about Jason cheating on the woman he loved, didn’t you? Turns out, this song is actually about the lack of communication between the colonizer and the colonized, which leads to a distorted national identity!


2. Talk Dirty

You know the words to my songs

No habla inglés

Our conversations ain’t long

But you know what is

This song uses Jason’s many international lovers as metaphors for the many venues where the malevolent King Leopold of Belgium exerted his power.  Also, Derulo’s use of the formal Spanish usted form with his lover suggests the distorted power dynamic of colonial economic. Crazy, right?


3. In My Head

I can see it going down, going down

In my head, I see you all over me,

In my head, you fulfill my fantasy

In my head, you’ll be screamin’, ooooh

In my head, it’s goin’ down

In my head, it’s goin’ down

A lot of people assume this song is about Jason’s sex fantasy, but really it’s about delirium and crippling Id that settles on Heart of Darkness narrator Marlow as he travels closer to the center of Congo.


4. It Girl

You could be my it girl

Baby you’re the shit girl

Lovin’ you could be a crime

Crazy how we fit girl

This is it girl

Give me 25 to life

Jason penned this tune for one of the shriveled head lining Kurtz’s estate in the heart of the Congo. How romantic!


5. Trumpets

Is it weird that I hear

Violins whenever you’re gone

Whenever you’re gone

Is it weird that your ass

Remind me of a Kanye West song?

The last words of Kurtz, the ferocious ivory trader, are famously “The horror, The horror.” Jason imagines that as these words are said, heavens doors open and trumpets play.


6. Don’t Want to Go Home

From the window (from the window)

To the wall (to the wall)

This club is jumpin’ (this club is jumpin’)

Til tomorrow (‘Til tomorrow)

Is it daylight? (Is it daylight?)

Or is it night time? (Is it night time)

One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, four

We gon’ tear the club up (up, up, up, up)

This song reflects on Conrad’s foresight on postcolonial theory. As Aimee Cesaire would say, the power of the colonizer oppresses the nation long after liberation. Think about that next time this comes on at the bar!

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