The Ex Factor


Those of you who follow me or any of your favourite bloggers on twitter have probably seen more than enough tweets about the epicness of our weekend in DC. I promised myself I wasn’t going to write about it (and I’m not) but this post would not be complete if I didn’t share just one story with you.

So at the VSB #threedeez event on Saturday, a group of us were sitting together talking ish when The Ex Factor came on. We all broke into song and of course given the amount of excitement and alcohol involved in the evening, we got pretty animated. This is nothing special or exciting. But what made those few minutes great was when a certain male blogger who is a favourite around these e-streets suddenly yelled out “Yo this part just gets me yo! I just feel it right here (clutches heart) yo!”.

This proclamation had three effects on me:

1. I fucking pissed myself laughing
3. I was tickled by how effing emo this guy is sometimes
3. It gave me the idea for this post

This song has the ability to slay people because the minute we hear it we start to travel back in time…to that one relationship, that one fight, that one time, that one person. It gets us because we start thinking about what we should have said, how we felt, what we wish we had done or didn’t do. We get to wondering asking ourselves why and wondering what could have been .

For me this song is all about Snickers. It takes me back to our second (or was it third? Who can remember anymore?) breakup. Without going into detail, let me say that he did something effed up and I found out about it while we were in a public place. My reaction was probably the closest I’ve ever come to doing something crazy and when I calmed down and tried to talk to him, he refused. And he just walked away. I remember being so stunned that after everything that happened he could just turn his back and stroll off and leave me crying like that. It was the first time I ever felt like he would not always be there for me. So when Lauryn starts wailing “care for me care for me, care for me/i know you care for me/there for me, there for me said you’d be there for me/cry for me, cry for me you said you’d die for me/give to me, give to me why don’t you live for me?” It just…gets me. I’m right back in that spot of being upset about what he did and mad at myself for my initial reaction and bereft by the fact that he won’t talk to me or listen to what I have to say. If I’m not careful I will get choked up at that part of the song. But I’m a G. And we don’t do that, right? Don’t believe anything you may have heard about me crying when I had to say goodbye to my friends on Sunday. That shit’s not true..

So that’s why this song gets me. Now you watch the video (those of you who can’t watch it can listen along on your ipod…everyone owns this song, right?) and then tell me why it gets to you in the comments.

bag lady. digital nerd. beauty junkie. shoe whore. i'm a sucker for big words and box-fresh kicks. know a little bit about a lot of things and have something to say about everything.

Comments 70

  1. sanen85 says:

    I’ve been in a similar situation and yes, that does get me all verklempt every time for the same reasons. *goes to cry in the corner*

    1. BP says:

      Hands Sane tissues.

  2. bumblebee_c says:

    OMG I had a moment the other day off this exact song. My part is when she says I let u back in and then the rest of the song and I am a rap…

  3. MsEvaHoney says:

    First Time i have listened to it in a long time…”When i try to walk away…” that right there tears my soul up. people love this song because anyone can relate to an ex. My off and on for 5 yrs ruined this song for me. *drops a goon tear*

  4. I used to have the most emotional response whenever I heard this song. Tears would flow, and thoughts of time, energy, love wasted would go through my mind. Anger and disappointment. It really is a powerful song.

  5. Blackbuttafly says:

    The part that tears me up is towards the end when she laments…where were you when I needed you? To this day, i stilI ball out that part of the song.

    When I was going thru the most tumultuous time in my life, this album was my soundtrack. I had even gone and seen her in concert when she came Toronto. Even met her backstage after recognizing Rohan outside of MuchMusic. Got her to sign my Essence magazine too!

    1. Blackbuttafly says:

      Oh and that part when she says, no one hurts me more you…and no one ever will

      *clutches heart*

      1. max says:

        Oh my God “where were you when I needed you” is the part that FLATLINES me. I usually have to turn the shit off before it gets to that because it just hurts my feelings too much!

      2. Kema says:

        “no one hurts me more you…and no one ever will”

        Yessss! After that kind of love its really hard to come back or think of doing it again.

  6. BP says:

    The line that moves me is “loving you is like a batttttle…and we both end up with scars”. Wooooooh! I played this song EVERY.SINGLE.DAY for a week straight after me and my ex-fiance #1 broke up. I was young, dumb and completely in love with him but I knew if I tried to make things work out I was going to end up in some psych ward holding myself. This song can catapult me back to that time like nothing else.

  7. René says:

    Everything about this song gets to me. From the instrumentals to the lyrics, her voice, the whole package.

  8. QueenT says:

    What is Streetz or Dr. J!?? LOL

    Love this song. period.:-)

    1. max says:

      I’m not naming names…but we all know Dr. Jay is a G and probably would not proclaim loudly and publicly that something gets him in his heart. And that’s all I’m gonna say 🙂

  9. Danielle says:

    Ooooh, I think I am the odd chica out. That song has never moved me. Ever. Every time I hear I think about the rumor that she was singing about Wyclef. My I need to breakdown song is Fool of me by Me’shell Ndegeocello. That normally sums up how I feel after a relationship.

    1. LaLaBakir says:

      I did a post on that song on my blog. <3 that song.

      1. max says:

        That song…oh man. It OFFENDS me!

        1. emti says:

          “Does she want you with the pain that I do”

          1. LaLaBakir says:

            “I can smell you in my dreams”

            *shaking head and waving my hand in the air”

    2. emti says:

      OMG DITTO…this song doesn’t really get me
      but Fool of Me…LAWD…i’m a crying fool…pounding my chest

    3. average chick says:

      @ Danielle – You’re not the only one. The song does absolutely nothing for me either. I just like the video. I was never a big Lauryn Hill fan. Her music never moves me.

    4. Capricorn says:

      *throws BOTH shoes*

      I simply cannot with EITHER song.

      *puts shoes back on so I can throw them again*

    5. GirlSixx says:

      No, you are not alone (MJ).

      I’ll join you Danielle in your oddness, although I did like this Lauryn Hill joint back in the day, it never moved me like this Donelle Jones single “Where I Wanna Be” to this day this song can still stop me dead in my tracks and I would just sit listen and reminisce back to June 2000. *UGH*


      Say when you love someone you just don’t treat them bad
      oh how I feel so sad now that I wanna leave
      She’s crying her heart to me…… how could you let this be
      BUT I just need time to see where I wanna be”


      Damn you Max for this post today.

      1. max says:

        Gah! Damn you for bringing up that song!

  10. LaLaBakir says:

    This song touches my soul mayne. EVERYTHING about it is dope. The lyrics, her adlibs, the production. Goodness.

    *sighs* Anywho, this song makes me think of Black. That’s what I’ll call him b/c he was blacker than a muthaf*cker a la Charlie Murphy. “Ex-Factor” breaks down our relationship to a T…and that’s rather unfortunate if I do say so myself.

    “It could all be so simple, but you rather make it hard”…GOTDAMN! That’s exactly what happened. We would’ve been good together, Black and I…but he made eveything difficult. In fighting against his feelings, he fought against me. I never cried so much in my life. And I don’t cry often.

    “No matter how I think we grow, you always seem to let me know it ain’t working” Just when I thought sh*t was getting good between us, he’d push me away. Then we’d find our way back to each other. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat for 3 years.

    “See I know what, we got to do. You let go and I’ll let go to. Cause no one’s hurt me more than you, and know one ever well” *single tear shed* Thank goodness his ass was shipped to the Middle East to serve, b/c I don’t know where I’d be right now in regards to him. Because he won’t let me go. Even after I told him that I can’t take him popping back in my life, just to leave….he disappeared for a few months and emailed me to “check in”. No one has hurt me more than Black. That was a very dark period in my life. I have never been so exposed and vulnerable to a man…ever.

    “Tell me who I have to be, to get some reciprocity” I won’t even elaborate on this line b/c it just says it all.

    So even while I was singing this shit in a room full of people in DC, I was singing that shit from the heart and I didn’t even care.

    1. LaLaBakir says:

      Hol’up hol’up….and then the breakdown….”care for me, care for me, I KNOW you care for me”….she only says “I know you care for me” once. The following times she says “You said you cared for me”. That’s how I felt, so confused. I was telling myself I know he cares for me, and of course he said it as well…but he sure wasn’t acting like it.

      “Where were you, when I needed you” *drops mic*

      1. Reecie says:

        …Cry for me, cry for me
        You said you’d die for me

        Give to me, give to me
        Why won’t you live for me?

        man, listen. THAT.RIGHT.THERE. hurts.

        1. max says:

          Oh my God I’m having total Tap & Parlour flashbacks right now…we were like a choir at that part of the song…

          1. LaLaBakir says:

            We were harmonizing like a muthaf*cker…the best thing to happen to Tap and Palour…besides that lobster mac n’ cheese

            1. emti says:

              lobster what now?
              maxie i hope you brought me back some of that!!!!

    2. Muze says:

      “I never cried so much in my life. And I don’t cry often.

      “No matter how I think we grow, you always seem to let me know it ain’t working” Just when I thought sh*t was getting good between us, he’d push me away. Then we’d find our way back to each other. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat for 3 years.”

      THIS. so basically we were living parallel lives. i swear fo got and 3 white men. even down to the 3 years. ugh. lol

      1. Flyy says:


        Well I wish I could say it were 3 years… I’m working on about 5.

        LAWD! Shadrach, Meeshack, and Billygoat… *sigh*

        1. fixedwater says:


    3. Flyy says:

      Omg… As sad as I was to miss #ThreeDeez that night i’m GLAD I missed this song… cuz my life would’ve been verklempt in the bar. That is a no-sign.

      MAX! Why are blogging my life?! OMG. This song sums up my life w/ such force. I couldn’t even put my words together and when I saw the name of this post, it was just… *sobs*

      And of course as always I can’t see the video and the Miseducation is not on my iPod at work BUT this CD was soooo my life that I still have the original CD sitting to my immediate right of the keyboard.

      *puts song on repeat*

      Is this just a silly game…that forces you to act this way? Forces you to scream my scream… then pretend that you can’t stay.

      I’m done… I gotta walk away. *woooooo-sah*

      1. Flyy says:

        And when I try to walk away, you’d hurt yourself to make me stay… this is crazy…

        *casket closes*

        I’m turning off the CD now. But i’mma tell you what… *finger snaps* Maxie you just provided a wine/sob/Waiting to Exhale moment w/out the wine or the movie.

  11. Alovelydai says:

    “It could all be so simple…but you’d rather make it hard. Loving you is like a battle & we both end up with scars.”

    This line slays the very core of me.

  12. funms says:

    This song!!!!!!!!!!!! sigh!
    feeling the urge to stand on my desk at work, screaming out the lyrics…….
    gets to me every time

  13. Reecie says:

    well yea the breakdown is when I start to “feel it” as everyone that was there could see. great song. but I actually didn’t get real emo, so that is much progress on my end. I was truly enjoying the moment.

    I actually used this song and a couple others from the album for my AP English thesis in high school. I was THEEE BIGGEST Lauryn Hill fan then. Considering I had never even loved anybody like that (dysfunctional and violent) at the time, I was still able to dissect those lyrics and get an A. I will say because of that, the song reminds me of HS and this guy I lovedededed that was never even actually my boyfriend–but our deep attraction and infatuation for each other and love (as I knew it at the time) will definitely be something I’ll never forget. we’re still friends to this day.

    another good song you have to vibe to after its said and done is “I Used to Love Him” by Lauryn with Mary J. Blige.

  14. Muze says:

    oh gosh. i almost teared up just reading that part of the song.

    sigh. sad because i used to love this song, too.

    streets are watching, so i’ll just say that i canNOT listen to this song, specifically that part. i literally left a store last week when it was on. i just can’t. lol.

    when you never consider someone not always being there for you, and they simply walk away… whew. this song and me just ain’t friends anymore.

    great post.
    still womped i couldn’t be there in DC.

    1. max says:

      You were missed Muze. But you woulda been crying in the club because there was no escaping tihs song.
      You know what song I have to run away from? Mary J. Blige – Everyday it Rains. That song is like a knife in my fucking chest.

      1. Reecie says:

        I love that song Max! but I love all sad ass Mary songs. I think the one that kills me is “The Love I Never Had” real tears. every time.

        1. max says:

          Oh and Missing You!

          “I’m not in love it’s just some kind of thing I’m going through…”

          Yeah motherfucker. That’s the lie I tell myself ALL THE TIME!

        2. Flyy says:

          Oh!! Reecie, I know bout them sad Mary songs. “Not Your Child” (I think that’s the name) w/ Mary and Chaka or Patti or Aretha… I think it was Aretha. I cries MY LIFE to this song and i don’t eeeeem know why. At the time I’d never had a man cheat and have a baby on the side… I think Mary sang my life into existence.

          *le sigh*

        3. Muze says:

          you might as well give up life if you’re sad and ANY Mary song comes on. lawd.

      2. Muze says:

        yeah that would’ve been such the opposite of a good look. lol

  15. Malik says:

    *looks around*

    *eases back out of this conversation*

    1. max says:

      Hahaha Malik! There must be a song that gets you a little bit. I know you have feelings!

      1. Malik says:

        The closest I can think of is Ghostface’s ‘Child Play’, but that isn’t in the sad variety. Jean Grae (Love Song, It’s Still a Love Song, My Story, etc.) does have a handful of songs that makes me feel guilty by association to any and all men.

  16. Leecie says:

    “I keep letting you back in. HOOOOOW can I explain myself? As painful as this thing has been, I just can’t be with no one else. See I know what we got to do-o-o-o. You let go and I’ll let go too.”

    By far the most powerful moment of the song that gets me EVERY TIME! I’m always cautious when this song makes its way into my playlist rotation :-/

    1. max says:


  17. Capricorn says:


    *shakes fist at Max for this post*

    *goes to cry and rock gently in corner*

  18. Flyy says:

    I just wanna know when I’m gonna make the full progression from Ex Factor to I Used to Love Him?

    I used to looooove him, nooow I don’t…

  19. Kema says:

    I am feeling all of these comments and Lala’s almost made me shed a tear at work. I have to go…

  20. Tellylonglegs says:

    “If I’m not careful I will get choked up at that part of the song. ”
    Primary reason why I haven’t listened to this song in months. Come to think of it, any love/ heartbreak song gets me choked up. My question is do you ever get over that ex that makes these songs so hard to listen to?

    1. max says:

      I think you get just enough over them to be able to function. You’re never all the way over it and that’s why these songs are still like a punch in the face, but you get by.

  21. RedLady821 says:

    i just want to hug all of you ladies because this song gets to me too. I was in a very dark place in my life and I was in a lot of pain. I won’t elaborate but you can only imagine.

    I clearly remember taking my sons to the UniverSoul Circus at 3 and 4 years of age and being in a complete DAZE because of what was going on in my life relationship wise. I was going through the motions as a mother, but I was in a lot of pain as a wife.

    Nuff said.

  22. Phidelity15 says:

    So I’m new here (a reg over at VSB) but with all the black blog love being shared I came on over to visit.

    I’m so feeling this post. Ex-Factor is the defacto break up song. BUT the two songs that really get me every.single.time are Alicia Keys’ Why Do I Feel So Sad and Goodbye. Play those two back to back and you can wipe me off the floor with tissue cause I’m nothing but water.

    I think because you can hear Ex-factor randomly on any given r&b station (or playlist) its truthiness doesn’t sting as bad and after awhile you can block out or become immune to the emotions you would need to bring forth to relate to the song. But for me its the songs you don’t hear on the radio, those are the ones that just slay me.

    1. max says:

      Welcome! Thanks for checking me out 🙂
      And you’re right – with songs like this, you hear them so much that you do get a little desensitized to them…I can hear this and not get too sad if I don’t sing along. But the random songs that you never hear….they will kill you dead.

    2. Alicia’s Goodbye is such an underrated song. It’s really one of her best. I’ve heard her perform it live when I’ve seen it in concert… she really brings it home.

  23. AllUBitchezIsMySonz says:

    “see no one loves u more than me.& no one ever will..”
    “& when I try to walk away u hurt yourself to make me stay. This is crazy.”

    This shit right here ni99a… This shit right here…
    I’m only 22 and didn’t know how powerful this song was til I fell in love and wanted to fall outta love bcuz I knew we jus weren’t meant to b…

  24. streetztalk says:

    #1 @ me or dap me, lol… Yes it was me who made the proclamation

    #2 I was clearly tipsy and clearly exaggerating

    #3 There’s a difference between emo and in tune with emotion. I feel so that you can be felt! Im an artist, and Im sensitive about my ish! And you just inspired a post, lol…

    That song had me in a moment more because of how ill Laryn was, and it all fell down.

    1. Yo, that last sentence is deeper than rap. I wanted to address that in my comment but it got too long. When you think about it, that song has also grown to represent our relationship with Lauryn as fans. It’s like we’ve been singing that to her for years and years and years. Every time we think she’s grown she does some crazy ish to let us know that it ain’t working.

    2. BGirl says:

      I wasn’t there but I had a feeling it was you lol Dont be ashamed of your feelings

  25. Ok, I’ve been wavering on whether I should comment on this joint because of the high amounts of estrogen flowing round here these days. I love this song. I’ve loved it from the first moments I heard it on the Tuesday morning it dropped when I was in high school. Like Reecie, at the time, I only appreciated the song for its sheer musical quality. The melodies, the hook, the bridge… all perfect. More than just that, the production on it is phenomenal. Think about how it starts, the first thing you hear is the soft happy, all is right in the world sounding chimes quickly put to their end by the thudding, depressed sounding 808 – it could all be so simple (chimes) but you’d rather make it hard (808). Everything about this songs production is perfect… the electric guitar solo toward the end gets me every time.

    When I hear it now though, it’s not just the music anymore, the song reminds me of the one time in my life where I felt like I really, really hurt someone. For her and I the second half of the first verse really resonates … when I hear it, I hear my her singing it to me:

    Is this just a silly game
    that forces you to act this way
    forces you to scream my name
    then pretend that you can’t stay
    tell me who I have to be
    to gain some reciprocity
    see no one loves you more than me
    and no one ever will.

    This was my relationship with that person in a nutshell. It was one of those situations where a ridiculous amount of early sexual chemistry combined with very little chemistry in everything else and one majorly unexpected and extremely stressful situation all made for some really intense feelings of togetherness one moment followed by a really intense desire to run the other way (albeit, more on my end) in the next moment. Hurts me to my soul- still – to know that every single time she thought we were growing, I’d do something to let her know that, for me – it wasn’t working. It’s like the great blemish on my resume. The constant reminder that, I’m not really that different from most other guys, that for her I will forever be a villain and there’s nothing I can do to ever change that.

    Lastly, the part of the song that gets me most, that I feel like people miss all the time, comes right after Lauryn sings the words “See I know what We have to do”… before she sings the next line she speaks them in the background… she says “YOU let go” with the emphasis on “you.” That part always gets me. It’s like… she’s deferring to dude. Like… if it’s so bad and if you really aren’t in love and you really don’t like me, then why can’t you make this easier for me and just leave. Eventually, in my situation, I did… but that didn’t make it any less painful.

    Great Post as always Max.

  26. Ezel says:

    the part “no one loves you more than me n no one ever will” was the last thing i ever said to my ex. funny. 6 years of my life like a lauryn hill cd… boy did i act the fool…. not letting him back in was the smartest thing i ever did…
    now the new guy is good. learnt tht there’s nothing wrong with arguing if there’s great make up sex 🙂
    thnx maxie needed a reminder of how far i’ve come “he was the ocean and i was the sand… oh i USED to love him”

  27. Miss Jenkins says:

    I just had this song on repeat last week! It’s crazy how it feels I’m hearing it for the first time every time I hear it.

    1. max says:

      If this song was a kick in the face the first time you heard it, it never stops being that.

  28. Little Miss Sunshine says:

    My part is CERTAINLY… “i keep letting you back in- how can I… explain myself? As painful as this sh!t has been- i just can’t be with no one else”

    I sang this song like once a week for 3/4 of my undergrad career. smh.

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