By Tatiana Rodriguez
A new and upcoming artist I have been listening to is H.E.R. No, you did not read that wrong, either. Her real name is a mystery, just like her face. She recently signed to RCA records and her E.P H.E.R volume 1 was on the iTunes R&B charts at #1. However, no biographies or pictures about the mystery singer can be found.
What’s even more interesting is that her self titled E.P exploded online with no information about who the artist was. Alicia Keys raved on social media about the 7 track project, and Bryson Tiller posted one of her sultry post to his social media, “Focus.”
I found out about her because of Bryson Tiller. My roommate, Amelia, went to his concert for New Years in 2015, and H.E.R was the opening act. Amelia and I have very similar taste in music so I knew I had to check H.E.R out. I’m glad I did because I’m obsessed with her music and, more importantly, her lyrics.
I know this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an artist remain a mystery. When The Weeknd first came out in 2011, he remained anonymous until he could no longer hide his identity. Pop singer Sia performs with her back to audience members while singing under an enormous wig. The common theme is that these artists want their fans to “focus on the music rather than their appearance.”
I truly appreciate that statement because we live in a world based on likes and followers. If a certain post doesn’t get enough likes, we feel ashamed or not worthy. I often find myself stalking random beautiful women on Instagram, looking at how many likes they get on a post versus myself. H.E.R doesn’t need social media glorification, instead she uses her music to do just that.
The cover art is her figure standing in front of a blue background with “HER” light above her, her curly hair rolling down her body. To me, that image is powerful. She is in a powerful stance, like a boss woman, on her own. There is no-one surrounding her and we don’t even know what she’s wearing. In its own way, the cover is truly inspiring to be able to be in charge of yourself. The acronym stands for “has everything revealed” – ironic, right?
However, H.E.R is a bit different from others who have done this. She has no features on her tracks, and she said in an L.A Times phone interview that she worked on the E.P privately until she had to finish a few things in the studio. She knows exactly what she wants to sound like and ropes the audience in with her nostalgic vibes. To me it sounds like I’m listening to old school Aaliyah laced with Drake in his Drakiest of times, “Take Care.”
“I want people to feel the emotion…”- H.E.R interview with NPR Music
The name comes from the idea that she would never be “that girl.” The girl that continuously falls for the wrong guy and never sees a pattern until later. She ultimately found herself becoming “that girl.” Furthermore, she set on a project that was a coming of age story. We follow her through each song, traveling with her through passion and heartbreak. On her E.P., she covers Drake’s “Jungle,” but does so with feminine view point. Only deviating away from the originally lyrics slightly, she gives the song a new vantage point for the woman’s eye.
One of my favorite tracks is “Focus.” The sultriness in her voice and a sense of need without desperation—this is one of the tracks you feel complete emotion in her voice and can almost relate to what she’s saying.
“Me… Can you focus on me/Baby, can you focus on me.” – Focus lyric
I’m not sure if I’ve been in love because it was such a toxic relationship and we were so young, but I can 100% relate to that opening lyric; wanting and yearning to be seen by your significant other. I can only imagine what it must be like, and H.E.R makes me feel some type of way. I truly feel for her, and I almost want him to notice her, to listen to what she has to say to him. She has the effect of making her listeners believe that they are right beside her, facing the same challenges and hardships.
In the same interview with L.A Times, she stated that she wanted “women to feel how emotional and vulnerable I felt and to understand that they are not alone and that these are all human emotions.” H.E.R is a strong and empowering artist who makes fans yearn for that old feeling of wanting to be seen. She also holds herself to a high standard in other songs by realizing that boy ain’t sh*t.
There is strong speculation about the true identity of this sultry voice, but honestly, I don’t care. Her music is plenty loud enough that it shouldn’t matter what H.E.R true identity is. Whoever this soulful and sultry voice belongs to, just know I can’t stop obsessing over your lyrics, and knowing that he isn’t worth my time.