Image Courtesy of H.E.R.
*I may have just confirmed the face of the woman behind the music after writing this feature today, look at this screenshot from the new film inspired by H.E.R. music! You decide for yourself :) You heard it hear first folks #itemmag
June 16th, 2017: Marks the day that all H.E.R. music fans from around the world join together to support the musician in the release of her EP Vol. 2. Admittedly, I too counted every minute down to the final drop time at midnight; I couldn’t tell you enough just how impatient I was for this release, but the wait was so worth every second. And I think the rest of H.E.R. fans can agree.
It was just last year, September 2016, when a new face emerged onto the R&B scene with the early release of Vol. 1, a 7 track EP under the mysterious name “H.E.R.” Ironically there was no face attached at all to the beautiful melodies, with little say from RCA Records.
Even four months after the first release, there had been no name, no age, or anything of that nature by the label, to identify the artist behind H.E.R. Unlike any artist before H.E.R., she took on a challenge to keep her identity hidden from the public.
The musician revealed to the Los Angeles Times that the “H.E.R.” acronym stands for ‘Having Everything Revealed’ and that maintaining a sense of mystery was the only way she felt she could capture how authentic the songwriting was to her music.
There is something so honest about that reflection, one that I can personally endorse; It’s not so much about the person behind the art as much as it is about the actual art; as any artist will tell you.
But H.E.R. music undoubtedly stands in a lane of its own. And if you’re sleeping on any of this, it is seriously your loss.
Even today, just a short 9 months after her first release, H.E.R. still wants the music to speak for itself. This explains why she strives to keep her identity hidden, for now that is, as some fans questioned if we would finally meet the face behind the art during the her tour. But something tells me we wont just yet. Maybe she will sing behind a shadow or something of that nature, but that only my speculation really.
Either way, music enthusiasts scoured over the internet a hundred times over to find the secret identity of the artist, for months after the first release. While fans put their fingers to the search engine, some had dubbed H.E.R. to actually be Gabi Wilson, another musician with a similar voice and style that debut to a larger audience back in 2014 with a single, Something To Prove.
Image Courtesy of Gabi Wilson
During the 2014 BET Music Awards, Wilson was also chosen as the Music Matters Artist as an an emerging artist to perform her single, (where musican Common mentioned Wilson was a poet and songwriter that could play five instruments.)
Common's statement would back that of H.E.R.’s impressive talent, where each of H.E.R.’s tracks captures many different instrumental transitions throughout both Vol 1 and Vol 2. A poet in all respects.
Then in March 2015, Wilson premiered a cover of Drake’s “Jungle” on Complex Magazine. This may be the main reason why fans are so sure Wilson is H.E.R., who also released a track titled “Jungle” on Vol. 1. Coincidence? Listening closely, I can agree that they may just be the same artist.
Images Courtesy of H.E.R.
H.E.R.’s music is beyond the relatable. H.E.R. words stand for something bigger than just her own story now; all of the confessions that she have revealed as an artist in her sound apply to those that have faced similar love and relationship struggles.
If you can't relate to any of this, chances are you're living in a false reality.
When I first connected with H.E.R. music, was on the very day she released Vol. 1. I too, similar to H.E.R., have been inspired by the relationship of a lover (one that I thought I had also lost a connection during that same September of her debut.) And I can’t tell you anything other than I felt the vibes of the H.E.R. music filling my soul with some hope. I must admit that I have played Vol. 1 every single day of my life from the moment it dropped and I couldn’t be more thankful for it! And now that Vol. 2 is here, I can’t even.
It only sounds like an obsession, because now it is (lol).
It’s not often that I find a musician that speaks so directly to circumstances in my life, but H.E.R. music is one of them. Everything about it is so inspiring that all I want to do is create art. So much as for me to say that H.E.R. music is becoming a new muse for my work, similar to how Rihanna has impacted my work in the past.
It was funny, because I actually remember seeing months ago a slow-mo reel on Rihanna’s Instagram of her vibeing out to H.E.R.’s track “Focus” with the window down and hair blowing in the wind. And what is even more interesting is that H.E.R. paid homage to Rihanna by releasing a “Yeah I Said It” Remix on her YouTube account, which is straight fire, omg. The original “Yeah I Said It” version came from Rihanna Anti album, which also gave me inspiration for iTEM MAG’s first print issue. Take a listen if you haven't heard it yet!
Video Courtesy of H.E.R.
All I’m saying is that we are here to fully support a future collaboration between Rihanna and H.E.R.: imagine how legendary.
H.E.R. also had another industry icon giving shout outs, so you know she’s the real deal.
I digress momentarily, but back to the new Vol. 2!
Originally the EP was suppose to drop two weeks before it actually did, but H.E.R. took to social media to apologize to her fans that it would be delayed until June 16th. She felt that it was necessary to rearrange and add tracks. And understandably so, sense we all have a bit of perfectionist in us.
There was something so raw about this though. And as a fan, and as one of the first responders to H.E.R. talent, I get it. Whatever changes she did to make for this perfected EP allowed the music to take her message to the next level.
I find myself dumbfounded at how much of H.E.R. music is so relatable. Seriously. I mean I was already expecting such greatness, but then these tracks met my expectations and then went way far beyond them. I value that, I love that! And now I don't know what do with myself other than put H.E.R. on repeat and write this article.
The first three singles originally released from Vol. 2 were “Say It Again”, “Every Kind Of Way”, and “ Lights On”.
Though I completely admire all of H.E.R.’s songs (trust me, my neighbors hear me singing at the top of my lungs in the shower every morning) personally for me, Say It Again is my song. It is a song of strength, about taking back your power as an individual in a relationship. It feels like a song of liberation, where you can feel the feelings being put into action and giving into the moment.
Every Kind Of Way, serves as reminder of to us about what unconditional love is about, that it's never really an easy thing. Basically, it’s the love letter I never wrote to my ex, but I wish I had. Just listen to the song and you’ll know what I mean. When it starts out with, “I want you off my mind and on me. Holding me closer than we’ve ever been before," is like asking for another go with a great love.
Lights On was the 8th track on the release and the third single before the drop. This song feels like is about our desires for others, how we crave sexual connection with those we love in that intimate way.
What followed with the second EP drop was five other songs that help fill in a gap of the H.E.R.’s second chapter. And man were that everything I had hoped for an more.
The track, Still Down, in so many words translates to: are you still down for me?
Avenue, is simply about the communication battles we face when being in a relationship. Some battles we fight, some we just let go and move on.
Gone Away feels like it is a song about neglect that often forms in relationships. We try to convince ourselves to ignore signs of failing relationships because we fear that lose. It’s almost like hearing the beginning of a disconnection between two people that is only happening because both of their egos were too strong for one another. Just take a look at these lyrics:
I Won’t, seems like it is dedicated to a slightly different someone than the someone of H.E.R. other songs. Or maybe multiple someone’s? She sings of a one sided relationship, where a casual friend like figure is caught up feeling some kind of way about H.E.R., but she's not about the relationship on that level.
Sometimes we just crave the company of others and not the actual commitment of an established relationship, because our love is simply somewhere else. I’m sure this is a predicament we’ve all fallen into some time or another.
Which leads me right into the next song, Changes. This track is about the possibility of running out of those opportunities to make it right with that special someone, as well as taking some responsibility for our actions. I think it is about being honest with the one you love and telling them how much they truly mean to you.
[Pre-Chorus]: Maybe I'm the one to blame, That’s just how the game goes. When you're feeling alone, Everybody got somebody that they mess with on the low. Now I just want you to save me.
Compared to Vol 1, this release is equally as powerful. I don’t even think there is even a comparison at this point between how good each volume is, especially when they are both officially on replay in our studio.
The first time I ever heard H.E.R. music, I had made a claim to the iTEM family that she was doing something really different than other people in her genre. I said she was sort of like the female version of the music industries Trap Soul singer, Bryson Tiller (who I am also a big fan of.) Unknowingly at the time, would we come to find out that H.E.R. is joining Tiller on tour this summer. So you better believe we already bought our tickets to the concert happening August 15th, at the San Francisco Bill Graham Auditorium. I needed that concert merchandise like yesterday.
I do still wonder if, and when she will ever reveal her true identity. Whatever the choice may be, we’ll be on the sidelines with our pom-poms rooting for you! I don’t think I have to ‘say it again’, with this case.
Set It Off Tour Dates
August 3 – Atlanta, GA @ Fox Theatre
August 5 – Southaven, MS @ Landers Center
August 6 – New Orleans, LA @ Lakefront Arena
August 8 – Houston, TX @ NRG Arena
August 9 – Austin, TX @ Statesman Skyline Theater at the Long Center
August 11 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rawhide Event Center
August 12 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
August 15 – San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
August 18 – Vancouver, BC @ Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre
August 19 – Seattle, WA @ WaMu Theater
August 20 – Portland, OR @ Theater of the Clouds at Moda Center
August 23 – Denver, CO @ Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre
August 25 – Dallas, TX @ The Bomb Factory
August 29 – Miami, FL @ Watsco Center at the University of Miami
August 30 – Orlando, FL @ CFE Arena
September 1 – Richmond, VA @ The Classic Amphitheater
September 2 – Vienna, VA @ Wolf Trap
September 3 – Norfolk, VA @ ODU Constant Convocation Center
September 6 – Lowell, MA @ Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell
September 7 – Mashantucket, CT @ The Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino
September 8 – New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall
September 9 – New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall
September 11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Skyline Stage at the Mann Center
September 13 – Toronto, ON @ Echo Beach
September 14 – Detroit, MI @ Masonic Temple Theatre
September 15 – Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom
September 16 – Louisville, KY @ KFC Yum! Center
Watch the new H.E.R. inspired film below and you might just witness H.E.R. if you're paying attention closely... 3:07 <3
I have reached out to H.E.R. and the label for comment and will update with any new information as it arises. Enjoy H.E.R. Music everyone :) 6/16/17:
Tyler J. Drinnen, is the Founder and Editor in Chief of iTEM MAGAZINE. His primary goal as a Fashion Creative, is to document fashion history in the streetwear and art sector.
From the lens of an abstract visual content producer, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from Sonoma State University; where he wrote a weekly Opinion Column for The Star, dabbled with his own radio podcast format, titled Saturday Nite Scandal, and helped to create one of the first Professional Student Lead PR Firms in the USA.
From there on, he continued his work by interning with Sonoma Discoveries Magazine and then shortly after wrote and interned for Fashion School Daily, where he solidified his love for feature writing and working with emerging talents from around the world.
In December of 2016, he received an Honorary Master of Arts in Fashion Journalism from the Academy of Art University – And what an achievement that was, to be the first in his program to have graduated a full semester early – Bringing him to four design oriented degrees in a short five and a half years, nothing will stop him from bringing art of the few, to the eyes of many.
He has worked in the fashion industry for just over a decade, from commercial retail visual management to corporate level ghost writing and consulting. Now, in this exact moment, T.J.D. takes his life public with the independent urban California lifestyle based fashion movement, iTEM MAGAZINE: A Platform For Rising Artists.