H.E.R. - I Used to Know Her: The Prelude EP
I Used to Know Her: The Prelude
The hip hop scene is currently crowded with women who are weaponizing sexuality to create majorly successful music. From Cardi B to Nikki Minaj and back to Lizzo empowered women are brushing off calls to reign in their personality and dial back the sex in order to be more palatable to the mainstream. The criticism feels like masculine insecurity, the idea that powerful women can't utilize all their talents when making music. That is one side of female Hip Hop, but there is another side where underground beats and long form ideas shine. Tierra Wack, Noname and H.E.R. carve out a different path for themselves, This brand of Hip Hop is far more in line with Lauryn Hill than it is Lil Kim, extremely different approaches but both just as valid. This EP, her second record, finds H.E.R. settling in to classic hip hop beats and then effortless sliding between singing and rapping. Her music feels endowed with soul, a deep connection to what she is saying rather than just a bunch of word soup coming out as quickly as possible. H.E.R. softens her lyrics, but that doesn't mean she's soft. Her lyrics are cutting and direct, often speaking with a plain voice so her meaning is not misunderstood. You would expect this to mean that a lot of this EP is confrontational, but the opposite is true. H.E.R. is not just trying to tell you how it is, she is trying to let you in to a place where true understanding and honesty can begin.
There are also songs about love, songs that make you feel warm and wrapped up. You can hear the truth that H.E.R. is speaking and it just connects instantly. There is an honesty to her vocal that is undeniable and songs like "As I Am" where the rapping subsides and she just croons her way through feel infinitely better. The song also gets into the idea of not only self acceptance but self love, recognizing that our partners should support that idea as well. It is a pretty complex idea to get across in three minutes but H.E.R. manages to do it. I keep finding new moments to like and new ideas being expelled when I listen to this record again and again. H.E.R. is doing something different and it really works. The fact that there is space for this style in what is becoming a more and more crowded field is really heartening. I can't wait to hear what H.E.R. is going to bring us next.
8.0 out of 10