Sounds Like: Slow-burning R&B that zooms in on emotional highs and lows
For Fans of: Dawn Richard, Solange, Aaliyah
Why You Should Pay Attention: Last year, H.E.R. released H.E.R. Volume 1, an EP that shows off her rich, velvety voice and diaristic lyrics about love, pain and all the emotions in between. While the exact identity of H.E.R. is shrouded in mystery, her connection with audiences is plain as day; the Volume 1 track "Focus," which shows off her voice's delicate higher end, has racked up 2.81 million streams to date, and she's received Twitter co-signs from Alicia Keys and Bryson Tiller. Last month, H.E.R. released the seductive "Your Way," which samples Aaliyah's 1996 track "Come Over." She's planning to tour and hit the TV circuit later this year.
She Says: "I was almost afraid to speak on the things I've dealt with as a woman. Once I released [the EP], I realized that I'm not alone, and that I am a voice for women who feel like they're alone in these situations. This project came from an emotion, and that's what I want it to be about – not what I look like or who I'm with, but the raw emotion and support for women. Seeing people Tweet my lyrics and really feeling for me, feeling what I'm feeling ... in one of my lyrics I sing about 'the watch I just got for you,' and some girl was like, 'Yes! I bought him a watch!' I can be happy because these women feel me."
Hear for Yourself: H.E.R. Volume 1 is streaming in full on SoundCloud. While the gently frustrated "Focus" has soared on the streaming charts, "Wait For It" creates a sublime tension between H.E.R.'s voice and the track's stuttering beats. Maura Johnston