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Review: H.E.R.’s Brutally Honest ‘I Used to Know H.E.R.: The Prelude’

Gabi Wilson’s latest is a biting portrayal of young black womanhood

her album review

Timothy Saccenti

Over the last two years, this former Artist You Need to Know has been slowly emerging from the shadows while offering up brutally honest snapshots of young black womanhood in the 21st century. Her new EP – the first release since she revealed herself at June’s BET Awards – opens with a bit of a gauntlet-throw: “Lost Souls,” a broadside against celebrity’s illusions, borrows from Lauryn Hill’s “Lost Ones” and features H.E.R. (a.k.a. Gabi Wilson) rapping in a no-nonsense manner that adds heat to her biting cultural critique. She shows off a more laid-back flow on the gently blooming “Against Me,” while the regret-filled duet with Bryson Tiller “Could’ve Been” and the dreamy “As I Am” show her talent for bridging the lush instrumentals and matter-of-factly gorgeous vocals of the Quiet Storm era with the more restrained aesthetics of recent R&B. H.E.R.’s early disguising of herself was, she once claimed, a way for listeners to focus on her music; this sterling EP shows that even after unmasking herself, her own focus has only become sharper over time.

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