In this post, I’ll be investigating two mysterious r&b artists: H.E.R. and H.I.M. They’re ‘mysterious’ because their real identities are unknown to the public, although this may not be the case anymore for the singer H.E.R., as you will find out later on.
So the big question on everyone’s mind is: Who are they?
But before we can answer that, we must gather some information about our artists of interest and look closely at the music they have released so far. This can give us some insight into who they could be.
H.E.R. is actually an acronym confirmed by H.E.R. herself (oh dear this is going to get confusing). It stands for Having Everything Revealed which is admittedly very ironic, seeing as we know nothing about her. But what we know so far is that she is currently signed to RCA Records and according to LA Times “H.E.R., the concept, was birthed in the studio while the singer was in the throes of heartbreak over a toxic relationship”.
Upon the success of H.E.R. Volume 1 in 2016, H.E.R. released her second album, H.E.R. Volume 2, on June 16th 2017.
Around a month later, H.I.M. released his album H.I.M., Vol. 2, on July 28th 2017. Due to the proximity of release dates, it would seem that H.I.M. was probably working on his own music beforehand, but became inspired by H.E.R., and so put his take on her style when releasing his album.
The album art shows our singers as silhouettes propped up against a single colour backdrop with their names shining in white light. I really like these album covers because of its simplicity. The silhouette emphasises the idea that these artists are hiding their identities on purpose. H.E.R. even comments on this secrecy in a phone interview; “the mystery is a metaphor for who I am, or who I was at the time of creating the project”.
The fact that only their names and Vol. 2 are lit up suggests that the focus is on their music rather than on them. The light from their names creates a shadow towards the viewer. This interplay between light and darkness is interesting because it reflects their own desire to be unknown while at the same time wanting their music to be well known.
The single colour, especially yellow used by H.E.R. in Vol. 2, creates a stark contrast between the artist and the background. It shows a recognition of the artist even though their real identity is kept a secret.
H.E.R. Volume 2
- Every Kind Of Way
- Say It Again
- Still Down
- Gone Away
- I Won’t
- Lights On
H.I.M., Vol. 2
- Only Way
- Say Less
- Stay Down
- Come Here
- I Will
- Lights Out (Hymn Too)
What I find fascinating is that the song titles from H.I.M., Vol. 2 seem to juxtapose H.E.R. song titles. This creates an internal dialogue between the two artists but also signifies that they are different from one another. While H.E.R. wants Lights On, H.I.M. wants Lights Out. I think H.I.M. did this intentionally to pay homage to H.E.R. and her music.
There have been many artists whom have concealed their true identities. In music, Daft Punk and Sia come to mind. When performing live, Sia wears a large blonde wig to cover her face meanwhile in her music videos, the focus is shifted to up-and-coming performers. Sia also mentions the lack of mystery in pop music as a reason for masking her identity. Although we know the masked men who make up Daft Punk, they rarely give interviews and hardly ever remove their helmets. Meanwhile in literature, Mary Anne Evans used the male pen name George Eliot to ensure that her works would be taken seriously and not judged solely on her gender. This demonstrates that there are many reasons why someone would want to hide their real identity from public display. However, the prevalence of social media and the vast amount of information online has made it harder to remain hidden.
So we still don’t know who H.I.M. is, but Lauren Nostro from Genius might have uncovered H.E.R.’s real identity. H.E.R. did a cover of Drake’s song ‘Jungle’ and that supposedly connects her to the singer Gabi Wilson who also did a similar cover. The fact that Gabi signed to MBK Entertainment/J records in 2010, which later merged with RCA, does give credit to Lauren’s claim.
Identity is important to many people because it allows them to stand out as individuals. Through researching about these artists, I have come to understand the significance of a person’s identity and why artists would prefer to keep their identity a secret.
It’s exciting that I don’t know who H.E.R. and H.I.M. are. I think it’s really impressive that they’ve managed to hide their identities for so long and instead focus on what is important to them: their music. Whether I know who they are or not, I’ll love their music either way.