H.E.R. began her career in abject obscurity, purposely keeping her identity hidden so that we would focus on the music. Now, the artist born Gabi Wilson‘s face is everywhere. Looking back, it may seem silly to some that the GRAMMY-winning star would willfully deny us the chance to admire her beauty (along with her musical talents). But, helloooo…that’s precisely the point. This spirit of voyeuristic entitlement coupled with unrealistic beauty standards provides the inspiration for H.E.R.’s newest single, “Anti,” which she debuted last night during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.
While many of the VMA performances ranged from pure spectacle to pearl-clutching raunch, H.E.R. brought a welcome change of pace. After an introduction by Lenny Kravitz, the singer took the stage with a live band and served up some realness smothered in soul. Considering the audience, we wonder if it hit close-to-home as she sang, “I know you can’t breathe / You can’t move in that tight dress / And your feet are killing you / Who you trynna impress?” This wasn’t an artist on a soapbox, but a woman who wanted us to pause and think, “Who am I doing this for?” As the performance built to a climax, H.E.R. delivered an electrifying guitar solo flanked by background singers (Hey, Ajanee, Hey!) wearing t-shirts that underscored the song’s message.
While Ms. Wilson didn’t walk away with a Moonman last night, she’s still a winner in our books. Watch the “Anti” performance below and get your tickets for H.E.R.’s inaugural Lights On Festival and her anticipated Hollywood Bowl concert with Ms. Lauryn Hill.