at a time where hip-hop and urban culture as we knoweth is starting to grow its first grey hairs, we are too, learning, evolving and maturing with it. the past decade has seen both female and male artists pushing their pens in bolder new directions, narrating the tales of the complex daily lives of the men and women of the 21st century. as their untamed stories start to emerge, we can finally look beyond the confines of what can be, at times, a sheltered worldview.
This is how I first got acquainted with Jessie Reyez and her music. Her vocal plasticity lends her the ability to deliver some of the most soul-nurturing ballads, as well as, the most visceral, unforgettable truth bombs you will ever hear. Some of the topics addressed in her work might be unequivocally controversial, but they are consistently original. You have to remember, Jessie might be loca, but straightjacket is costume made. (with fucking diamonds).There have been others that have flirted with the idea of tacking socially tabooed, career-suicidal topics such as misogyny, and the predatory sexual behaviours towards females (and males) in the past, but the level of honesty and intensity of this song remains unmatched.
The eerie production, the loud sirens, and Jessie’s snarling vocals left a profound long-last effect in my psyche since the first time I heard it. By placing the narrative from the assailant’s point of view, she unveils the mental bondage she encountered herself to anyone that was willing to listen: A trialling encounter, where her core values and integrity were questioned, and a life-altering choice had to be made. She could have accepted defeat, surrendered, but that night she asserted that if she was ever to be an artist, she was going to be one in her own terms. I regard the ‘Gatekeeper’ as one of the most defiant musical moments of current times, and a preamble to the change in mentality we are currently navigating through.
In previous interviews when asked about her intention while writing this particular track, she does mention time, and time again that she never had any other purpose other than singing about an in real life tribulation that she has been through, as she does with every other song.
“I am human, I try and keep it as honest as possible. I always write by myself, with myself. I feel like the more truth it has, the more it will resonate.” – Reyez declares – “I feel that we have progressed. People talk about “Gatekeeper” and the #metoo movement, but there still things that need to get addressed, not just in the music industry, but in every industry.”
Profiling feature on Singer Songwriter Jessie Reyez for tmrw magazine