H.E.R. has officially dropped her first full-length album, Back Of My Mind, and the Grammy-winning artist celebrated during her exclusive iHeartRadio Album Release Party on June 21.
Back Of My Mind is H.E.R.'s debut album and features 21 songs in total, including guest appearances from artists like Ty Dolla $ign, Cordae, Lil baby, Kaytranada and Thundercat, Chris Brown, Yung Bleu, DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller, and YG.
During her iHeartRadio Album Release Party, fans were treated to exclusive behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage (featuring a guest appearance from her cute dog Mochi) of H.E.R. performing Back Of My Mind songs like "Come Through," and "Closer To Me." In fact, she said of her pup, "That's my road dog, man. His name is Mochi and he's a puppy, he's only eight months, nine months, but he's just such a calming spirit and such a great dog. And I love having him around, but sometimes he gets real bossy and he wants to play while I'm trying to rehearse."
H.E.R. also listened along to some of her new music including "I Can Have It All," "Bloody Waters," "We Made It," "Paradise" and "Trauma," as well as talked about the new album and more during a special Q&A with Angie Martinez and answered questions from some lucky fans who joined the event virtually.
One fan took it back to the beginning of her career, and H.E.R. explained her growth as an artist over the years, and her decision to take an anonymous approach to her image after releasing her first EP. She explained:
"I spent so many years grinding, learning myself, learning my craft, practicing my craft, learning live shows, listening to artists because it was stuff I wanted to do anyways, and that I love to do. But, even through the frustration, push through that figuring out who I was going to be, who I was going to become and not planning it, but just leading with my passion and leading with the thing that I love, and that's music and creating. So around six, I got signed when I was really young, but I was given all that time, thankfully, by MBK entertainment to really develop and grow. And so when I was 17 or 18 and I had graduated high school, I kinda made the decision: Am I going to go to college and kind of do this, or am I going to do this all the way? So I made the decision, let me just do this all the way, and you know, obviously take a chance on myself. And somebody told me and Jeff, my manager, the only way you're going to know if people love your music, and if people gravitate towards you and connect to you, is if you put music out. And at that moment, it was like, that was God telling me you're ready, it's time, you're ready to put out music to be who you're meant to be, and to present that to the world. It's like taking stuff out of the oven before it's ready — you don't want to do that. So I released my first project in 2016, I took a chance on myself and I decided, because we live in a world of focusing too much on the exterior things, I wanted the music to speak for itself. I do not want to be here, take the pretty pictures and become this huge, overnight sensation. I wanted to grind it out like a rapper, you know, let me put up this mixtape EP, and spread it. And then Rihanna made a video towards it, a bunch of different artists started posting it, like who is this? What is going on? And the reaction, I didn't expect, because there was no huge push or a marketing plan. It was, let me take a chance on myself and my team. They really believed in it. And we put just a little bit of money into the project, like whatever we had, whatever we could do to make it happen, to get it mixed, to get it mastered and all that stuff and put it out. And, the rest is history."
Another fan asked H.E.R. who she would want to collaborate with, and aside from her biggest inspiration, Prince, the recording artist has a few other people in mind she'd like to work with. H.E.R. explained, "There's a ton of artists that I would have loved to collaborate with in the past, like Prince. He's one of my biggest inspirations, so I would have loved to have worked with Prince or just played with him at one time. But, Stevie Wonder is another one I want to write with. I'm a huge Kendrick Lamar fan, I feel like me and Kendrick would make something really go. And Drake. I haven't worked with Drake yet, and we always talk about it, but hopefully that'll happen soon."
Back in the fall, H.E.R. performed on Saturday Night Live while Adele hosted the sketch comedy show, and explained how it all ended up happening: a chance encounter with the UK singer in Jamaica. H.E.R. recalled, "I was actually in Jamaica prior to [SNL] and I wanted this villa in this hotel that we're staying in and they're like, 'Oh, you can't have that one.' I was like, 'Why, who's there?' They were like 'Adele is there.' And I was like, oh my gosh. I forgot about it. Two days later, I'm hearing karaoke happening and I'm hearing a voice, a familiar voice singing 'Valerie' by Amy Winehouse. And I'm like, that sounds like it's Adele. And we got to talk, and long after that she was like, have you been on SNL before? And I was like, no. The next day I got a call from my team. And they were like, Adele wants you to perform on SNL. And I was like, that's why she asked me! It was a crazy moment."
H.E.R. also talked about the type of legacy she'd like to leave after a fan had asked her to describe it in one word, and for the Back Of My Mind singer, that word is "impact." She explained, "My purposes are constantly evolving and changing and I'm gaining new ones. I'm learning more about myself and in my impact. I think that's probably the biggest word. It would be impact. Just to know that I inspired or empowered other young girls who were like me before to chase their dreams, and that they could be anything they wanted to be, that they didn't have to be boxed into a certain image into a certain genre, into a certain message. We, as women, represent so many different things and I'd like to be a champion for women to be able to stand for whatever it is, and for men and for everybody to just be able to be their true selves, and be successful, and be able to do that every single day."
After making her movie debut in Yes Day with Jennifer Garner, H.E.R. would like to continue on and follow her passion for acting — but also revealed that "music comes first." She told Angie Martinez, "Acting has been a passion of mine for a really long time, but music comes first, you know, one world at a time. It's the conquer, but the goal is to be like Childish Gambino, who has a show and is also an incredible artist. And, that's always been the goal just because it's fun. Acting is fun and it's something I feel like I could do. And, I think it's going to be really fun to see me playing different people, and you'll see it soon. I'll be on the big screen soon."