For Jessie Reyez’s third-ever music video since signing to a record label and releasing her first EP, she decided to tell the full truth. “Gatekeeper,” released in late April, details an early experience she had as an aspiring singer in which a male producer tried to coerce her into exchanging sex for music industry access.
“It was so dangerous to my ambitions and so dangerous to my goals,” Reyez told Jezebel last week, and in the above video. “I remember getting home that night being like, man, fuck, if this is what it is, I don’t think I’m cut out for it.”
But if there’s a main defining characteristic of Reyez’s music, it is that she is unreservedly raw, a quality that is compounded by the drive so obviously within her. And so she pressed on. After winning a spot on a remix project with the rapper King Louie, she was encouraged to continue; a friendship with and support from Chance the Rapper ensued. And it’s to our good fortune: her singing voice has velocity, and she uses it to state plainly and witheringly her viewpoints on the world, which often includes indictments of shitty men. Her new EP, Kiddo, addresses a cheating ex, the aforementioned music industry predator, fuckboys trying to breach her personal boundaries—alongside beautiful ballads about her aspirations and dreams and sweet paeans to her parents, who immigrated to Toronto from Colombia before she was born.
Averse to genre, Reyez’s music joins acoustic guitar with rap cadences, R&B melodies with electronic beats; she’s really just out here trying to tell her truth in the most direct and unflinching way possible, which has a natural rebellion to it. As she explained to Jezebel in her visit, and was obvious from spending a short time with the powerhouse musician, the only rulebook she follows is her own. What a pleasure to behold.