HER has been in front of our faces since she was young, though we didn’t know it at the time. Back in 2007, at the age of ten, Gabi Wilson made her television debut on The Today Show, she would also perform at the Apollo Theatre that year. This was followed by appearances on Good Morning America and The View and her first film role in a movie called School Gyrls in 2008. Though she was signed to RCA records at age 14, she wouldn't really make waves in music until 2011, with her debut EP, H.E.R. Vol. 1. Not only did she make a deliberate change to a specific “slow-burning” R&B sound, she changed her entire aesthetic and essentially remained anonymous for the first couple years of her career, though her name stood for “Having Everything Revealed.” and is a nod to Common’s “I Used to Love HER.” She would go on to say, "The mystery is a metaphor for who I am, or who I was at the time of creating the project... I feel like oftentimes we don't like to be open as people about our emotions or things that we are going through. At the time [of recording], I was very closed off except for when I was writing or when I was in the studio…I am a voice for women who feel like they're alone in these situations. This project came from emotion, and that's what I want it to be about – not what I look like or who I'm with, but the raw emotion and support for women." Later she would say, "I feel like this is the era of the anti-star. I really just wanted it to be about the music, and get away from, 'Who is she with?' and 'What is she wearing?" This was a genius idea as the music was high quality and being supported by industry veterans like Pusha T, usher, Tyrese, Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keys and Bryson Tiller.
But it wasn’t just her relative anonymity that made HER a top artist. It’s the fluency with which she plays the piano and guitar, it’s vulnerable and soulful vocal delivery and the consistent high quality of her music.
Two months after the release of her debut project, an artist named, HIM, which stands for “Her in Mind” released his debut project, HIM Volume 1. The entire aesthetic of the project is an exact copy of HER’s concept, with each song on the project being a response to a similar one of HER’s. People immediately began to assume that the two were connected and outwardly communicating with one another. Though HER would never corroborate this and I don’t think HIM did either.
In 2017, HER would release H.E.R. Vol. 2, followed by H.E.R. Vol. 2, The B-Sides later that year. HIM would follow suit by releasing H.I.M. Vol. 2, another response album, the deluxe version and then the instrumentals later in 2019. While it was easy to find out who HER was around this time, HIM was still very much of a mystery, so I’m here to clear all of that up…six years later.
The real identity of HIm is an artist named Guylaire, though he was going by the name, HIM to some exent, until at least 2021 as he released several singles and two EPs under the name Her In Mind. In mid-2021, he would start up a blog where he’d post lyrics, goals and other thoughts. He also released his EP, Pronouns, but I’m assuming that’s been pulled down. That or it's just really hard to find. I understand the purpose of naming an album “pronouns” when your name is HIM, but searching “him pronouns” won’t likely lead people to the project.
Though HER would never address HIM directly, in September of 2018, she tweeted “
It's never cool to copy someone's whole concept and call it a 'response' to try to come up. Be you! Be original," likely in response to the following and buzz that HIM was beginning to develop. There was no shortage of artists that had chosen to remain more anonymous at this time. SIA is an artist that has almost entirely removed her physical appearance from all of her music and videos and even in the 90s, Ghost Town DJs released “My Boo,” while never seeking publicity for themselves or the singer on the track.
However, it can’t be ignored how closely HIM mirrored HER. Though it could just be a coincidence, it's worth pointing out that even one of his subsequent projects made use of polaroid photos, which was a key element of HER’s I Used to Know HER, which was released in 2019.
HER would go on to win Best R&B Album and received four other nominations at the 61st Grammy Awards. Her full-length album Back of My Mind, which was released in June of 2021, spawned the number one single “Damage.”
In 2020, HIM would release his single “Homebody” and in 2022 he began teasing a new project, The War Love Couldn’t Win. HIM has a beautiful voice and his music clearly shows inspiration from SZA, HER, Summer Walker, Bryson Tiller, and others, but he put some people off due to his HER responses in 2017 and 18.