The hazy orange sky of the last days of summer serves as a backdrop for our quick photo shoot with Jessie Reyez. As we spot a few spaces on the Midtown streets of New York, two regally aged women spot her striking a pose. “It’s Jessie!” one of the women say with glee as her pal smiles at the Canadian-Colombian songstress.
At first, they hesitate to stop, but Reyez’s warm aura allows them to have a quick exchange. The women point out how they saw her performance the night before during the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards. “¿Tú eres Colombiana?” one says as the singer responds politely, “Sí.” After a few giggles, the ladies head down Madison Avenue while Reyez leans against a marble building for a few more shots, tickled by the moment.
Just the night before, the 2018 MTV VMA Push Artist nominee sat below a glowing moon man to deliver a can’t-turn-away TV performance of “Apple Juice.” The single follows Reyez’s critically-acclaimed EP, Kiddo, and leads fans into her second offering, Being Human in Public. Although she belted the vulnerable tune, the first-generation Toronto native appeared to stand confidently in her many “Apple Juice” truths. Donning her signature half-up messy bun and overalls, which read “NO ONE CAN BE ILLEGAL ON STOLEN LAND” and “THE #METOO MOVEMENT IS NOT F**KING NEW,” Reyez captivated her onlookers. Even Aerosmith rockstar Steve Tyler had to give her props for her vocal prowess.
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Happiness because in 2017 my team and I finally got to see some fruits of our labour – labour I been putting in since I can remember Fear because I’ve watched others squander it and I don’t want to do the same Happiness because I get reaffirmed daily when I hear that my music has helped someone through a difficult time Fear because I don’t ever want to be a hypocrite but sometimes I can’t even pull myself out of my own darkness Happiness because I get to share this with my folks Fear because I don’t get to spend as much time with family as I used to and I’m scared of getting my priorities mixed up Happiness because people tell my mom I’ll be fine in this industry because my roots are strong Fear because I feel myself getting more and more paranoid Happiness because the dream is growing Fear because the dream is growing I’m not going to lie for the sake of being positive 2017 was unreal and beautiful but there are two very real sides to this and I’m just a rookie I want Grammy(s) and I want to die a legend But I want to remain humble I want to leave a massive positive mark on this world and do great things But I also want to find a partner I can trust that understands my priorities I want to sell out stadiums I want to build orphanages I want to sell out the ACC And I want to sell out BARCLAYS But I want to do all this with my soul in tact I need to I never want to lose sight of how sacred music is to me and how many times it’s saved me In the last 360 days I grew a bigger smile but it also forced me to grow a thicker skin. I’ve always been paro – this year it got amplified. Lost my phone so much I finally realized maybe it’s my subconscious doing it on purpose. One of my saving graces has been being around people who care without any hidden motives. Creatives who care. I find solace in knowing that other people find comfort in a window to my battles and my demons I’ve been fortunate enough to watch others do the same and one of those open books I respect nuff is @bryanespiritu Thank you for contributing your genius and collaborating on this @rootscanada jacket And to the visual savant 📸 @pharrisdesigns for making me look decent lol 🙏🏽❤️
While passing her offstage, the legend whispered “You’re great” to the uber-emotional starlet and kissed her hand for confirmation, causing a viral stir. “That sh*t was nuts. Steven Tyler came up to me, and it was just so unexpected. Dude, I can’t even,” Reyez laughs, now settled on a piano bench at the VIBE office. She unravels her bun and kicks a pair of white Under Armour slides towards me, to better seat herself with her legs crossed. A dense crown of waves tumbles from atop her thickly arched brows to below the waistline of her cutoff Wrangler shorts. One thing is clear: Reyez’s beauty is as effortless as the likely success of her soon-to-release EP, Being Human in Public and its 29-date North American tour.
Her forthcoming compilation is a continuation of the unabashed truthfulness penned over the seven tracks which garnered Kiddo loyalists globally. The video for the poetic guitar-smashing breakthrough, “Figures,” features both Reyez’s tears and the lyrical consideration of those persuading her to play for the other team. Still, the raw pain waxed on the lovesick hit is what pierced the core of an upward of 48 million listeners on Spotify alone. Reyez’s audience clearly identifies with placing receipts in front of a lover, as a result of their allegiance being made a mockery of—a scenario many can relate to.
“Sh*t, receipts, man! I love that. That’s lit. That’s a beautiful thing to say. Thank you,” she agrees with a chuckle. “Man, I think life would be a lot easier if people were able to stand in their mistakes and not backtrack. If you did something wrong, own it. Like, hold your own.”
Another gripping Kiddo offering manifested in “Gatekeeper,” which fearlessly laid bare the unsavory work relationship she had with the alleged rapist and “Drunk In Love” producer, Noel “Detail” Fisher. The song’s chilling short film visual, Gatekeeper: A True Story, which was nominated for the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards Video with a Message, depicted his sexual misconduct towards her during the early stages of her career.
Today, at 27, beyond musically forging a path of her own, the crooner is advocating for sisterhood in a male-centric industry. “Sisterhood represents change and solidarity. [There is] power in numbers. I feel like it’s a long way to go, to see a change that’s gonna last [longer] than when the headlines start getting old,” she says.
Consequently, Reyez responded to the TMZ article (which read “Detail Music Producer Accused of Raping, Abusing 2 Female Artists”) with a tweet: “One night, over 6 years ago Noel ‘Detail’ Fisher tried this on me. I was lucky, and I got out before it got to this. I didn’t know what to say or who to tell. I was scared. Fear is a real thing. The girls that came out are brave as hell.” While she applauded the bravery of the two on-the-rise artists, who documented the rape claims, two well-known singers, Tinashe and Bebe Rexha, co-signed sexist maltreatment from Detail on social media, too. The internet was sent abuzz with the raised voices of upset fans and survivors of all backgrounds.
READ MORE: Allow Jessie Reyez To Give It To You Straight, No Chaser