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It's been less than three years since we were even introduced to Kacy Hill—via the eargasm that was her first single "Experience"—and yet it still feels as if her debut album is a long time coming.
To be fair though, to justify our impatience, "Experience" (released September 2014) was a stomp of an entrance. Like the kind that made Kanye West sign her to G.O.O.D. Music, just three months later, after hearing only that. Like the kind that made him "jump off the couch," as Hill admitted to Complex, during a meeting between them in Atlantic City. It was one of the first songs she'd ever written: her hypnotic vocals floating high above a persistent and glitchy electronic pattern.
But first, here's how Hill found herself in a room with Yeezy. After graduating from high school, the singer moved to Los Angeles from her hometown of Phoenix, Ariz., to take a year off before entering college. For a few months, she stayed on the couch of a woman she met on Craigslist. (Haven't we all? No.) She also started modeling for American Apparel. Which is where and how she was discovered (and selected) by Vanessa Beecroft, the Italian artist who created both the stage design and choreography for West's Yeezus Tour, to audition for a model-dancer spot on stage. You know what comes next: she got the part.
But two weeks earlier, while still working at an ice cream shop—haven't we all? yes—Hill had written and recorded "Experience" (produced by the REVOLT-approved JAYLIEN). However, she'd only done so at the urge of Stephen Garnett, a photographer she'd met as a model, who wanted to work on a music project. (He'd later end up directing the track's music video). In fact, despite singing in choirs and playing classical music while growing up—more specifically, the oboe and saxophone—Hill hadn't thought to pursue music as a career until, well, you guessed it, she performed as part of the Yeezus Tour. So she quit after the first leg; the song ended up in the hands of Kanye "through one of the people who were on tour with him"; and she was flown to A.C. while 'Ye was doing makeup show dates. Fin.
So, in September 2015, just one year after her breakthrough debut, Hill released her follow-up single "Foreign Fields," a track driven by handclaps and the kind of somber keys chords James Blake would approve of, before swirling into euphoria. It would serve as the lead single to her first EP, Bloo, released the next month, that would also spawn the popular streaming track "Arm's Length," a rousing piano romp that wouldn't sound out of place in Adele or Emeli Sande's catalog.
What followed for the years afterward though was Hill being invited and enlisted to sign her distinct signature on unsuspecting sounds every which way. In 2015, unaffiliated audiences got introduced to her on Travis Scott's Rodeo highlight "90210" when her ethereal met his Auto-Tune. She did the same the next year on Kid Cudi's Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' cut "Releaser" with some operatic, albeit uncredited, background vocals (just a few months after dropping her own non-album single "Lion"). And, just last month, she brought her wavering folksy delivery over the strings on DJ Cashmere Cat's 9 track, "Europa Pools."
But finally, after a handful of one-offs, guest appearances, and a five-track EP stunted by two remixes, Hill has announced her debut album Like A Woman. And, based on her candid description, its influence stems from two aforementioned sources: modeling and her mentor. The former of which has inspired her to reclaim her sexuality, and the latter of which encouraged her to find her voice.
In an open letter published to her official site, Hill explains that the resurfacing of her American Apparel images, upon her newfound fame, made her avoid sexuality and feel as if she had lost ownership. But it was Kanye West's advice that caused her to make "serious changes in her sound and in her story."
And the first evidence of that sound comes via her two recently-released singles, the title track and "Hard to Love."
Produced by DJ Mustard, Terrace Martin, and DJDS, "Like A Woman" is a slow-burner that utilizes piano chords, finger snaps, pitched background wails, and Mustard's trademark rubbery bounce to support Hill's displays of passion, both urgent and understated.
And on "Hard to Love," producer Stuart Price (see: The Killers; Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor; and even Diddy's "Let's Get Ill") gifts Hill with instrumentation that swells and gallops and creates an uplifting electro-pop soundscape that she can confidently break through. And does.
'Like A Woman' is due June 30.