THE LAST MAGAZINE: KACY HILL
Clarity. Rarely do we feel it. Even rarer still for a 23-year-old artist whose blossoming career is pegged, thanks to her spot at G.O.O.D. Music, to the ever-controversial Kanye West, but the musician Kacy Hill makes it clear that she has no qualms about seeing his name before hers, papered across headlines and click-bait pieces, thanks to the strength of her own work and identity. “I don’t think the Kanye affiliation discredits my own work and how much effort I’ve put into it,” she says.
That’s because behind that splashy connection is a début LP that softly resists the characterization of femininity, echoed best in the song “Clarity,” which comes late in the run of her new album “It’s really slow and orchestral and beautiful,” Hill says of the track. “That one I did for myself.”
On “Clarity,” deep, cavernous bass lines ripple along reverberating vocals. Together, as with every song on the album, they sound like attempts to dislodge the rough, revealing the carats and facets within. Lyrically, you get the sense that for Hill, rupture is a part of self-discovery. And that self-discovery ought to be mined for songwriting. Just ask any great author or poet—the early work usually develops from autobiography.
And Hill’s is one that has moved at an enviable speed. Born in Phoenix, she eventually moved to Los Angeles, where she lived alone from nineteen to twenty-two. In that time, she picked up modeling gigs for American Apparel and was cast for West’s Yeezus tour. What might have been considered social suicide for some became a turning point. Hill left partway through to write this album, West heard it, and she was quickly signed to his G.O.O.D. Music—as one of only two women on the hip-hop label.
That was almost four years ago.
As an emerging star, Hill, now twenty-three, is no stranger to a curious gaze. The public eye still wishes to project clear-cut simplicity, even—or perhaps especially—when it isn’t there. “I think there’s still very much this mindset that boils women down to the ‘hot one’ or the ‘cute one’ or just being a one-sided person,” she says.
Take the name of the album, It’s a simile, an analogy. But what used to imply weakness or hysteria now embodies a different kind of woman for Hill, “anyone that challenges your perception of who you are,” she explains, “to challenge what is expected of you.”
For Hill, sex appeal, made most apparent in her crimson-hued video for “Like a Woman,” need not add or subtract from the work. She is, after all, a natural performer. “I was really conscious of making something that would translate into a meaningful live experience,” she explains of the visuals that accompany the album, “something that wasn’t boring or dragged along.”
The result lends itself to cinema, with its ethereal progression and haunting vocals that prove pretty can be powerful. The collection of songs could as easily rumble through Madison Square Garden, spotlights ablaze, as a dimly lit bedroom—alone, with nothing but reflections and reveries to guide you.
Therein lies the emotional upheaval of introspection, at once personal and universal. This journey through womanhood—in all of its bloody, bewildering beauty—is punctuated with rest stops. And here is the soundtrack that encourages wandering with purpose.
Like a Woman