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Here (stylized as HERE) is the sixth studio album by American singer and songwriter Alicia Keys. It was released on November 4, 2016, by RCA Records. Keys had finished creating and recording material for the album before she found out she was pregnant in 2014, which put the record on hold. The first single from the standard edition, "Blended Family (What You Do for Love)", was released on October 7, 2016. "In Common" and "Hallelujah" were featured on the deluxe edition of the album.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Here received a generally positive critical reception. As of May 2017, the album has sold 131,000 copies worldwide.[7]

Here
The black and white picture shows woman with black curly hair, wearing a silver earring and looking straight at camera.
Studio album by Alicia Keys
Released November 4, 2016 (2016-11-04)
Recorded 2014–2016
Genre
Length 45:55
Label RCA
Producer
Alicia Keys chronology
Girl on Fire
(2012)Girl on Fire2012
Here
(2016)
Singles from Here
  1. "In Common"
    Released: May 4, 2016
  2. "Blended Family (What You Do for Love)"
    Released: October 7, 2016

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Keys told Humanity magazine that "the music for this album was created so fast—the fastest I've ever created music before. It was like raining down every night, like storms of music was just coming out. It was crazy because I never experienced creating like that; I came in already knowing what I wanted to start to talk about. I knew the topics that I wanted to address and I knew who I wanted to assemble to help me create this very powerful sonic and lyrical journey. So everything I did was with so much intention that when the music began it made sense that it just came so fast. We did probably 30 songs in like 10 days."[8][9]

Here is Keys' first album in four years, following Girl on Fire (2012). Keys said that she was not planning a hiatus, but after she finished recording material for the album, she found out she was pregnant which "put a different time spin on things."[8] Her son Genesis was born in December 2014.[10]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.3/10[11]
Metacritic76/100[12]
Review scores
SourceRating
Consequence of SoundB–[13]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[14]
The Guardian     [15]
The Independent     [16]
The Irish Times     [17]
NME     [18]
Pitchfork6.5/10[19]
Rolling Stone     [20]
Slant Magazine     [21]
ViceA–[22]

Here received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 76, based on 14 reviews.[12] Andy Gill of The Independent praised Keys' writing and musicality, regarding her work to be "grounded in a melodic appeal that’s almost magnetic."[16] In his review for Vice, Robert Christgau hailed it as Keys' best record since her debut Songs in A Minor, deeming it "simultaneously raw and political", and crediting Swizz Beatz for defining "the funk her adventures in gospel grit demand, evoking Memphis thump while remaining so hip-hop that the samples stay in Nas-Wu-Tribe territory".[22] The Wall Street Journal's Jim Fusilli complimented Keys' expressive piano work and affecting vocals, as well as eschewing commerciality and "pursuing new sounds without abandoning that kind of classic soul she does so well". The album, he noted, "delivers a satisfying, enriching experience from a woman who, by respecting her audience enough to challenge it with change, engenders respect in return."[23] Entertainment Weekly writer Nolan Feeney said that Keys performs with a "fire in her voice and an almost rap-like cadence, spitting out the words like her head will explode if she doesn’t." "The combination of her subject matter and her urgent delivery", Feeney considered, "makes Here [Keys'] most vital release in years — and a welcome addition to 2016’s rich canon of albums ... that address black life in America.[14] Nick Levine from NME praised Keys' "looser and more youthful" approach, and appreciated that she "doesn’t shy away from the personal here" while also looking outwards in explorations of social struggles. "With Here, it feels as though she’s dug deep to produce a set of genuine, heartfelt and relevant anthems."[18] Ludovic Hunter-Tilney wrote in Financial Times that Here was animated by "politically active music" such as Sam Cooke's 1964 Civil Rights anthem "A Change Is Gonna Come", and suggested that Keys' "powerful vocals carry the memory of Lauryn Hill in her prime."[24]

Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine proclaimed that Keys "seems at once more awake and relaxed than ever on her first album in four years." Praising Keys' "naked" performances throughout the album, he found that the album avoids formula and radio staples, and mixes "the political with the personal."[21] The Guardian's Edward Bowser considered the album "a sobering piece of work", adding that "despite an undertow of glum earnestness, Keys has never sounded so committed."[15] Emily Mackay of The Observer noted the album's "warmth, wisdom and confident class" and stated: "In a year of superb, politically charged albums by black American artists, Alicia Keys’s sixth record is a standout, on which her signature piano takes second place to her urgent voice."[25] Keith Harris, writing for Rolling Stone, remarked that the album "downplays her classical training in favor of a grittier R&B edge." He described the melded atmosphere Keys inhabits as "the sounds New Yorkers overhear blasting from passing cars and seeping from pedestrian earbuds, reimagined as a hectic but coherent symphony", and regarded her "socially consciousness lyrics as tough as her sound" while also commending her expression of hope.[20] Colin Mcguire of PopMatters declared Here Keys' "rawest and best album of her career", evoking the edge that made her debut "so memorable", and representing her "most fully exhilarating musical experience" to date. Mcguire praised the heart, grit and raw emotion Keys conveys, and said that Keys "decided to make something so raw, so honest, so palpable, that it should be all but impossible for soul music lovers to ignore this release."[26]

In a mixed review, Andy Kellman of AllMusic felt that "Keys' invigorated energy level and need to simply expel ideas, rather than refine them, lends the album a hollow quality" as a number of the songs "are not lacking in energy or conviction, but they're raw as in crude" and "the outside productions don't add a whole lot". Kellman, however, praised her impassioned vocals and noted that "for all the haste, the album does contain a batch of career standouts".[27] Vanessa Okoth-Obbo from Pitchfork objected to Keys "inhabiting the personae of multiple characters" when, according to Okoth-Obbo, she "still doesn't tell us much about herself". While she complimented Keys' "willingness to experiment with her sound" and her flexing "dexterity, moving easily between ballads and more uptempo beats and varying her delivery", she remarked that the album "does little to further our understanding of who Keys is" and lyrically here she "rarely betrays a sense of adventure".[19] Nina Corcoran of Consequence of Sound noted Keys' "political, social, and emotional honesty" and commended her for being "too busy pouring herself into the world to let the world pressure her into following its outdated rules" while "embrac[ing] bareness" in her music and voice. Keys "sings with authenticity and passion" and her lyrical narratives, Corcoran said, "become a pile of truth", which Keys uses to express her frustrations and "motivate action". Corcoran found that although the album has a "jarring" structure, which represents Keys' "likely scattered" thoughts and emotions, "surprisingly, Here doesn’t struggle to balance [the] range of topics." The album overall doesn't cater to radio, and the songs "resonate deeper than the concrete jungle it colors."[13]

PromotionEdit

On October 9, 2016, Keys performed a concert Here in Times Square in Times Square, New York. The performance was televised by BET on November 3, 2016.[28]

Commercial performanceEdit

Here debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 with 50,000 album-equivalent units, of which 42,000 were pure album sales.[29] It topped the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums on November 26, 2016 (making it the seventh time),[30] as well as the UK R&B Chart. It marked her lowest opening sales for an album and was a considerable drop from her previous efforts, The Element of Freedom (2009) and Girl on Fire (2012), which opened to sales of 417,000 and 159,000 units, respectively.[31] It's Keys' seventh top ten album in the United States, and, along with The Element of Freedom, her only studio album not to top the Billboard 200.[29] Apart from the United States, the album peaked within the top ten on Canadian Albums Chart, Five Music Chart in Taiwan and Schweizer Hitparade Chart in Switzerland. It failed to enter the top twenty in the United Kingdom, peaking at number twenty-one on the UK Albums Chart. In Australia, the album failed to enter the top ten, peaking at number fourteen on the ARIA Charts. As of May 2017, the album has sold 131,000 copies worldwide.[7]

Track listingEdit

Here – Standard edition[32][33]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."The Beginning (interlude)"1:04
2."The Gospel"
3:01
3."Pawn It All"
  • Keys
  • Swizz Beatz
  • Batson
3:10
4."Elaine Brown (interlude)"
  • Keys
  • Keys
0:50
5."Kill Your Mama"Keys2:40
6."She Don't Really Care_1 Luv"
  • Keys
  • Swizz Beatz
6:07
7."Elevate (interlude)"
  • Keys
  • Keys
0:48
8."Illusion of Bliss"
  • Keys
  • Dean
  • Batson
  • Lilly
  • Keys
  • Swizz Beatz
  • Batson
5:23
9."Blended Family (What You Do for Love)" (featuring ASAP Rocky)
  • Keys
  • Batson
3:31
10."Work on It"
  • Keys
  • Williams
3:34
11."Cocoa Butter (Cross & Pic Interlude)"
  • Keys
  • Keys
0:59
12."Girl Can't Be Herself"
  • Keys
  • Batson
  • Lilly
  • Martin
  • Keys
  • Batson
2:39
13."You Glow (interlude)"
  • Keys
  • Keys
0:25
14."More than We Know"
  • Keys
  • Batson
  • Lilly
  • Keys
  • Batson
4:35
15."Where Do We Begin Now"
  • Keys
  • Batson
  • Lilly
  • Martin
  • Hyman
  • Keys
  • Batson
2:47
16."Holy War"
4:22
Total length:45:55

Notes

  • "Pawn It All" features background vocals by Swizz Beatz.
  • "Blended Family (What You Do for Love)" features background vocals by Tish Hyman.
  • "She Don't Really Care / 1 Luv" contains samples of "One Love", written by Nas, Q-Tip, and Jimmy Heath, and performed by Nas; it also contains interpolations of "Fool Yourself", written by Fred Tackett and performed by Little Feat.
  • "Elevate (Interlude)" features uncredited vocals by Nas.
  • "Girl Can't Be Herself" features uncredited sample of Grace Jones - La Vie en Rose.

PersonnelEdit

Credits adapted from Here liner notes.[37]

ChartsEdit

Release historyEdit

List of release dates, showing region, edition(s), format(s), label and reference.
Region Date Edition(s) Format(s) Label Ref.
United Kingdom November 4, 2016 (2016-11-04)
  • Standard
  • Deluxe
RCA [33]
United States [32]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ Blistein, Jon (October 7, 2016). "Hear Alicia Keys' Heartfelt Ode 'Blended Family' With A$AP Rocky". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  3. ^ Pearce. Sheldon (October 7, 2016). "Alicia Keys Announces New Album Here, Shares A$AP Rocky Collab "Blended Family (What You Do For Love)": Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  4. ^ Renshaw, David (October 7, 2016). "Alicia Keys Announces New Album Here With A$AP Rocky Collaboration". The Fader. Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  5. ^ Young, Alex (October 7, 2016). "Alicia Keys announces new album, Here, shares ASAP Rocky single — listen". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  6. ^ Goodman, Jessica (October 7, 2016). "Alicia Keys releases A$AP Rocky collab from new album, Here". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
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