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On Wednesday the 19th of October, rapper Tinuke released her debut mixtape, H.E.R. She’d been working on this tape for about a year; and spent a lot of time trying to find “meaning and purpose”, because it was “very important to [her] that [she] felt great about what [she] was bringing to the world.

The tape’s release date doubled as the birthday of Tinuke’s father; and this was no coincidence, but a calculated gesture of honour to her dad.

H.E.R is an acronym for Having Exreme Rage; and Tinuke’s rage here was triggered by personal experiences (such as “betrayal from close ones”) and societal oppression – patriachy and anti-blackness, particularly. “Why is the world so damn harsh to blacks?,” she questions rhetorically on Track 6 – Never a Slave – which could rightly be said to be the song that perfectly capures the mixtape’s general sentiments. Tinuke turned her rage into inspiration and channelled it all through her music; declaring, again on ‘Never a Slave,’ “i’ll never be a slave to you // and i’ll never be a slave to whose // trying to control how i feel.”

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H.E.R is essentially is a declaration, a bold declaration by a self-assured artiste who’s here do do her thing, her way. It is worth mentioning that some of the great things about the tape are what Tinuke didn’t do: she raps, straightforwardly – as opposed to doing that very boring thing of rapping on every other track about one’s ability to rap. Also, nowhere on the tape did she make it about her being ‘a/the/that female rapper’ – that very limiting trope typically evoked to present the rapper as some novelty, or to unnecessarily attack other female rappers in a space that is already quite hostile to women.
Tinuke’s impressive debut mixtape is not without it’s lows, though: the guest verses were generally underwhelming, and her excessive (and sometimes unnecessary)  use of ‘nigger(s)’ and ‘bitch(es)’ gets tiring and tedious.
Moving forward, Tinuke’s going to be “working with a variety of producers,” and “collaborting with some of the artists [she’s] met along [her] journey.”

H.E.R mixtape is available (below) on Soundcloud:

Tinuke can be follow on all social media platforms at: @tinukenoah.

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