Rising star Jessie Reyez nabbed two nominations for the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, including Push Artist Of The Year and Video With A Message — a major feat in and of itself. But it was the latter, a nod for her 2017 release "Gatekeeper," that speaks volumes of the 27-year-old's burgeoning career. So, who is Jessie Reyez? People are taking notice of the singer-songwriter's vocals and message.
After earning recognition for 2016 singles "Figures" and "Shutter Island," the Toronto native dropped her debut EP, Kiddos. On it came the emotional track in which Reyez recounts her personal experience of alleged sexual harassment. Later that year, she claimed the industry figurehead who harassed her was "Drunk in Love" producer Noel "Detail" Fisher after two female artists filed cases against him in May 2018. Elite Daily reached out to Sony team for comment on the allegations brought against Fisher in court as well as those made by Reyez but did not hear back by the time of publication. "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," she tweeted in May.
Born and raised in Canada, the songstress moved around and worked odd jobs until her 2014 acceptance into The Remix Project's Academy of Recording Arts. It was there that Reyez's career picked up speed, and she landed her first major collaboration with King Louie. She's since signed on with Island Records, teamed up with Calvin Harris, and sold out a number of tour dates. In May, she was named the first featured performer in Youtube's Artist on the Rise program. While fans obviously took notice of "Figures" — it racked up an impressive 26 million views on Youtube — "Gatekeeper" made everyone listen.
The song's lyrics go, "Twenty million dollars in a car / Girl, tie your hair up if you wanna be a star / Thirty million people want a shot / How much would it take for you to spread those legs apart? ... Oh I'm the gatekeeper / Spread your legs / Open up / You could be famous / If you come up anywhere else, I'll erase you."
Along with the song, Reyez released a short film Gatekeeper: A True Story, which details her harrowing experience. "If you’re not using your p*ssy, you ain’t serious about your f*ckin’ dreams," the male character says. "You’re f*cking up your chance right now." According to Jessie, the video was an honest depiction of events that went down when she was allegedly assaulted. "Everything that’s in there happened," she told Billboard, including the confession that she was "close to selling [her] soul that night."
I don’t think there’s anything special about me for deciding to not do it. I feel like humans, when you’re faced with decisions, you can go up and down, duality. That’s why I said when I wrote that song and we were deciding to put it out — and we were talking about how to put it out, I never wanted to put it out — we’re on this highest vibe of morality and I did it because of some heroic bullsh*t but it’s not true. It so happened I did it the same way other women who are strong and broken.
Despite first keeping the identity of her alleged aggressor quiet, after two women stepped forward accusing Fisher of sexual misconduct in May 2018, Reyez responded. "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," she wrote in the tweet. Fisher has yet to make a public comment about allegations made against him.
Reyez's decision to release the 12-minute film for "Gatekeeper" came out of her desire to not "dilute" the alleged story. "I wanted to get everything out. I didn’t want anyone to get a misconception of what happened, I wanted to go through it," she admitted to Spin. "I also didn’t want it to come off as this high and mighty, pious kind of thing, just because I happened to decide that I didn’t want to do it. Cause I feel like, we’re all human, and it just so happened that I said no."
Whether Reyez walks away with or without a win, she's making an important statement to the music industry. So, everyone listen up.