Keys says “it really is the first time in my life that I’m 1,000% here in my skin.”


Alicia Keys lets down her guard on Here.

“It’s a contemplation of who we are and how we really can choose who we want to be,” Keys told USA Today of her new album. “Do we want to build walls and have all that fear or do we want to break those walls and get to feel someone? You know, we act like things can only be negative. We can absolutely continue to grow and be more accepting and understanding. We’re all works in progress, all of us.”

The act of taking down walls is heard throughout the delicate politically charged ballad, “Holy War.” “We can hate each other and fear each other / Build these walls between each other,” she warns over a plunky acoustic guitar. “Baby, blow by blow and brick by brick/ Keep yourself locked in, yourself locked in.”

Keys put forth a handful of songs from the record ahead of its release, including a short-film titled The Gospel, set in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.

Then there’s the intricate A$AP Rocky-assisted track “Blended Family (What You Do For Love),” which Keys dubs is her most “raw and honest creation yet.” It centers around Swizz Beatz’s sons, Prince Nasir and Kasseem Dean Jr., from the producer’s previous marriage to Mashonda. When Keys first started dating Beatz, Mashonda criticized her on Twitter claiming she was a home wrecker.

“It really is the first time in my life that I’m 1,000% here in my skin, in the world, in my personal experience within this world,” Keys continued. “I’m grateful I’ve come to a place where I can be vulnerable and honest and raw and myself and talk about it and not hold back and not make it perfect and pretty.”

For many years, Keys put up walls to protect herself.

“I’m trying to figure out who built it,” she wonders. “I think I built a portion of it for protection and out of immaturity really. As you grow and become wiser, I don’t think you feel the need to become so concerned with things because you’re in your zone. I also feel like the industry kind of built a portion of the wall just because of the nature of what the industry used to be. There was a much bigger divide between the artist and the people… and so, this whole time in my life has been about breaking down these walls.”

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