New Jersey rapper Heather Hills on music and society during COVID-19

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Heather Hills
Heather Hills photo by Kacie Marie

Voices in Solidarity series

Heather Hills, 22, rising rapper and artist, otherwise known as TGirl, part of Central New Jersey’s music scene with growing label Trans Trenderz, grew up in Neptune, New Jersey. Hills has always held a brazen love of theater and music, growing into herself and navigating all the ways capitalism rules the world around us and beyond.

“instead of prioritizing the ending of the pandemic  New Jersey is prioritizing business”

Hills has a life-long relationship with music, theatre, and the power of realization of self and identity, power lifting into oblivious local music scenes and society in a new wave of Civil Rights for Black Trans life.

“Everything that’s happening in Asbury [Park] as far as street closures and 25 percent capacity, which isn’t even just Asbury, but New Jersey in general, I think is just showing that instead of prioritizing the ending of the pandemic it is prioritizing business,” said Hills.

Rapping since the age of 18, Hills grew up next door to the mile wide city where spaces such as The Asbury Park Music Foundation claim music has saved Asbury Park.

“The West Side’s Springwood Avenue was the epicenter of the music world in Asbury going as far back as the early 1900’s. The sounds of jazz, gospel and rhythm & blues filled the clubs and streets,” reads a June 14, 2019 blog post by jerseyshorevibe.com.

Ironically, musical spaces like The Asbury Park Music Foundation are located on the East Side of Springwood Avenue, the once and still designated white side of Asbury Park, now named Lake Avenue.

Hills reflected on how she believes people see her and her identity, versus how people actually see the prominent rapper and her identity as a black Trans woman. “It’s crazy to see how much Asbury, officially at least, uplifts the idea of community when actually the community for the most part gets ignored,” said Hills.

These are hometown issues that echo into the present of America as a country, the Black Lives Matter movement that waves and persists and intersects with a vengeance. And it is this current presidential election that is bombarding the curvature of blossoming division. In the words of Hills, “This two party system is just a failure in and of itself, and that by participating in it and attempting reform it is not going to amount to any sort of change.”

Black Trans lives are the most vulnerable to violence and prejudice in America. In order for people to wake up, the reality of rising hate crimes against black Trans women must be realized by the government as well as the people.

“The prioritization of business is what creates importance in this country. Once something is popularized, there is a sudden reawakened approach to protect and uplift. At the end of the day, a business prioritizes money over everything, and once they realize there is a demand they will jump on the bandwagon. For us it’s about what we want, and what we are trying to do,” said Hills.

Within the last two years, Hills and Trans Trenderz have been working around each other. After a spike in attention from a new campaign that actualized the uplifting of Trans artists, in particular black Trans artists, Trans Trenderz, reached out to Hills to join their roster. Hills said the organization has been there when nobody else was. Trans Trenderz has received some incredible buzz from the likes of Them, and the Recording Academy Grammy Awards site. This mid-September they will be spearheading the release of much of Trans Trenderz roster recorded in collaboration with Studio-G in Brooklyn, NY.

When Hills was a child, music was the way she and her family bonded together. Hills said her mother as a young parent passed down artists and culture. Hills took to this very strongly, and as a result, Janet Jackson became the basis for where Hill’s musical taste would flourish. From the ages of nine to 17 Hills bumbled into the world of theatre—another love of hers.

Hills has been involved in plays ranging from High School Musical to one act renditions of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland to actual ensembles and shows like Pride and Prejudice. Moving up in the world of theatre, Hills realized theatre was something she was passionate about. As a teenager Hills was already rapping. Theatre influenced the best of the performer, and the artist has prospered to where she is today.

Heather Hills’ 2018 debut record TGirl is streaming now on Spotify.

transtrenderz.com

Instagram.com/heatherxhills