Not too long ago, Keri Hilson was a force to be reckoned with in R&B and pop music. She had hits, including “Turnin’ Me On,” “The Way I Are” with Timbaland, “Knock You Down,” “Slow Dance” and of course, “Pretty Girl Rock.” But at one point in her young career, things veered into a dark and negative space. All of a sudden she seemingly had issues with fellow singers, including Ciara and Beyoncé (which she actually took to the music in the latter situation). And it didn’t help that people gave her hell when she was asked to hold a magazine cover for a picture on the red carpet at the Soul Train Awards and promptly said no at the sight of Beyoncé and Jay-Z on the cover.
Now, it is believed by fans of the “Lemonade” singer that with enough online harassment, they were able to get Hilson to walk away from the industry. But the 36-year-old singer and songwriter, who has experienced a resurgence of popularity after years of reclusiveness on social media, says don’t believe the hype.
At least that’s the message she shared after someone wondered what a new song from her would sound like at this point, and pined over the idea that “We got her out too soon.” Hilson responded by saying nobody “got her out” per se.
“I left at the height of my career to handle some internal biz,” she responded, “soul searching complete.”
As she stated last spring while on the Silence the Shame panel in Atlanta, the internal work Hilson speaks of includes the ongoing struggle to deal with depression.
“Literally, seven years of my life have been a battle with depression and I can’t say that I’m all the way clear, but I’m in the clear,” she said. “When ‘Pretty Girl Rock’ was at the top of the charts, I was bearing the weight of some personal and professional mistakes and they just weighed so so so heavy on my spirit, and I was just not myself.”
“It all just kind of spiraled for me, and became something I had never been through, I had never recognized myself as a person who can’t pick themselves back up,” she added. “I mean, I was literally on stage crying.”
What aided her in being able to not crumble under the weight of everything was knowing when to tune out the Internet trolls, as well as the fake love.
“When we are not okay, when we are a little low or a lot low, there is a protection mode that has to happen because you don’t know how much our subconscious is soaking in the criticism and the praise,” she said. “For two and a half years, I went ghost from social media. I don’t need the false love or the unwarranted hate. I don’t want any of it so I just left.”
Hilson logged out of social media for a while to build herself up, and when that work was successful, she returned, more confident and sure of herself than ever.
“I think I had to give up music for a while. I stepped away. I thought it would just be a year, it’s been six maybe,” she said last January. “I realize now I’m grateful for all of those years because I have built myself back up.”