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20 November

Summer Walker, the star who doesn’t want to be famous

 

 Before becoming a stripper, Summer Walker would sing in her bathroom. Although sometimes intimidated by the world, the singer nonetheless represents the future of American R’n’B. A portrait of a shy up-and-coming star who wants to become herself again.

By Alexis Thibault

 

Clinging to a guitar as if it were a security blanket, Summer Walker hums in front of her camera, resurrecting the MySpace era without even meaning to. Her bathtub is the stage, her bathroom the auditorium. Later in the evening, she slips into her stripper's outfit and abandons herself to the furnace of the club that serves as a release valve. The two episodes will be shared on Instagram as if this split personality is perfectly normal. 

 

Today, Summer Walker is 23 years old. She's been composing music for as long as she’s been able to. If she could, the Texan-born chanteuse would slip her scores under the door and flee in silence… but the star-system has decided otherwise. In 2018, she was signed by the LVRN label, which is also home to the singer Atlanta 6lack. Very quickly, R’n’B fans knighted this soul girl of a new genre who could burst into tears on stage at any time, tormented by the very gazes and affection of the people who love her.

“Girls Need Love” by Summer Walker.

 

Launched in mid-November, the video for Playing Games condenses – musically and aesthetically – all the elements necessary for an effective R’n’B track: lying on a black sofa, wearing a fluffy pink bra top which reinforces her character of praying mantis tired of men, Summer Walker contemplates a man tied up above her. With the album Over It, she attempts to flee her own reality. Parachuted into the music industry, she has to embody someone who feels good. An implacable sex-bomb whose Haribo aesthetic, however, conceals a dark melancholia. 

 

Summer Walker doesn’t hide it: music is her drug. A vital need and yet a therapy at the same time. She doses herself with the neo-soul of Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse and then fantasises about the 90s before taking up the melodies of Usher. Shy, sometimes clumsy, when she sang Girls Need Loveon the Jimmy Kimmel Live show last February, she modestly wore a black hooded sweatshirt. The show made her famous, thanks to her vintage groove, the delicacy of Jhené Aiko and the attitude of someone who doesn’t give a damn about success. We love Body and Stretch You Out shared with the rapper A Boogie wit da Hoodie. Here or elsewhere, Summer Walker is still in her bathroom.

“Playing Games” by Summer Walker.

Like an agoraphobic celebrity suffering from their status, Summer Walker produces love songs in slow motion. She could have been happy with composing for others but she started the infernal machine. Her tour has already begun, the young woman has to face the crowds in spite of barely being able to face the wold. Unable to control her image, she handed it over to capitalism, going from a fantasy young singer to a pin-up fashioned by the market. But there’s no denying it, Summer Walker’s soul is nothing short of invigorating. 

 

Over It, de Summer Walker, available.

“Body” by Summer Walker

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