Record Label: Atlantic
Recommended Tracks: Intro- Track 1 and Gangsta- Track 19
Kehlani is a female R&B artist that prides herself on being from the Bay Area, and more specifically Oakland. She began singing and dancing both at very young ages but focused on singing after hurting her leg in middle school. In 2009 she became the lead singer of a group called Poplyfe and the group auditioned for America’s Got Talent in 2011 and finished in fourth place. Here is where she gained recognition in the media and was told she didn’t need a group to back up her vocals. In 2013 Nick Cannon took her under his wing after seeing her potential on the show and moved her to LA where she released her first single “ANTISUMMERLUV”. In 2014 Kehlani released her first mixtape “Cloud 9”, followed by a second mixtape called “You should be here” in 2015. Her first studio album “SweetSexySavage” was released on January 27, 2017 and remains the only album she has released to date.
The first track on the album fittingly called “Intro” and in fact doesn’t even feature the voice of Kehlani at all. It starts off with a spoken word poem written and recited by a then 22 year old local LA poetry writer named Reyna Biddy. The one minute poem talks about darkness and light life and the ups and downs. The poem opens with “My condolences to anyone who has ever lost me. And, to anyone who got lost in me” which speaks powerful words of the raw emotions poured into this album and it doesn’t stop there. She talks about her different personas and the labels she is given as a woman saying things like Superwoman, angry woman or crazy woman to describe how she can be at different times, but that they aren’t negative things. The point of the poem is to shine light on women for being themselves and not letting others put them down for doing so which fits well with the strong and powerful feminist feeling Kehlani emulates in SweetSexySavage which is why it is a perfect way to start off the album.
“Gangsta” is the last track on the album and quite possibly the most known due to it being featured in the blockbuster film Suicide Squad. The slow R&B sound on this song is very unique which adds to why it was such a standout off the album. The song was originally featured on the movie’s soundtrack which was released in the late summer of 2016, but she then went to put it on the album as well. The song has a mellow but seductive sound and is used for portraying the relationship of Harley Quinn and the Joker in the story line. The chorus of the song insinuates that to her gangsta means loyalty and trust which is what she is singing about in this song.
Kehlani has released many singles like “Honey” one of her most popular to date and has been featured on many other artist’s songs, but has yet to put out a following full length album, although she says it is in the works. Currently Kehlani is 8 months pregnant, but that didn’t stop her from releasing a single and music video less than a month ago. Kehlani definitely has some incredible vocal abilities and people are beginning to recognize her name especially after touring with big pop stars like Demi Lovato and Halsey or just being affiliated with G-Eazy who is also from the Bay Area. Similar artists to Kehlani currently include people like H.E.R., Tinashe, Jhene Aiko, or Ella Mai if you enjoy Kehlani they are worth giving a listen to.