Aug 18, 2015

Feature: Who is this Kehlani girl? by @simONE_ofmykind

If I could describe Kehlani in one word it would be fresh. Her image, style, her music, her attitude, everything about her is just fresh. Her image has completely separated her from any of her considerable competition like Tinashe, Jhene Aiko, Sza, and Zendaya. Her straight rebel and bad-ass image makes her seem like she is not the chick you want to cross but her soulful music and angelic voice will go straight to your heart. Billboard named her mixtape You Should Be Here this year’s first great R&B album, and I totally agree but funny story it wasn’t even an album. The 14 track mixtape is a primarily R&B project but with an edge also with a mix of some blues, pop, and hip hop.

Singer, songwriter, and dancer Kehlani is another gold star the Bay area has on their chart, she was born and raised in Oakland, California. I’ve seen things, and I’ve felt more pain than some will in their entire lives, all before the age of being able to buy a fucking drink at a bar”- states Kehlani during the intro of You Should Be Here.  At 20 years old she has had more trials and tribulations than many of her peers but somehow still manages to keep a big smile on her face as she continues to spread good vibes. Growing up Kehlani didn’t have her biological parents her father died when she was an infant, and her absent mother was a drug addict. Which left Kehlani to be raised by extended family members, including her aunt who put her life on a pause to step in and act as a motherly figure for Kehlani.

One Nick Cannon and America’s Got Talent without them the world may not have been introduced to Kehlani so soon. Her and her band at the time, POPLYFE, made it to the top four finalist on season six of AGT. After compliments from a couple of judges about her talents she eventually took in what they said and decided to pursue in a career as a solo artist. Before there was You Should Be Here, there was her mixtape Cloud 19, before that mixtape was her debut song “ANTISUMMERLOVE” which she put out summer 2013.

Kehlani's first mixtape Cloud 19 came out last year and received many good reviews. Complex magazine referred to Cloud 19 as one of the best albums of 2014.  You Should Be Here was a lot more well received than Cloud 19 but I would say Cloud 19 was just has good as YSBH. Her music stays pretty consistent as far as the sound and content. Jahaan Sweet produced most of Kehlani’s track for Cloud 19 and YSBH. In her music Kehlani talks a lot about relationships (family, friends, and romantic), forgiveness for those that have been responsible for the pain in her life, acceptance, empowerment, and confidence or finding the light inside of yourself. She keeps it real, she opens up in her music and she is raw, making herself not only relatable for listeners but also inspirational.

My top five tracks off of YSBH are The Way ft Chance The Rapper, Bright, Unconditional, N****s, and You Should Be Here (my #1). Even some of today’s biggest artist are on the Kehlani Tsunami Wave. Trey Songz recently hopped on the remix of “The Way”. PARTYNEXTDOOR, Drake, Chance The Rapper ,and Selena Gomez..just to name a few, have expressed that they are fans and cannot wait to see what’s next for her. Even Rick Rubin… RICK RUBIN, has said that Kehlani’s music will “change the world”. Are you impressed yet?

She makes the music that plenty of young people especially girls need to hear. She has everything that appeals to this generation. Her fanbase continues to grow and really took off after the success of “YSBH”. She currently has 105k SoundCloud followers, 732k Instagram followers, and millions of listeners between Youtube and SoundCloud. Kehlani is well on her way to be considered one of the best new artist of 2014/2015, if she continues to make the music she has been and doesn’t change her unique image I can definitely see her being a new face of today’s R&B. For anybody who isn’t familiar with her I suggest you do your ears a favor and familiarize yourself. Hop on the Lani Tsunami wave, I wouldn’t steer you wrong. After the break you can see the videos for The Way featuring Chance the Rapper and You Should Be Here.


Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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