If you haven’t heard of Kehlani, chances are you’ve been sleeping. I’m talking sleeping for weeks – hibernating, if you will. At only twenty years old, this female R&B singer released her debut album You Should Be Here in August of 2014. If you’re already a fan of Kehlani then you’re probably wondering why I’m recapping an album like this a year after it was originally released. The answer is simple and it comes in about five paragraphs, so stay tuned.
The album received over a million plays within the first 24 hours of its release on SoundCloud. In this compilation, Kehlani takes no prisoners and proves her gender and her age to those who would otherwise doubt the talent she possesses. With Native American roots and music in her blood (Oakland rapper Clyde Carson is Kehalni’s cousin), she set forth with an album that speaks truth in poetic verses.
My favorite track on this album comes right after the intro and is the title track. The instrumental for this song is probably my favorite beat I’ve ever heard (that’s a bold statement for me). It samples melancholy undertones and ballad-like cords. Keeping with the calm and effortless music, Kehlani joins with simple lyrics that tell a story and align perfectly with the pick-up’s in the beat. The video for this track was released in April of this year and clearly portrays the vibe you instinctually feel when you first hear it.
Showing an edgier side to the young artist, the third track, “How That Taste,” sounds just like the title makes you think it would. An anthem dedicated to all of those people who are far from supportive until it’s convenient to be, this upbeat track finds a way to elegantly blur the lines between telling half of the people in your life to step off and the other half to buckle up for the ride. We’ve all been in a place where this song is relatable and it’s refreshing to hear this oh-so-familiar story told in a matter-of-fact way.
With features from BJ the Chicago Kid and Chance the Rapper, the songs on this album are multi-faceted. “The Way,” featuring Chance, brings a feel-good vibe to the album and connects two artists with unique styles to make a one in a million track. Chance’s verse is on fire and breaks through Kehlani’s calm, cool and collected verses with amazing conviction.
Now here is the reason I’m talking to you about songs you’ve (hopefully) already heard a lot of buzz about: four days ago, Kehlani released a remix of the previously discussed track, “The Way,” this time featuring Trey Songz. This is a huge step in the right direction for an artist like Kehlani who is so young with so much potential. Just because she’s young, though, doesn’t mean she’s an amateur. Kehlani grasps the idea that some artists can’t comprehend today – collaborating with artists who are already established doesn’t mean you’re gaining from their fame or copying their style, it solely means you have respect for the people that came before you. Thus, their fans will have respect for you. It’s not by coincidence that almost all of the comments on Kehlani’s social media pages are positive and supportive.
Trey’s verse varies drastically from Chance’s original, making a sensual confession versus the original conceited proclamation. While I love both verses, I have to say that Trey’s meshes with the meaning and feeling behind the track on a lot deeper level. The two decide to do the remainder of the song after Trey’s verse, and it definitely adds a cohesiveness I feel the first version lacks.
At the end of the day, Kehlani is a real artist with a lot to say, and that deserves to be respected. Rumors are that the Oakland native will be putting out another album within the next few weeks, so now would be a good time to brush up on your Kehlani and re-listen to her debut album.