At only 21 years-old, Kehlani has had a pretty rapid rise but it hasn't been easy. She's released two mixtapes so far Cloud 19 and You Should Be Here with the second unexpectedly picking up a Grammy nomination - almost unprecedented for a mixtape. In her short career, she's worked with Chance The Rapper, ZAYN and Pusha T, while gathering one of the most dedicated fanbases on social media. Her debut album comes after a year of personal struggle but it's her most self-assured project yet. The light at the end of the tunnel.
SweetSexySavage is definitely an evolution for Kehlani from a mixtape artist dropping tracks on soundcloud to a force to be reckoned with in both the R&B and pop scenes. Everything has stepped up, her production, her vocal abilities and her unwavering assertiveness. Borrowing from Beyonce, Frank Ocean and Solange, Kehlani has included intros to the album and tracks that were spoken by her friends, family and women that she looks to for inspiration and advice which set the tone for the whole album, this is Kehlani showing you her world, her thoughts, her aspirations and her thanks. By creating the tracks to fit under 3 different categories: Sweet, Sexy & Savage, Kehlani shows you the complexities, power and vulnerability of a woman like only the best in the business could.
This is a hard one purely because she has split the album into kind of 3 segments: Sweet, Sexy & Savage and I feel like I should pick a best track for each segment but if you had a gun to my head and I had to pick one it would have to be Too Much. It just has so much of the Kehlani attitude, independence and swag that we know and love her for; it’s so infectious and inspiring and it makes me happy that young girls have songs like this to listen to and hopefully help strengthen their sense of self-worth (I know it did that for me). Not to mention I’m a sucker for a 90s throwback vibe; Aaliyah could have recorded this and it would’ve been a fricken smash! If we were also to consider the current political landscape and the record-breaking women’s marches held around the world, this song is just so appropriate, hell it could have been its anthem.
Close runner ups include Distraction, Escape and I Wanna Be.
I hate to say there is a ‘worst track’ because I believe Kehlani can do no wrong but the track that lets me down the most would have to be Everything Is Yours. Even though it’s an epic sort of trap slow jam and there is that killer pulsing bass beat that drops in during the chorus, I just think it doesn’t really go anywhere. It builds up to the drop in the chorus and then just kind of plateaus. I feel like I walk away from listening to it and don’t really remember how it goes. It kinda sounds like a B-Side to one of her mixtapes; I don’t hear an evolution in this track from then to now. This all being said I don’t want to discredit it, I just think in comparison to the rest of the tracks it’s just a little lacking.
A writer for The Guradian said that this album was ‘music to do your tax return to’ and gave it 2 stars. What I have to say to this is yes you’re right if you’re a white conservative male, you should probably avoid listening to this album. Similar to how Beyonce’s Lemonade wasn’t for white females, this album isn’t for you, this album is for all the young girls around the world coming into their own and figuring out how to be strong, woke, independent and loving women.
- Words by Courtney Worrell