Kehlani's debut album, SweetSexySavage, has been a long time coming - two years for eager fans to be exact. After releasing a Grammy-nominated mixtape You Should Be Here that captured the ears of hip-hop and R&B lovers desperately in need of something new, fans had no choice but to wait as the now 21-year-old singer hit the studio to pen a deeply personal and empowering major-label debut album.
SweetSexySavage is an intimate look on her many private struggles coming into adulthood and being in the spotlight. On the collection, the Oakland, Calif. native displays her fun, sassy, girl power persona by chronicling her tumultuous experiences in past relationships (i.e. Kyrie Irving and PARTYNEXTDOOR), overcoming her suicide attempt and her first taste of social media backlash. While telling her story, Lani demonstrates her vocal prowess through a variety of ballads and upbeat tracks that ultimately represents a new wave of girl power in R&B.
If you didn't know who Kehlani was before, you'll "f--- with [her] heavy" now. Listen to SweetSexySavage's top five songs below.
Confident, strong and not afraid to let world know she has a reason to be feeling herself (shout out to Beyonce), Kehlani uses "Too Much" to explain that she's "more than just a girl walking down the street." While much of the song emphasizes the singer's "girl power" persona, it also presents itself as an ode to an ex lover.
She's sings, "I'm too much of a woman/Too much of a woman / Too much of a bad ass bitch/Too much of a boss / Baby it's your loss/Now you gotta live with it."
Passionate about sharing her story through song, those lyrics ring through as a subliminal message to a ghost from her past.
Shots. Shots. Shots. Kehlani sounds off on "Personal."
A direct message to someone in her past - friend, lover or other - the California native lets her lyrical and vocal talents shine as she cynically apologizes to anyone offended by her drive and subsequent success.
"They sleeping, they sleeping, they sleeping, they sleeping on me / But I don’t waste my time tryna prove that I’m something to see, oh I / The real ones they know and the ones that do not I don’t need / 'Cause mostly the vision and I give reasons to believe / That I’m honest, I’m honest, I’m telling no lies / When I say I’m up next I’m not just for the ride / Never a point when I questioned my mind / Know what I’m doing, I pay for this time / Come up regardless, I’m comin regardless / I’m hungry, I’m starving, remaining a topic."
At the end of the day, Kehlani wants it to be known that she can thrive on her own and overcome any obstacle that's thrown her way. And if anyone questions her abilities, she's got an answer for that: "I’m not who I once was / These days I’m all grown up / I f--- with me heavy / I’m all chose up."
Focused on moving on from a past relationship, Kehlani sings about breaking away from bad habits. She appreciates experience, but she knows it's something she will never engage in again. She just wants to "break off a piece of mind for peace of mind."
Just in time for BET's New Edition Story, "In My Feelings" chronicles a list of unwanted feelings about someone who doesn't deserve them - and it features a 1988 New Edition humming "if it isn't love" while Lani questions "why do I feel this way?" Ready to be "off" of the person that has her heart, Kehlani says it's time for a "new plug" but can't find one because she's still "stuck" on the old one, who doesn't know her worth.
Upbeat and to the point, Lani wants a little "Distraction" from the obstacles and relationships that are tearing her apart. Not looking for any sort of commitment, the singer confronts an acquaintance asking for a no-strings-attached "situationship" that fulfills her wants without the unnecessary drama. "In the context that I’m saying, it’s something fun and not serious, but not to where you don’t care about it," says Kehlani about the song. "You’re like, 'this is tight, you’re tight, you’re super cool.' It’s like the homie but someone who respects what you got going on but still wants to make you feel good and stuff."
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