Written by Chandler Barksdale; PC: Kehlani
Kehlani's Newest Album
From gaining popularity as an America’s Got Talent girl-group finalist, to becoming one of the biggest names in hip-hop today, Kehlani Parrish, popularly known by her stage name Kehani, is already making history at twenty-one. Kehlani has managed to successfully release several mixtapes within a quite male-dominated field. Her 2nd mixtape, You Should Be Here, was one of the first mixtapes to ever be nominated at the Grammys, let alone the very first female mixtape to ever be nominated. SexySweetSavage is her first album, a departure from her mixtapes. SexySweetSavage, will be another milestone in her own history book. The album explores some heavier hip-hop beats with pop-hooks, making it completely irresistible.
Like any album, SexySweetSavage was inspired by many different artists. For example, the album title is a play off of TLC’s Crazysexycool. The album begins with a slam poem that discusses the multi-dimensions of a person, and the love one aspires to find. The second track, “Keep On” feels very inspired by other 90’s R&B such as Lauryn Hill and Aaliyah. “Keep On” quickly transitions to the album’s first single, “Distraction”.
“Distraction” was one of my personal favorite singles of 2016, and will continue to be a favorite of 2017. With the addictive melodies and one of the most gripping hooks I’ve ever heard, Distraction is an obvious standout. Distraction discusses the very realistic situation of having a relationship as a distraction. Relationships are a strong theme with Kehlani from sassy breakup songs to the heartwarming, "Hold Me By The Heart". I am not a fan of ballads, but with Kehlani’s rough and sensual vocals, I feel like I am actually hearing "Hold Me By the Heart" live. The song is only backed up by an acoustic guitar (a sharp contrast to the rest of the album) and Kehlani’s vocals gives a personal, raw feel. "Hold Me By the Heart" feels nostalgic at some points, but "Escape" is when the nostalgia kicks in. "Escape" feels like an early 2000’s hit that would play during breakup scenes on every reality show ever. R&B/Hip-Hop has a stereotypical view of being one dimensional, and Kehlani quickly disproves that racist view with "Escape". "Escape" brings up another point of love. She importantly talks about hoping her significant other doesn’t lose themselves and creates an impressive metaphor for her love to be an escape. Even though the, 'sassy breakup song', can be a stereotypical archetype of the R&B/Hip-Hop genre, Kehlani has completely reinvented it. "I Wanna Be" and "CRZY" are loud, fun songs that deserve to be played on the highest volume possible.
With The Weeknd dominating the pop and R&B landscape, Kehlani gives Abel Tesfaye a run for his money. The synth heavy, "Everything is Yours", tells a story of unconditional love in the middle of a fame. The silky vocals backing the harsh background feels like a new classic. Tesfaye often sings about relationships and partying with a similar silk/synth combo. However, Tesfaye’s style can be quite repetitive and with a couple ballads in the mix, Kehlani’s album feels refreshing. The Weeknd was one of the first major R&B crossovers into mainstream pop radio, and Kehlani could easily do the same.
"Not Used To It", is a personal favorite off of the album. Kehlani layers her own vocals to produce an enslaving single. She describes the contrast of her older life to her new life with fame, with burning passion in her voice. Kehlani wraps up SexySweetSavage in a perfect way, "I Wanna Be". Be continues Kehlani’s narrative of difficult feelings about love and what Kehlani’s music truly sounds like.
Kehlani has created a new sound for Hip-Hop/R&B with layered vocals, traditional instruments mixed with pop basics as synth/beat drops, and strong lyrics. SexySweetSavage has the another notch on it’s belt as sonically cohesive, that, on top of her unique sound makes SexySweetSavage one to stay. With strong pop hit contenders, new classics, and some great bangers in general, SexySweetSavage is an incredible debut album; also proves that Kehlani will continue making history for a long time.