Review: You Should Be Here - Kehlani
Nicolas Tyrell- Scott reviews up and coming artist Khelani's new album.
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“Jealous” strips things back in terms of Kehlani’s vocal abilities and focuses on the popular app Instagram. Kehlani uses her lower register to depict the struggle of guys in the past focusing on having multiple women in the picture (no pun intended) and how they attract such attention on Instagram to keep up this charade. The Oakland vocalist embeds her rise to fame in this topic as she reveals to her fans the opportunists of her love interests of the past. “I’m quick to cut it off if you don’t believe I’ll do it. You stay taking pictures, pictures”, Kehlani warns as the song nears it’s close.
A distraction from all the lessons embedded in this EP comes in the form of “The Way”.
Beautifully executed, Kehlani and special guest Chance The Rapper reveal, quite explicitly their addiction for their lovers. “All I do is stay up all night losing sleep over you”, Kehlani envisions a past time most people are very familiar with as she yearns for time with her special one. The singer leaps and dives into the funk/mellow inspired beat creating an almost fairy tale with a cool and fresh edge. Chance The Rapper buffers the track with his flirtatious and racy verse adding a dynamic element to the track as he soars through a variety of different paces throughout leaving the listener even wanting a relationship.
“Runnin” changes the tone once more and challenges the stereotypical male dominated R&B realm.
”Every man has a fear of a strong minded woman, but I say she’s a keeper if she got it on her own”. Kehlani dares men in power to let the ladies take the lead and be the bread winners. This is very refreshing as Kehlani is raw on this track and very honest in her words as she is almost carefree and passionate at the same time while she uncovers her thoughts on this common hierarchy struggle in relationships. Hitting the nail on the head the singer depicts that it doesn’t matter if females hold their own, they should be valued for that – a very important notion which almost certainly will resonate in each and every female as they listen to this.
Kehlani reverts to vulnerability as the EP progresses and almost yearns to be moved from being almost in a relationship, but not quite.
Kehlani and BJ The Chicago Kidd collaborate for the powerful mid-tempo, “Love ain’t never been so close but so far away”.
The pair contemplate the infamous head vs heart debate and conclude that “Maybe it won’t be too late” when each are ready to settle down. Again another element which feels oh so familiar – right person, wrong timing.
Ultimately, Kehlani is not defeated at all. Quite the contrary on the EP closer “Alive”.
”It’s like something has to die, to help you realise, damn! I feel alive.” Kehlani is definitely assured that she’s okay despite the bruises and scrapes of the past. This slightly pop influenced production is uplifting and motivational and sums up exactly what Kehlani has been doing throughout – teaching. Finally able to reflect on not only the experiences but the EP here she tells us that in the end you are the most important thing, beyond all of the trials and tribulations.
Kehlani adds a revitalising facet to the new era of R&B. She is louder than Jhene Aiko but less grittier than say a K Michelle. Oaklands newest finds her feet in a middle ground between two extremes and within this territory adds a unique and dynamic edge to such ground.
With a more contemporary production aiding her which hints at the Miguel’s and Frank Ocean’s, but still different, Kehlani makes her voice very clearly heard as “You Should Be Here” marks a noticable improvement from her still incredible debut EP. One can only imagine what her debut album is going to bring if this momentum intensifies.