Published on February 26th, 2019 | by Guest Editor0
Kehlani Keeps The Steam With ‘While We Wait’
If I had her number, I would personally text her “thank you”. It’s been over two years since we’ve gotten a full length project from Kehlani, causing fans to question if she was having label troubles, or if she was done with making music. The news broke that she was pregnant, and as amazing as that is, I, like many fans also saw the news as more reason to prolong her dropping another album or tape. Pleased to hear, she blessed our ears with the announcement that she would be dropping a mixtape called While We Wait, in anticipation for her next album. In a musical state where R&B is pressed clean, and melodic rhythm covers the airways, the thought was that music could sure use some new Kehlani. The bar she set from the start, was way too high to disappoint.
Back in 2014, Kehlani released her first commercial mixtape Cloud 19. If you miraculously haven’t heard it, just know that it was 8 songs of musical heat and stream it now. Her introduction to the game was solid. As an artist, songs like “FWU” and “How We Do Us” proved the fact that she had a lot of rich components that complimented her game. Her versatility created a timeless tape that was lyrically unfiltered and vulnerable, and seemed to vocally unlock a flow that had listeners feeling like they were missing out on some talent in the Bay Area. Following one of the best projects released in 2014, she went on to drop You Should Be Here in 2015, and her debut album SweetSexySavage in 2017, featuring the Grammy nominated single “Distraction”. Her sound began to evolve, but certain tracks within those projects did sound like they were “supposed” to be the radio hits. However, she didn’t miss nonetheless.
Just the idea of her dropping another mixtape that was close to sounding like Cloud 19 made fans eager. Her third official mixtape While We Wait, released in late February of 2019, ended the month on a pedestal. While We Wait was encompassed with the same magical elements that made us fall in love with Kehlani as an artist in the first place. Featuring her two previously released singles “Butterfly” and “Nights Like This” featuring Ty Dolla Sign, While We Wait is condensed with notes of diary entries and reflective thoughts. When Kehlani makes music, it sounds as if she’s talking to herself in the mirror rather than singing to fans. Her first track, “Footsteps” breaks the gates open with her admitting her flaws and finding her peace. Sampling vocals from Omarion’s “Ice Box”, she sprinkled some soul on the top of this one with the feature from Musiq Soulchild. On an R&B tip, it was undoubtedly clear that the fame/label requirements hadn’t gotten to her too much, because it was still real.
In addition to Musiq Soulchild, listeners were blessed with two more surprise appearances with 6lack in “RPG”, and Dom Kennedy in “Nunya”. In both of these songs, Kehlani creates a matrix of sounds that force you out of reality. Throughout her entire career, she’s been good at opening up the mind like drugs, and respectively, she gets her featured artists to do the same. 6lack already proved that he was one of the best artists to listen to while in your bag, but damn he sure doesn’t run out of verses. As a listener, the appreciation for honesty cannot be stressed enough. Lyrically Kehlani comes with an energy that is strong and blunt, leaving hardly any room for interpretation because it’s right there in front of you. Her leveled tales of emotionally unavailable but infatuated ring out in tracks like “Too Deep” and “Feels”. We love when an artists doesn’t make us guess their life, because oftentimes we live the exact same stories. Kehlani talks her shit like a R&B City Girl.
She spread her production off on this album like butter on a biscuit, and it melted together with those lyrics perfectly. The production on While We Wait enhances a lot of it’s replay value, because you don’t need a mood to match: it’ll take you all around the world of vibes and feelings, even back to the 1990’s in tracks like “Morning Glory”. Paying homage to the best female selling group of all time, TLC, “Morning Glory” initially was supposed to sample “Waterfalls”, however the record wasn’t cleared in time. We didn’t even need the sample, because Kehlani’s second verse will make you double check to see if Left Eye is actually on the song. Tracks like “Love Language” implement a joyful production style that equally brash. With beats filled with so much complexity, Kehlani killing these songs proves how good she actually is.
This wouldn’t be a proper review without giving some criticism to the project as well. But honestly, there’s not much I can say. From Kehlani, this is what we needed to hear. It seems to happen less often that artists keep the exact same steam they came in the game with, but she surely has. While We Wait is fulfilled with so many sounds that it feels as if you’re listening to a full length 20-song album. Don’t me wrong, The Bay specifically has been heating up as of lately, but as far as the sounds good, The Bay Area still belongs to Kehlani for right now. If you don’t believe, peep for yourself here.
- K. High