Despite many opposing opinions, music should evolve and adapt to changing times. Keeping that in mind, it’s safe to say that we are currently living in an era of contemporary-alternative R&B. Over the years the sound of rhythm and blues has shifted to something more non-traditional and a lot less like the slow jams we remember (and still love!) from the 90’s. When you think of R&B you think of soothing heartfelt lyrics or feel-good music that gets you through tough emotional times, and though the sonic aspect of the genre has changed the underlying feel of R&B still exists. This melancholy wave has created a new landscape for singers and songstresses who are not afraid to express emo and unique vibes through their art. One artist that embodies the essence of this space and has carved her own lane in the industry is Kehlani.
You may not remember Kehlani from her days on America’s Got Talent, or her time spent in the girl group Poplyfe but her place as an R&B star has been cemented. Originally from Oakland, California, Kehlani fought to find her voice in the industry, sharing with fans that she shied away from her own sound in order to fit in with industry ideas of female artists. But with each mixtape her sound and fan base continued to grow, and by 2016 she had become a Grammy-nominated artist (for her 2015 mixtape You Should Be Here) and found a home as one of the few singers/songwriters on Atlantic Records. Through features with artists like Cardi B and Eminem she was primed to make her own lane alongside artists like Jhene Aiko, H.E.R and Tinashe. Her most recent mixtape While We Wait, a 9 song project became the soundtrack for relationships and the roller-coaster of emotions they consist of, hit streaming platforms with force. That February release was 9 months ago and fans have been patiently waiting for something new. Waiting that is until now.
On Tuesday, November 12th Kehlani came through and blessed fans with something special, releasing the new single “You Know Wussup”. In the heartfelt song, the songstresses addressed a range of emotions she’s been feeling amidst the infidelity in her relationship. On this track, Kehlani does what she does best and lays her heart out for fans to hear. She’s honest, vulnerable and relatable, and it is refreshing to hear her sing words like “I’ll still tell the world I’m in love with you/ Cause I ain’t ashamed”. After its release, Kehlani took to twitter saying “the fire thing about music is you can express the wildest and furthest parts of the emotions you’re experiencing, even just the things the little back of your head voice is screaming… or even the devil on your shoulder. flush it out and it keep it flowin.” Through her art, she shows fans that like everyone else she feels, and in the moment of creation, Kehlani decided to release this single raw and unmixed.
Since its release fans have praised her for her openness and have offered their own stories of heartache for support. Right now the track has only been released on Soundcloud but motions to add it to other streaming platforms are in the works and will ensure the success of the song. But right now the track is everything music, and R&B specifically, should be. It’s vulnerable, emotional and authentic, and for those coping with a love lost it is most importantly comforting. You can check out Kehlani’s single “You Know Wussup” below.