I’ll be honest, before ‘You Should Be Here‘ dropped in April ‘15, I hadn’t heard of Kehlani. My mistake. Coming out of Oakland, CA, the singer/songwriter beautifully blends R&B and contemporary Hip Hop together. With the perfect choice of production, Kehlani provides a style of music that is definitely 90s R&B inspired but nevertheless unique unto herself. She is refreshing, honest and unrestrained. Having lost her father at a young age and being passed to her aunt by a mother suffering from drug addiction, a young Kehlani found peace in the arts. She says,
‘When I was living with my aunt, she played me all of these powerful women and love songs. It was that Neo Soul-R&B, and I couldn’t get enough of it. It felt right to sing from the moment I began.’
Around the age of 13, Kehlani stood as the front member of D’wayne Wiggin’s group PopLyfe as a finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2011. Although unsuccessful in wining the competition, Kehlani had gained the interest of the show’s host Nick Cannon.
Although she experienced a few derailing obstacles that halted her musical progression for a period, Kehlani eventually returned to the studio with the help of Cannon, dropping Cloud 19 in 2014. Her mixtape was well received as Complex magazine showcased her in an article titled ‘How R&B Saved 2014’; Vice declared her an “R&B Artist on the Verge of Blowing Up,” and Pitchfork considered her underrated, dubbing Cloud 19 as one of the overlooked mixtapes of 2014.
Signing with Atlantic records in early 2015, Kehlani released her project You Should Be Here in April that received over a million plays within the first day. Billboard magazine quickly praised the work as ‘The Year’s First Great R&B Album’.
‘Aside from being the top R&B debut of the week, it also came in at #1 on the iTunes R&B/Soul chart and #2 on both the Overall R&B Albums and Current R&B Albums chart.’
To be able to listen to a musical project from start to finish is always something I consider to reflect the genius, honesty and creativity of an artist, and all of these qualities are present in Kehlani’s projects. Her ability to melodically tell her personal stories is what will hold her steadfast in her journey through the music industry.
‘Kehlani definitely knows which elements are missing these days. With the help of her already unwavering fan base — dubbed the Tsunami Mob — she’s set to make some changes in the genre before it’s all said and done.’
The latest news from Kehlani is that she is embarking on a tour this month where she will be performing at every city between Philly and Portland over the summer. Her major label debut album is also in the works and is set to be released via her label Tsunami Mob.
You Should Be Here Tour Dates:
July 7: Chicago, Ill. | Lincoln Hall
July 8: Detroit, Mich. | Shelter
July 10: Toronto, ON | Mod Club
July 12: New York, N.Y. | Highline Ballroom
July 14: Washington, DC | U Street Music Hall
July 15: Philadelphia, Pa. | Union Transfer
July 17: Atlanta, Ga. | Vinyl
July 19: San Antonio, Texas | Alamo City Music Hall (ACMH)
July 20: Dallas, Texas | Trees
July 21: Houston, Texas | Studio @ Warehouse Live
July 25: Santa Cruz, Calif. | The Catalyst
July 27: San Francisco, Calif. | Slim’s
July 29: Sacramento, Calif. | Harlow’s
July 31: Portland, Ore. | Hawthorne Theatre
Aug. 1: Seattle, Wash. | The Crocodile
Aug. 2: Vancouver, BC | The Alexander
Aug. 5: Orange County, Calif. | Constellation Room
Aug. 6: Phoenix, Ariz. | Monarch Theatre
Aug. 13: Los Angeles, Calif. | The Roxy
Aug. 20: Honolulu, Hawaii | Republik
Words: Kitan Ogunfeibo