Atlantic – January 27th
“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” goes the much quoted Nietzsche paraphrase, equating to something like ‘pain is formative’. It is a view that Kehlani voices in the intro to her much lauded 2015 mixtape You Should Be Here and one that she amps up, along with her sound, on her debut album SweetSexySavage.
The record sees the Grammy nominated 21-year-old standing defiant against much of the online controversy she faced across 2016, after a turbulent break-up and a very publicised suicide attempt. “You can tell the world I’m a narcissist and they would probably listen to you” she declares on the D’Angelo style opener ‘With You’. It’s gracefully followed by ‘Distraction’, one of many tracks across the album that takes the Neo-soul format and supercharges it with a range of different styles from early 2000s RnB to trap.
Though Kehlani’s debut is clearly a piece of work that intends to express an inner sentiment (note the various confessional skits ranging from poet Reyna ‘Biddy’ Mays to UK pal Little Simz), it would be an injustice to mark the entire album as merely a ‘road to recovery’ style epic. Singles such as ‘CRZY’ and ‘Do You Dirty’ show a playfully fierce side to Kehlani that bring to mind another paraphrase of Nietzsche’s: “Whatever is falling, give it a push, no need to be gentle”.
Live: KOKO – March 5th + 6th