Kehlani “SweetSexySavage” Album Review

My review was originally published in Issue 081 of Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine.

     If you were one of the countless gay geeks who rushed to theaters to see Suicide Squad last summer, you’ve already heard Kehlani’s sweet, sexy, savage voice. I vividly recall being transfixed by her beautiful, confident R&B stylings during the Jokey-Harley Quinn montage, when her song “Gangsta” played. 

It wasn't until early last month that I discovered Kehlani's true brilliance. Twin Cities Gay Scene owner DJ David B forwarded me a PR email from Kehlani's team, detailing pre-order information for her album "SweetSexySavage." Between the striking album cover art, her unique name, and just the overall vibe I got, I needed to listen to the buzz tracks. I did, and between catchy, chill songs like “Advice,” “Do U Dirty,” and “Undercover,” I was hooked instantly. 

Needless to say I pre-ordered “SweetSexySavage.” I received a cool 7" vinyl record for my early order, which was a double A-side of album tracks "CRZY" and "Distraction." Her signature vocal stylings sound even better on wax, down to every witty ad lib. 

 Kehlani 7" vinyl spinning on my setup.  Instagram: @DerekPlease

Kehlani 7" vinyl spinning on my setup. Instagram: @DerekPlease

A master of suspense, Kehlani didn't reveal the deluxe album's 19 song track list until the week of its release late last month. Finally the night of release came, and I was ready. As soon as I got the email containing the album download link, I was off to the races. 

Each song was better than the last. The buzz tracks and the ones I had yet to hear blended perfectly; 90s upbeat throwback jam “CRZY” segued perfectly into the laid-back R&B banger “Personal.” Whoever sequenced this track list deserves a raise. Janet Jackson-level work in creating a steady, maintained vibe across such a long track list. 

At 19 tracks, the album could easily come across as overstuffed, but it actually contains little to no filler. The only unwelcome additions are the wedged-in spoken word interludes segments; they’re tacked on to the beginnings of several songs, instead of being their own individual, short album tracks. You want to skip them, but you can’t! I suppose that is just another layer of her intentional 90s R&B genre throwback, but it’s a big genre cliche best left to 00s decade Janet Jackson. 

Not since Rihanna has a new R&B/pop artist seemed so wholly original. No one sounds or looks like Kehlani, except for Kehlani. Very excited to follow the rest of her “SweetSexySavage” album era, and what follows it. Check her out headlining her own "SweetSexySavage" World Tour all throughout 2017:

What's your favorite song of the moment? Tell me: @DerekPlease on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat.