Three mixtapes and an album later, The Bay’s sweetheart Kehlani otherwise known as Baelani to many fans drops her second studio album It Was Good Until It Wasn’t. Due to her continuous progression with each project, we know to expect her bubbly-brokenhearted girl lyrics but this time with a higher sense of maturity. Kehlani specifically is one artist I have witnessed grow in terms of sound and content over the past five years, which may be attributed to her young age of 25 or the life experience she has obtained with celebrity breakups, giving birth and exploring her sexuality.
The anticipation for It Was Good Until It Wasn’t peaked the moment Kehlani posted the album covers on instagram. Each side posted separately, the backside sparked conversation showing a demolished or collapsing city (very fitting for the album title) which had everyone wanting a physical copy simply for the creative concept. On top of that, seeing a Lucky Daye and James Blake feature definitely helps stir the pot.
Kehlani’s personal life has created tumultuous conversation throughout the years ranging from her sexuality, relationship scandals and even mild industry beef. These occurrences have made their way into her lyrical content giving her projects a personalized but relatable feel. The transition from teenage breakup tunes to more womanly heartbreak jams have grown Kehlani’s fan base tremendously. After the very public breakup with rapper YG, I can say we are all excited to see the headspace the singer is in. Personally, the subliminal digs are what I’m most looking forward to.
Through all of the turmoil we’ve seen Kehlani endure, the consistent transparency makes us like her more as a person. She has become this relatable woman with a loveable spirit that we adore and share similar experiences with. The album alludes to this inner spirit of longing for someone, wanting that connection (regardless of the toxic undertones), and simply being understood. From start to finish, each song has a very passionate and/or sensual beat setting the continuous serious tone (it’s less catchy radio bop like). Truly, I love the maturity from Kehlani. This one feels personal.
A few favorites:
Toxic starts the album off strong and the title alone automatically piqued my curiosity. You may remember this song from when it released in mid March. Kehlani describes going through the motions of missing that one person we all know we shouldn’t. Her vocals sound fed up on the chorus which pulls you in and has you agreeing with her that going back and forth with that one problematic love is indeed…toxic. And sprinkled on like parsley, we get Ty Dolla $ign vocals in the background which makes it even better (or toxic).
Can I ft. Tory Lanez is probably the most provocative track on the album. Featuring a chorus which is a play on Aaliyah’s “Can I Come Over” and alluring lyrics about a come through and chill situation. I love when Kehlani gives us this type of sexiness, it’s demanding and unhinged and from the looks of things, the ladies love this one. Singing Tory comes as a complementing feature on this one as he is no stranger to making steamy tracks for his female fan base.
Everybody Business the singer gets personal with us about love, rumors, and how she manages to still push forward. The song plays like a heartfelt ballad where Kehlani really just tells us that she hears all the rumors and it is best people not make assumptions. The song comes on after “Belong to the Streets Skit” as a sort of rebuttal to comments such as “she’s always with a different person.”
Hate the Club is a personal top pick. The song features Masego playing the saxophone as Kehlani’s slow vocals run us through the course of going somewhere (in this case the club) simply to run into that certain person despite hating it there. Relatable for most to say the least, it’s a perfect sensual, anti-club track. The “I miss you” theme Kehlani has been conveying on this album is very prevalent here. Repeating “Damn you know I hate club/ But I came cause I knew you’d show up” sounds a bit off putting, but you can feel that yearning spirit.
F&MU definitely is for those looking for that sexy, bedroom side of Kehlani. Another track hinting at how two people are no good for each other but the sex is still there. Normally Kehlani is rather subtle when it comes to talking about sex which is cute but this album is giving us more maturity which is exciting to see. Also, being track 11 on the album you can’t help but think about who these songs are meant for, if any.
Grieving ft. James Blake gives us a more personalized glimpse into her thoughts on separation. From what we know about the singer’s personal life this past year, this song definitely pulls on your more emotional side. She’s very explicitly still grieving from choosing to leave despite any mistreatment. Kehlani even took to twitter before the album dropped to say this was her favorite track. Seeing the James Blake feature before even hearing the song immediately let me know this one would pull on some heart strings. An easy top pick from the album simply because we have all been here. You want to feel something when you hear certain songs and this offers that.
It Was Good Until It Wasn’t holds truthful as the theme surrounding this album. Kehlani took the time to get personal with us surrounding her love life, balancing regret, pride and accountability. As adults we have all experienced those relationships or situationships that have gone south one way or another. Ladies especially can cling to these tunes and feel less alone during those times, it’s why you fall in love with certain artists. Whether you are considering calling an ex or grieving one, you want to hear those common experiences expressed in music. As the followup from her debut studio album Sweet Sexy Savage (2017), we hear how her sound is evolving and she’s coming into more of her own. Kehlani is a woman who has been through some things and it shows. Give this one a listen for those lust ridden breakup jams on that late night drive.