Kehlani – While We Wait
Released: 21 February 2019
Footsteps (feat Musiq Soulchild): 3.75/5
Too Deep: 3.75/5
Nunya (feat Dom Kennedy): 4/5
Morning Glory: 4.5/5
Nights Like This (feat Ty Dolla $ign): 3.5/5
RPG (feat 6lack): 3.25/5
Love Language: 4.5/5
★★★★: Excellent; recommended to all fans of the artist or genre
At 9 songs, While We Wait is succinct & to the point, making it a very effective and replayable listen. I’m very happy with Kelani’s musical output the past 2-3 years; between this and 2017’s SweetSexySavage (which I ranked Kehlani’s favorably at #9 on my Best of 2017 non-Hip-Hop list), Kehlani’s music been a very pleasant listening experience. She walks the line of modern & contemporary, yet dreamy 90s nostalgic R&B gracefully.
“Footsteps“ has Timbaland/Aalyiah inspired drums, with an ode to Omarion’s classic single “Ice Box“. Kehlani interpolates the “Icebox” hook in verse 1: “I’m really tryna work this out but I’m tired of fighting/ And I really hope you want me the way I want you“. On “Footsteps“, legendary R&B soulster Musiq Soulchild provides a harmonic balance to Kehlani.
In signature Kehlani fashion, she sets her trifling ex-man straight on “Nunya“, featuring fellow West Coaster Dom Kennedy. Dom contrasts Kehlani’s relationship reprimandation, expressing the common male disbelief of a woman finding another man after putting up with his cheating.
Dom pleads: “Seen you out here holdin’ hands/ I shoulda knew that was comin/“. This type of relationship roleplay is where Kehlani shines.
My favorite song on the LP is “Morning Glory“, where Kehlani takes us on a nostalgic ride back to 90s R&B with her layered chorus vocals and the oft-sampled Honey Drippers “Impeach the President” drums (also heard on Nas – “I Can“). Kehlani even spits a quick 8-bar at the end “Morning Glory“, tone and cadence reminiscent of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes from TLC.
Track #5 “Feels” is driven by deep bass and what sounds like drums in the cadence of Soulja Boy’s “NuReligion” 2012 Youtube hit.
Super-songwriter and producer Ty Dolla $ign (Ty$) joins Kehlani on “Nights Like This” in a duet. His pen feels heavy on here; it sounds like Ty$ may have had a hand in Kehlani’s verse. In the song’s pre-chrous, Kehlani wails, “I can’t believe the lies that I went for/ Thought you was mine, but you decided to be with him though/“. Her love songs are typically aimed at men (at least from the music I’ve heard from her), but these lyrics lead me to believe that Ty$ had a hand in some her lyrics in this song. It’s a good song, but feels unfinished, and ends a bit abruptly. I would’ve loved an additional verse or even a bridge to help close the song out.
★★★★Despite being only 31 minutes, Kehlani displays an impressive amount of versatility on While We Wait. She balances out a rap verse from Dom Kennedy on “Nunya“, walks the line between singing/rapping/talking on “RPG” featuring Atlanta singer 6lack, and even skates over acoustic vibes on “Butterfly“. Keep it coming Kehlani!
Fav songs: “Morning Glory” “Love Language“, “Nunya ft Dom Kennedy“, & “Butterfly”
★★★★★: Best in show; pinnacle release from an all-time great artist.
★★★★1/2: Stellar example of genre; peak potential.
★★★★: Excellent; recommended to all fans of artist or genre.
★★★1/2: Very good; a few bland songs or minor flaws throughout.
★★★: Good; fans of the artist will find value here.
★★1/2: Average; does little to establish the artist or maintain quality.
★★: Unexceptional; a few highlights but otherwise bland.
★1/2: Weak; unrecommended for anyone but major fans of the style and/or artist.
★: Seriously flawed; very poor work but relatively listenable.
1/2: Terrible; a true embarrassment and akin to audio masochism.