Kehlani opens “shooter interlude,” the third observe from their newest album blue water street, by loudly clearing their throat. “And I’m holding all this half, too,” they rapidly add. On the floor, it’s an innocuous second, a bump within the recording course of. However the rawness of it—selecting to go away in a blemish, an outtake—units the stage for sincere reflection. Over a mattress of swelling guitars, flutes, vocal harmonies, they parrot questions they’ve acquired from others over time, voicing requests for cash and unasked proposals of marriage. Their interlocutors examine their ego (“Don’t neglect the favors that I did for you”) whereas pleading for connection (“Can I come over later and might I overstay my welcome?”). This meta second is exceptionally susceptible: Kehlani grappling with different individuals’s perceptions of them in public. It’s a beating coronary heart on the ground, even by the requirements of an artist who’s no stranger to a messy breakup tune.
Kehlani has all the time portrayed love as a kaleidoscope of feeling—the lust, the trauma, stabs at dedication that evaporate like JUUL vapors. In 2020, It Was Good Till It Wasn’t explored unhealthy relationships and one-night stands with the effectivity of spring cleansing, assessing the injury on all sides. blue water street has its share of debauchery—the deep notes once they sing “Name me daddy in entrance of all of your bitches within the foyer” on “any given sunday” are seduction incarnate—however the general vibes are steamy and dedicated, extra keen than ever to guess all of it on love. Kehlani has by no means sounded extra snug in their very own pores and skin, promoting the transition from SweetSexySavage to grown, horny, and tender.
Versus the moodier ambiance favored by artists like Summer season Walker or 6LACK, blue water street has a bubbly tinge. The manufacturing, largely dealt with by government producer Pop Wansel, is cut up between aqueous rap’n’b beats and guitar-centered pop preparations. Even the tracks with a darker musical edge—just like the strip-club love story “any given sunday”—are backed by synths and mushy ad-libs that pop with champagne fizz. Kehlani’s vocal runs and rapping talent contribute to the lifted temper, increasing and contracting to the scope of every narrative. Their voice flits between the shuffling drums of the Slick Rick pattern powering the angsty backseat lust of “want i by no means” with the identical conviction that drives the platonic remembrance of lead single “altar.” On “get me began,” Kehlani’s voice winds up and down a spiral of hi-hats and synths with hushed grace. Later, through the dishonest anthem “greater than i ought to,” their voice is good, forceful, transferring in lockstep with the bassline.