Kehlani - While We Wait Album Review

Story posted February 28, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Jade Campos

Kehlani has been one of the most promising female musicians in the R&B genre within the past few months. After the release of her first studio album “SweetSexySavage” in 2017, Kehlani’s fan base grew and continues to rise and she collaborates with other up and coming artists such as Hayley Kiyoko for the song “What I Need,” released in the early summer of 2018.

During the midst of her first pregnancy, Kehlani has taken back to her own music with her third mixtape, “While We Wait.” It is a strong R&B album with a sound very similar to late 1990s R&B singers like the group TLC. Kehlani proves herself as force to be reckoned with in “While We Wait,” as she takes the genre into a place that’s all of her own.

Listeners would be surprised to know that the album doesn’t focus on the singer’s pregnancy, which she excitedly announced in October, saying she had always wanted to be a mother. Instead, the album follows lost relationships and addressing her own worth to the lovers in her life. She tackles the emotions that follow after a relationship falls apart and confronts the feelings for an unexpected person.

The album’s opener, “Footsteps,” begins with the sound of running water that continues throughout the song. It’s an easy way to entice listeners before introducing her silky vocals that harmonize well with featured artist Musiq Soulchild. The lyrics are equally as strong as the vocals on the track. She admits that “it’s habitual to be the b**ch I am, but not the chick you want,” which properly sets up her personal journey.

“Too Deep” offers a sufficient bridge to the remainder of the album. While it fails to stand out against its surrounding tracks, it offers a look into her fear of losing someone over miscommunication.

The remainder of the album becomes much stronger, and it doesn’t waver. She takes the lessons and fears she has learned and begins applying them to new relationships. In “Morning Glory” and “RPG,” she expresses her need for acceptance and love from a new lover in order for the relationship to work. In addition, she continues to emphasize communication even after a relationship falls apart.

“Love Language” closes the album with a proper resolute to the lessons she has learned. She yearns for understanding while still holding on to her sense of self.

“While We Wait” takes listeners through a journey of lost relationships and lessons learned. It is one of the aspects that make the album so strong, because it offers listeners a cohesive understanding of the album’s overall meaning. She had said that she would be dedicating the mixtape to her unborn daughter, which could imply that these are all that she has learned while she waits for her birth.

The album is full of featured artists such as Ty Dolla $ign and 6LACK, which helps to make the album even stronger. One of the most enjoyable parts of listening to “While We Wait” is hearing the honey-like sound of Kehlani’s vocals, which she perfectly matched with featured artists. When brought together, the vocals make for an easy and soothing listening experience.

The downfall to this album mostly lies in the fact that it is difficult for some tracks to stand out on their own. During the first couple of listens, it is hard to tell when one song ends and a new song begins. While the music offers a nuance of 1990s rhythm and a 2019 beat, they don’t change very much with each song aside from a few key recognizable features. If you don’t listen carefully, the album almost fits like one big song.

While it makes the first listen difficult, the music also helps to bring the album together as it allows it to become sonically cohesive. Therefore, it could be a pro or a con for Kehlani. The only standout on the album is “Butterfly” which, while having strong lyrical quality, takes the listener outside of the mood the entire album has set and makes for awkward transitions.

Another downfall is the fact that most of the choruses are extremely repetitive. While catchy, they fail to live up to the lyrical expectations of the verses. Each of the verses are witty and masterful which demonstrate her incredible capabilities as a songwriter. The choruses, however, fall flat.

“While We Wait” is one of Kehlani’s strongest works and makes her a clear forerunner in the R&B genre in years to come. Although she has spots for improvement, the past 10 years she has spent as a performer have been successful in bringing her to this point.


Rating: 7/10
Reviewer’s Favorite Tracks: “Nunya” and “Nights Like This”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Track: “Butterfly”

 

 

Jade Campos is a freshman majoring in print journalism. To contact her, email jmc7727@psu.edu.