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The Musical Life of Kehlani and Her Latest Album It Was Good Until It Wasn’t

By Meagan Bess

Much credit can be given to the beginnings of Kehlani Ashley Parrish’s (aka Kehlani) career, starting with when she appeared on season 6 of America’s Got Talent. Her group Poplyfe finished in fourth place. Kehlani not only stood out by being the only female in the group; she also stood out due to her vocals. The singer, songwriter, and dancer eventually parted ways with the group to take on a solo career. In 2014, she released her first mixtape Cloud 19, followed by her second mixtape titled You Should Be Here.

Early on, Kehlani made a career for herself that she still appreciates today. In 2016 she received a nomination for a Grammy award for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Following that, she was featured on the soundtrack for the film Suicide Squad in the song titled “Gangsta.”

The year 2017 brought about Kehlani’s debut studio album. SweetSexySavage was very well done with songs like “CRZY,” which has been played over 97 million times on Spotify, showing her ability to perform songs for her fans and newcomers. In 2019, her album While We Wait had an incredible amount of success debuting at number nine on the US Billboard 200. She is also credited for her features on Zedd’s “Good Thing” and Justin Bieber’s “Get Me.”  

Fast forward to 2020, and fans now have a new album from Kehlani to rave over, titled It Was Good Until It Wasn’t. At first glance, the title appears to reference a relationship that did not end on a good note, but it’s best to listen to some of the songs before jumping to any conclusions. Here’s a few of my favorite tracks and my own personal interpretations of them.

Toxic

In this first song off the album, it appears that Kehlani is perfectly fine with being alone, whether that means she is out of a relationship or just taking time to herself. Early on, it is established that she feels her partner’s love is “toxic.” Although there is drama in the relationship, she keeps feeling drawn to him like a drug.

Bad News

This song can relate to anyone in a relationship where the person expressing their love wants the best for their partner, and that seems to be amplified from the song’s beginning words. Later in the song Kehlani sings, “Don’t wanna get no call with no bad news,” implying that this fear of “bad news” might have stemmed from something in the past. It makes the song personal yet public to those who are willing to listen.

Change Your Life featuring Jhené Aiko

This song begins with a unique serenade, a different way of getting her man interested in what she is saying. Having Kehlani and Jhené take each other’s sides, meaning the same thing in different ways shows their drive to have their partner to not just be interested in them but do something about it.

Hate the Club featuring Masego

The title of this track is self-explanatory. Listeners get into the mind of Kehlani through a slow groove of lyrics. It seems she would rather be anywhere else but at the club and is only there because the man she’s interested in is also there, and her having a few drinks would help her work up the nerve to talk to him.

Can You Blame Me featuring Lucky Daye

This song has two sides, with Kehlani telling her man that he is her “safe haven” while at the same time, she appears to be warning him about the dangerous effect that an argument or disagreement between them has had on her. She goes on to express her feelings of how he drives her crazy, but she’d rather be with him than without him. Lucky Daye expresses the man’s point of view, which is that they’ve been through too much together and although things have been rough, he has no intention of leaving the relationship; he’s in it for the long haul. It seems like a “he said” “she said” type of situation, and only listeners can decide whose side they are on.

I hope the mini breakdown of some of the songs on the album intrigue you enough to listen. To stay up to date on news from Kehlani and to see images of her and her beautiful daughter head on over to Instagram @kehlani.

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