Emerging Oakland singer-songwriter Kehlani is one of the youngest artists in the music industry right now, with a future brighter than most people her age. Her smooth voice, organic lyrics, and honest content, all provide for a star in the making. The R&B powerhouse made it to the finals of America’s Got Talent and has released songs such as “Antisummer Love”, “Raw & True”, and one of our favorites “FWU”. However, her journey in music is just beginning as she prepares for her new EP to drop. Our team met up with Kehlani in the beautiful downtown Los Angeles Arts District for a photoshoot and exclusive interview below.
How do you feel the Bay has shaped your sound and development as an artist?
Thats super dope! Songs are written from experiences, & a big experience in life is growing up in your hood. Oakland raised me! It taught me how to love, how to express myself. Development wise, I’m very fortunate to have musically grown up in the bay. The artistic community is very welcoming and very supportive.
I feel that the Bay area is one of the most slept on and copied areas when it comes to urban music. What are your thoughts on the Bay Area’s influence?
Oh mos definitely. Shits crazy. I felt like we all watched the sound spread from the bay to Los Angeles and then eventually all of America caught on and suddenly everyones hyphy as hell. LOL. There are so many different types of music coming from the bay area but they all have the same feel. The same amount of passion. It ALWAYS comes from the soul.
HBK are currently making waves on a national scale. Do you think they will have a huge musical impact like the leaders of the Hyphy Movement?
They already have that impact! They are GLOBAL. I am blessed to be able to come up alongside them and watch the journey first hand. They are changing the world. What I love most about their movement is that its always been positive. They aren’t being ignorant or violent, and yet are still a strong force in mainstream hip hop.
What advice can you give to girls your age trying to make it in the music industry?
Never give up. and never let anyone make you feel insecure about your vision. If you know what you want to accomplish, work towards that in full confidence.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
K: My EP drops on my birthday, April 24. Be on the lookout for a new single very soon. Many details to come!
If you could create a super girl group of female artists who would you include?
My lovely best friends/sisters and I.. Jean Deaux & Via Rosa. Both talented amazing artists out of chicago. s/o 2 MBS.
If you could do a collab album with any artist/producer dead or alive who would it be and why?
Right now I’d have to say either Prince or Frank Ocean. Prince is classic and legendary, and Frank is not only one of my favorites but his music was very influential to my life.
How do you feel about being so young in the industry? You’ve been making a lot of major moves for your age that are rare.
I feel like being young is the greatest ever. So many people encourage you, but so many people doubt. Personally, I have always loved when people doubt me because it pushes me to go ten times harder to prove myself. I’ve been doing this since I was 14 so the young factor has always been there, now its just dope because I’m finally 18, so I’m now an adult but I’m still young. I encourage every young person to get out and get on their crafts now, my generation is the future, the takeover is incredibly real.
What/who are some of your biggest non-musical inspirations?
Lauryn Hill.. she taught me how to be a fearless woman. To be unafraid to say things that aren’t usually said. She taught me that it’s okay to bare your soul. Also, Gandhi, Frida, Banksy, Martin Luther King just to name a few… just people that stood for everything they believed in. People who weren’t afraid to make a change. People who weren’t afraid to be great.
How has family and gaining your independence early on in life played a huge role in your grind?
It taught me that at the end of the day your current situation is never permanent unless you allow it to be. I could’ve wasted so much time being mad at myself and my family for not being the ideal family, but instead I used all of it as motivation. Gaining my independence early was a blessing in disguise, it allowed me to grow up in the ways I needed myself to, in ways no one else could help me with. That was def. God trying to show me the real.
Interview by @hideexdee | Photos by Leah Takele
Follow Kehlani @kehlani | Soundcloud.com/kehlanimusic