At 20 years old Kehlani certainly embodies her youth. Energetic and always looking up to the sky, she has her eyes set on the stars. Yet unlike many artists her age who get lost along the way, she is as wise as anyone working within the industry.
Even though she grew up without either of her parents by her side, she learnt quickly she needs to take care of herself and her own. However you perceive the term family, it means the world to Kehlani. Whether it’s her dancers who follow her every move or the Bay Area that raised her. But tonight in London, she made sure every single fan in attendance was part of the Kehlani family for the night.
Last night didn’t just mark the debut of her London debut, it also marked yet another huge milestone for the young singer. Earlier in the year she released her second mixtape “You Should be Here.” Although perceived as a mixtape it was an incredibly strong piece of work, and cemented Kehlani as one of the hottest acts working in RnB. And if you needed any more proof that it was more worthy than just a mixtape, yesterday “You Should Be Here” was nominated for a Grammy for the ‘Best Urban Contemporary Album’. A tremendous triumph for the Bay native, and quite rightly so making her first of two sold out London shows a cause for celebration. Opening up with the shining and honest “You Should be Here”, the crowd screamed every lyric with back at her.
The excitement only rose throughout the show, with the crowd not taking a blink in fear they would miss a vital moment, and it was a show that was filled with them. Supported by her two backing dancers, at every moment there was something happening on stage wherever you look. Whether it was the sultry “Down For You” or the bouncy “Wanted”, she patrolled the stage with complete confidence and it was utterly infectious. Throughout the show she took breaks to interact with her devoted fans. It was clear how much they truly mean to her, as she complimented on how beautiful her fanbase is and preached that whatever may be happening in your life you always remain true to yourself. It was clear the confidence she carries within herself was being instilled into members of the crowd. Kehlani learnt how to grow up the hard way, and yet still so young she is preaching to the youth of today. She is a natural born leader, and this performance was a portrayal of her dominance.
Throughout the performance the key was honesty. Kehlani laid it all out there. Whether it was the self boasting “Runnin”, the confessional romantic duet “The Way” or the celebratory “FWU”, Kehlani put every single piece of herself into each performance. The highlight of the night came in the form of the “The Letter”. Kehlani has spoken on the absence of her mother whilst growing up, and it was a painfully honest performance of the hurt this brought her. “And if you weren’t gonna guide me, why bring me into the light? Must have done something to make you want to run and hide, why oh why didn’t you just live your life? And every girl needs a mother, and damn it I needed you.” It’s a story everyone can relate to in some manner, a loved one who was absent when you needed them the most. Kehlani split herself open on stage for everyone to see, knowing her honesty inspires others to find the voice they deserve.