Kehlani: She Was Good Until She Became Great

KehlaniPhoto Credit: Arturo Torres

Oakland, California native Kehlani has dealt with the struggles of depression, homelessness, and being a parent; all while creating music that millions of people listen to and appreciate. She was born on April 24, 1995 as Kehlani Ashley Parrish, to an African American father and a Caucasian mother. She dealt with hardship in the earlier part of her life due to her parents both being addicted to drugs. It was only once she started living with another family member, Kehalani was able to attain a bit of stability. As a teenager, Kehalani went to Oakland School for the Arts. She studied dance but dropped it in pursuit of music after an injury.

At 14-years-old, Kehlani joined a group called PopLyfe. She was the lead vocalist of the group, who were produced by D’Wayne Wiggins. PopLyfe performed at venues for two years before auditioning on the TV show, America’s Got Talent. Shortly afterward, Kehlani left PopLyfe and that’s when life became more of a struggle for the young singer dealing with homelessness and money issues. “ANTISUMMERLUV” was Kehlani’s first solo track. When Nick Cannon heard the track, he assisted with Kehlani’s living and music creation.

Towards the end of 2014, Kehlani’s effort in music became apparent with her mixtape, Cloud 19. The eight-track mixtape featured two artists and multiple producers. With the attention of followers, Kehlani released her second mixtape You Should Be Here in April of 2015. The mixtape featured musicians Chance the Rapper and BJ the Chicago Kid. It gained enough attention that she was able to sign with Atlantic Records. The rising artist went on tour, and by the end of 2016 she released the hit track “Gangsta”, which joined the soundtrack for movie Suicide Squad.


On January 27, 2017, Kehlani’s debut studio album, SweetSexySavage was released. The album featured four singles that drove increasing sales and streams across multiple music platforms. SweetSexySavage does a great job of creating R&B vibes for listeners. Lead single “Crzy” made it onto music charts as well as “Distraction” and “Gangsta.” Motivated by the success of the album, Kehlani began to create even greater recognition in the industry through collaborations with other artists. She partnered with Demi Lovato during her ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ world tour in the first part of 2018. She was featured on Charlie Puth’s “Done For Me.” Months later Kehlani made an appearance on Cardi B’s “Ring”, and during the summer of that same year she went another tour. This time as the opening act for Halsey’s ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom’ world tour.

While We Wait became the third mixtape released by Kehlani. The nine-track mixtape was released in February 2019. It featured appearances by Ty Dolla Sign, Musiq Soulchild, and 6lack. “Nights Like This” led the way for listeners who had a growing attraction for music from the artist. 2019 also saw the work of collaborations with other artists like Teyana Taylor’s “Morning” and EDM producer Zedd’s “Good Thing.”Kehlani started 2020 off being featured on Justin Beiber’s new album on the track “Get Me.” She also appeared on Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hit My Phone.”

By May, she released her sophomore studio album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t. The album has 15-tracks and features appearances from Tory Lanez, Jhene Aiko, James Blake, and more. Styled and layered with solid R&B vibes, the songs range from love to heartache. An overarching theme on the album is the feeling of loneliness and dealing with frustrations. Kehlani’s rise to fame has brought her the attention of people looking for authentic music. In an age where people have an overwhelming amount of options and distractions, Kehlani has been able to stand out and make an impression for those looking for quality music. With new contracts on the way, listeners should be prepared to listen to more of what Kehlani has to say.

Written by: Carlton Rolle

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