Last year was one of romantic chaos for Kehlani — the singer-songwriter found herself in the middle of a love triangle with rising R&B stud PARTYNEXTDOOR and NBA star Kyrie Irving, with the media-hyped aftermath reportedly pushing her to the brink of suicide — but 2017’s Kehlani is an artist chomping at the bit to separate this past with her career. So far she’s worked quite successfully toward a musical vindication.
Released Jan. 13, “Do U Dirty,” essentially an emotionally-turbulent kickback, is extremely promising in light of her Jan. 27 album SweetSexySavage. It makes its stake not in creativity but consistency, utilizing straightforward synth and snare. OVO-esque sound is fitting considering her PartyNextDoor ties; the ambience of the harmonic background vocals complement her persona. “Sign the deal and then they cut the check / And ever since, my color’s showing,” she claims. “Change the scene, the things are better now / And you know the wave is never slowing, the wave is never slowing,” as her explosiveness is surrounded by an echoing hook, revolving around Kehlani and only Kehlani, further providing a spotlight to punch as much as she feels necessary.
At times it sounds like Keyshia Cole 2.0, which isn’t at all a bad thing. Simple yet nuanced, Kehlani delivers further justification of her somewhat low key foray into an infrequently penetrated gold mine of sound. Few have succeeded in establishing a Drake-like sound; this comes close.