At the age of 25, Kehlani has experienced much at the expense of the public eye. Through the various ups and downs, Kehlani continues to place her life on the front-lines for all to dissect. Released May 8, her sophomore album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t, follows 2017’s debut studio album, Sweet Sexy Savage. The new project also comes after last year’s While We Wait project. It furthermore marks a noticeable shift in her artistry. Through 15 tracks, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t shows off immeasurable levels of maturity, sexuality, and transparency. The project features guest appearances from artists like Jhené Aiko, Tory Lanez, Lucky Daye, James Blake, and Masego.
During a period filled with unpredictability, IWGUIW arrives at perfect timing. With constant feelings of isolation and detachment from evolving stay-at-home orders, Kehlani brings closeness to her listeners as we relish in relatable truths all through the album. In the same breath, IWGUIW also delivers similar feelings experienced around the world during these strange times. Like most of us today, Kehlani too thirsts for physical attachment, closeness, and emotional stability in these socially distant times.
On the album’s opener, “Toxic,” Kehlani notes isolation as reason for her accountability. Setting the project’s tone, Kehlani uses this back-and-forth theme of want and need. “Toxic” addresses her need to remove a former flame from her life. However, she struggles, lusting after sex when intoxicated.
Her sexual dexterity erupts on raunchy cuts like the Tory Lanez-assisted “Can I” and the Zodiac-seducing, “Water.” In both songs, Kehlani’s focus remains on her wants rather than her needs. She desires to be fed sexually. Kehlani’s appetite is vigorous. Her words are vivid. She displays pure confidence and power. The wants increase on the genuine “Change Your Life.” Teaming up with fellow California native Jhené Aiko, the two ask their lovers to let them in and ultimately change their lives for the better. This notion of “transforming for the better” is seen on “Bad News.” Kehlani pleads with her lover to leave his destructive lifestyle behind and just be with her.
Her needs reappear in various ways. For example, the need of emotional stability and security is seen on “Can You Blame Me,” and “Open (Passionate).” With help from Lucky Daye, Kehlani yearns for the presence of her lover in more ways than one on “Can You Blame Me.” Even at odds with him, she maintains high pride. She expresses she’d rather argue with him than be alone. “Open (Passionate)” highlights Kehlani’s emotional bareness. Almost childlike, her emotions reach all types of ranges. “Hate The Club” sparks an internal struggle. Assisted by Masego (and his lovely saxophone), even with her hatred for the club, her need to see this person she’s involved with leads her to the club (spite of the fact that she’s too timid to walk up to him… without liquid courage).
Kehlani is at her utmost strongest shape when she’s vulnerable. She uses tracks on the album such as “Everybody Business” to chin-check her haters. Instead of crumbling to the negativities of online trolls and cruel jerks, she empowers herself. While letting them know she hears and sees everything they say, she refuses to let them break her. On “Serial Lover,” Kehlani declares that she loves hard. Because of that, she feels it’s best that she stays single and recover. She puts her heart on her sleeve every-time and she feels she needs to slow down. “F&MU” is the full expression of IWGUIW. It acts as a testament of how love can be so chaotic, instantly switching from “I hate you” to “I love you;” From anger to passion; Heartfelt moments to heartbreak; It’s something we all experience as human beings.
One of the album’s most moving songs is “Grieving.” As she goes through doubtfulness and unsureness in her relationship, Kehlani reflects on all of the ways she has both catered to & watered this partnership. She looks back on how she played her role effortlessly and… it just doesn’t seem to be enough. She asks for peace of mind and solitude in order to collect herself as she mourns over this apparent failing relationship. On the album’s closer, Kehlani pays tribute to her late friend and collaborator, Lexii Alijai. Alijai flows flawlessly for nearly two minutes, spitting truth in every lyric. Alijai passed away back in January due to an accidental drug overdose. She appeared on Kehlani’s Grammy-nominated mixtape, 2015’s You Should Be Here.
Overall, Kehlani triumphs through each of her experiences and life lessons. There are no “L’s” because she simply turns them into meaningful lessons that propel her to the next level. She uses IWGUIW to combat negative energy, process her emotions, and bask in her honesty. She is even more sexually free and engaging on this project (than in any of her previous works). IWGUIW is seamless. Every song flows perfectly into the next. Her pace on this album is a lot more slowed and saturated in maturity. Pushing herself both musically and creatively, she exceeds her limitations and creates such a captivating album.
IWGUIW continues to showcase the healing spirit that is Kehlani. As she navigates through relationships, motherhood, womanhood, and life, she remains true to herself, her feelings, and emotions. Each project acts a new chapter in Kehlani’s life. She invites listeners to grow together with her. Her pen game is also one that should not be taken for granted. Each and every time, she delivers 100% and more. She continues to prove herself to be an unshakeable force in today’s contemporary R&B.
IWGUIW is a body of art that echos on the inside of each of listeners. The production is incredible and the writers / producers are all insanely talented. Honestly, with each play, you discover a new favorite track. Listeners connect with the songs more as they continue to play them. Needing no skips, I give IWGUIW a 8.5/10
Top 5 Songs From IWGUIW:
(Not Including Singles)
- Can I
- Change Your Life
- Can You Blame Me
Serial Lover, Hate The Club