Album Review: Kehlani – ‘It Was Good Until It Wasn’t’

Kehlani – It Was Good Until It Wasn’t Review

Whenever it’s time for Kehlani to drop a new project, there always seems to be major events in her own that could make anyone falter. In the past twelve months alone, she had an on again-off again relationship with rapper YG, had a falling out with one of her musical idols, Keyshia Cole (as well as fellow Oakland artist Kamaiyah), and had to go through the death of two friends within a couple of months of each other at the beginning of an already crazy year. But as the saying go, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and Kehlani is living proof of that. With a rollout already planned including an opening spot on Justin Bieber’s summer tour and guesting on his Changes track “Get Me,” Kehlani was set to go all out for her sophomore release. Now with the world adjusting to a new normal with COVID-19 and quarantining, Miss Parish took advantage of the lockdown and took things into her own hands. With her videographer/photographer friend, she began self-directing and editing her music videos under the newly-formed Honey Shot Productions, an ode to her 2017 single “Honey,” and came up with a new game plan to launch It Was Good Until It Wasn’t, her second studio-album. With the title inspired by a conversation the twenty-five year old had with Drake, the new album follows 2017’s SweetSexySavage and first full body of work since the release of her third mixtape, While We Wait, which dropped in 2019 before the birth of her daughter, Adeya. Now as a mother and businesswoman, Kehlani’s new album has her more sure of herself and in control.

The album kicks off with the lead single “Toxic,” detailing the highs and lows that comes with being in a toxic relationship over a dark beat with Ty Dolla $ign providing perfect background vocals. That leads into the “nasty” record of the album “Can I” featuring Tory Lanez and samples Aaliyah’s 2003 posthumous single “Come Over,” where Lani is hoping to heat things up between she and her partner. After appearing on “Hit My Phone” from her recent EP Suga, Megan Thee Stallion returns the favor by giving game on why she has the best “you know what” on “Real Hot Girl Skit” before shifting into the short-but-sweet “Water.” Appropriately titled, Kehlani starts the record off with the lyrics “Swimming with a Pisces every night / Head like a Scorpio / Shy like a Cancer,” serving as a double-entendre with water astrology signs while letting you know she hasn’t been this wet in years. All things aren’t always dark on the album though. Very optimistic in love, Kehlani vows to change he partner’s life to be their everything with a much-anticipated collaboration with fellow Los Angeles representative, Jhene Aiko. And if if sounds like you’ve heard the song before, that’s because “Change Your Life” was previewed in the music video for her failed Keyshia Cole collaboration and fan requested single, “All Me.” Sampling a little of Pharrell and Jay-Z’s “Frontin’” in the hook, “Everybody’s Business” finds Kehlani not afraid to lay her cards on the table for all the flaws she may have had and the stories about her. That goes hand in hand with “Serial Lover,” where the singer-songwriter admits she loves hard no matter the gender (Kehlani has been open about being queer and pansexual). Things get a little jazzy and laid back on “Hate The Club” featuring “trap house jazz” artist Masego, providing a 90s R&B slow jam vibe with the saxophone in the background. As with every relationship gone bad, Kehlani takes time to say her final goodbyes on “Grieving,” an unexpected-yet-welcoming collaboration with English singer/songwriter/producer James Blake. Not one to be afraid to speak her mind, Kehlani is clearly at the mark of moving on with the record “Open (Passionate).”

“And what if I slip up? / What if tequila grabs my neck and say, ‘Don’t b**** up?’ / What if I wanna shoot my shot and load the clip up? / And if I do the same, will you play the victim? / Do you got me too open to be open?” Kehlani sings on the last musical moment on the album where she’s pondering if she can trust love again, let alone herself. But with self-assurance, she becomes more settle in her mind on the chill vibes of the second half of the song. “Lexii’s Outro” is the closing moment on the album has Kehalni celebrating the life and legacy of her friend, rapper Lexii Alijai, who passed away at just 21 years old on New Year’s Day.

It Was Good Until It Wasn’t signals the growth between every project that Kehlani has released thus far. There are moments reflected from her “Mixtape Lani” and “Soundcloud Lani” days like on the recent standalone-drops like “You Know Wassup” and “Valentine’s Day (Shameful).” She delves deeper into her sensual side more than ever on records like “F&MU” and slight vulnerability on the Lucky Daye-assisted “Can You Blame Me.” With that said, Kehlani delivers an R&B album that showcases a woman who may have gone through a terrible breakup, but everything doesn’t have to be hurt and hardened while there’s still hope for the future in quest for a true deserving love. What will be next of Kehlani’s journey? Only time will tell, but she’s only going up on the trajectory she’s been on lately!

It Was Good Until It Wasn’t is now available on all streaming platforms and digital music retailers.