A “Sweet, Sexy, Savage” is on the cover of another publication. Kehlani’s covering Teen VOGUE and in it, speaking on all things love, breakups, and community about the COVID-19 crisis. The songstress who recently released her “It Was Good Until It Wasn’t” album chatted with TV’s culture & entertainment director Dani Kwateng-Clark (via safely social distanced Zoom) and opened up about life under the spotlight, raising her daughter with love, giving back to her community and the pain she unpacks on her new project.
This comes after the always honest songstress admitted that she ended her “open relationship” with YG over cheating after she found “deep and intricate” texts he sent to someone else.
“It was deep and intricate. It was a big weaving thing that turned into something else.”
Pain, indeed. See some highlights from the cover story below.
On growing up on social media and being aware of how all her actions will be scrutinized:
“I’m not annoyed [with fame]. It’s more like I pick and choose my battles. I get scrutinized so much…It’s one of those things where I think I’ve been so open with how much it’s affected me that people know I can be poked at, so they continue to poke… That’s why when people do that whole, ‘These new girls, they need to be like Beyoncé and Aaliyah. Aaliyah would never be on Instagram, commenting back.’ It’s like, ‘Bro, Aaliyah didn’t have an Instagram! It didn’t exist. Beyoncé was a whole grown adult before Instagram came out.’ You can’t compare us. We grew up getting dissected.”
On spending so much time in the past analyzing everything she said in public, crafting her words so that no one would take offense or manipulate her intentions:
“If I’d have spent more time knowing myself and getting to know myself and learning to really, really trust and love myself, then all of that wouldn’t have bothered me so much and I could have saved myself so much unnecessary bullsh*t.”
On rolling up her sleeves and forcing herself to learn everything she needed to be comfortable and protect her work:
“I’m [now] on every phone call, every group chat, cc’d in every email, making sure that I have all the numbers of everybody that’s associated with my business and my brand. I can advocate for myself and I think that’s important for young artists everywhere to know: You need to be involved with your business and your brand so you can advocate for yourself.”
On wanting to see less “cancel culture” and more understanding for artists who need space to evolve:
“Fans put so much pressure on artists, sometimes more than the industry. I’ve never been compared more in my life than last year and this year, and now it seems like every day I see a ‘SZA, Kehlani, H.E.R., or Summer Walker — one of them has to go’…. We have to start appreciating multiple people at the same time.”
“I have one married couple in my family and it’s my grandpa and his wife, and it’s still kind of a relationship that… still feels far away to me. I’m used to single moms. I’m used to baby daddies not being around. I’m used to arguments and fights and people not talking to each other and people having mass secrets. I’m not used to positive love. So it took me a long time to learn what positive love is…. Love doesn’t have to be difficult and it doesn’t have to hurt to measure how much and how good and how deep it is. We grew up getting taught the ride-or-die mentality.”
On maintaining that her experiences and heartbreaks are an important part of the journey:
“Each relationship I went through, I feel like I took a brick from it and put it into my house. If I did not learn those lessons, no matter how hard they were, I wouldn’t be the person that I am right now.”
On wanting to directly contribute to the Oakland community that raised her:
“What’s kept me going is knowing that if I do music and make as much money as I can, then I can open childcare centers. I can make a difference in the foster care system. I can open art centers and summer programs for underprivileged kids.”
On who supports her:
“My cheerleaders are my friends and my auntie and my family. They see me coming home and waking up at 5 a.m. with my daughter and then getting no sleep and getting right to work. Them knowing how much I’m proud of that, them acknowledging [the work], that part means the most to me.”