When Kehlani was fronting the Oakland band Poplyfe during the sixth season of America's Got Talent, judge Piers Morgan informed the young singer, "I don't think you need the group." Four years later, Kehlani had two independent solo releases on which to build: the eight-track Cloud19 (2014) and this album-length affair. A week after the latter was made available, major-label Atlantic announced its signing of Kehlani, one of the more promising artists of the mid-2010s. While Kehlani has fashioned themself into a contemporary R&B artist comparable to the likes of Jhené Aiko and Tinashe, the singer and songwriter has retained the charming, down-to-earth qualities displayed with their former group. They're clearly paving an independent lane, unafraid to knock suitors down a couple pegs ("How That Taste"), allowing vulnerability to shine through ("You Should Be Here"), and affirming individuality; in the "take me as I am" highlight "Unconditional," they offer "And I'd rather lace my sneakers up, 'cause high heels ain't my thing." Chance the Rapper's appearance is bound to get more attention than any of the other collaborations, but "Down for You," a duet with BJ the Chicago Kid, is deeper and more representative of Kehlani's refreshing approach to contemporary R&B for young adults.
You Should Be Here Review
by Andy Kellman