Kehlani Talks Sexuality, Grammys, And Her Upcoming Album

Photographed by Jacqueline Harriet. Vintage coat from Wasteland, jacket worn underneath and choker by Acne Studios, top by Dries Van Noten, sweatpants by Haider Ackermann, Kehlani’s own necklaces worn throughout.

ride the wave of the kehlani tsunami

The following feature appears in the March 2016 issue of NYLON.

Spend the afternoon with Kehlani and little will be left unsaid. She’ll quip on Justin Bieber’s impressive last album: “He does that shit!” She’ll laugh about growing pains: “I’m just now learning how to be a woman, how to match my bra and my panties.” And she’ll deliver clinching one-liners about her sexuality: “I’ve dated a man, a woman, and a hermaphrodite.”

Her candor is especially apparent within her lyrics, crafted by the heavily tattooed, Bay Area-bred beauty herself. “I’m a very parallel-to-my-life writer,” says the 20-year-old, tucking in her legs as she sits in a studio in Los Angeles, clad in ripped jeans and a black T-shirt. On mixtapes Cloud 19 and You Should Be Here, released independently in 2014 and 2015, respectively, Kehlani sings, unfeigned and frank in her husky coo, about love, self-esteem, and family over modest yet danceable beats reminiscent of ‘90s and early ‘00s R&B. 

Click through the gallery to continue the feature.

Stylist: Debbie Gonzales. Hair: Brian Fisher at The Wall Group using Oribe Hair Care. Makeup: Hinako at The Wall Group using Tom Ford. 

Photographed by Jacqueline Harriet. Plaid shirt by Vince, vintage T-shirt from Wasteland, ear studs from Tsunami Shop, earrings by H&M.

Due in part to her tomboyish swag and tight choreography, she’s been compared to Aaliyah—arguably the poster child of that era—but her influences range from D’Angelo and Musiq Soulchild to groups like Destiny’s Child, TLC, and SWV. “I feel like that’s when music was at this golden time, when people were very outspoken but also had a purpose,” she says. “So for my music, I set out with a mission statement that whatever came out of my mouth had some purpose, even if it was a trap song.”

The 15 tracks on You Should Be Here have been streamed more than 60 million times on SoundCloud, and the mixtape earned a nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the Grammys—an exceptional feat for someone who’s yet to release a record on a major label. But the game is changing. “Mindie” artists (major acts with indie cred) are at the forefront of the pack, and, after signing with Atlantic Records last year, Kehlani is preparing to release a new album this spring.

“Everybody told me that I wasn’t going to make it. Tomboys were so cool, then everybody got really sexualized,” the singer-songwriter admits of her preferred ensemble of baggy pants, a cutoff shirt, and sneakers. Her style criteria is simple: “Can I lay [sic] in it? Can I walk in it?” Still, she’s not totally satisfied with what she sees in the mirror. “I started getting tattoos because I didn’t fuck with the way I looked,” she says. “I still don’t think I’m cute. I think I look like a little boy and that I’m just rough.” But Kehlani is, in fact, stunning. Her ethnicity is a combination of “black, white, Native American, and Spanish” and she has an infectious smile, bright eyes, and enviable abs.

Photographed by Jacqueline Harriet. Jacket and choker by Acne Studios, top by Dries Van Noten, sweatpants by Haider Ackermann, sneakers by Nike, ear studs from Tsunami Shop, earrings by H&M, socks from Target.

Raised in a family of little means in Oakland, California, Kehlani was adopted by her aunt after her mother, an addict, went to jail. (Her father died when she was just a baby.) Even after her mother was released, Kehlani didn’t become “cool” with her until more recently, says the singer, adding that her mom is in a program to kick her habit. “Life’s too short. I’m from Oakland. I get a phone call about somebody dying or going to jail every week. I know what state my mother’s in so I’m not wasting any time.”

As a kid, Kehlani attended Oakland School for the Arts, where she focused on dancing and singing. It was there that she met her first girlfriend, but she doesn’t feel the need to categorize her sexuality. “I don’t believe anyone is necessarily put in one box,” she explains.

While still in school, she fronted the group PopLyfe, which competed on America’s Got Talent. Though they didn’t win, Kehlani left an impression on the show’s host, Nick Cannon, who recruited her for a rap crew. But she didn’t like spitting words written by someone other than herself. “Months later I put out a couple songs by myself, and he was like, ‘Oh, I see what you were trying to do,’” she recalls. 

Photographed by Jacqueline Harriet. Jacket and choker by Acne Studios, top by Dries Van Noten, sweatpants by Haider Ackermann, sneakers by Nike, ear studs from Tsunami Shop, earrings by H&M, socks from Target.

Soon after, Cannon flew her to L.A. and set her up in an apartment so she could focus on her solo career. “I remember going days without taking showers, and not having bread for food and getting in trouble at the store for stealing,” she says, tearing up. “Now I had a refrigerator, my own room. He turned my life around.” It was then that she hit the studio and recorded Cloud 19.

On her next album, Kehlani is “gearing toward being more mature.” She’s already hit the studio with Timbaland, but, joint efforts aside, she’ll continue to write her own songs. “I feel like I have too much pride,” she says. “I’m Grammy-nominated off of my words. But now I feel like I have to be very careful and dissect every song. I can’t start off on a great foot and then let everything go downhill. The pressure is on.”

We also see Margot Robbie take on Sharon Tate

The new trailer for Quentin Tarantino's upcoming movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood gives a look at the Manson Family. In the previous clip, we saw Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio at their funniest. Now, we get to see Margot Robbie take on actress Sharon Tate, Lena Dunham become a cult member, and how the fictional and real-life story lines will intersect in the film.

Per a press release, the film—that follows a fictional story set around the time of the real-life Manson murders—"visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore."

In this clip, after being introduced to Dalton and Booth, viewers get to see how the latter ends up mingling with the Manson Family. As Booth picks up a girl (Margaret Qualley) on the side of the road, he unknowingly welcomes a Manson family member into his life and begins to visit their ranch. The fiction and real-life stories intersect when we find out that Dalton lives next store to Tate, who was murdered by the members of Charles Manson's cult in 1969.

Watch the new trailer for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood ahead of its July 26 theatrical release, below.


Photos by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

This photo proves that they are the chillest onscreen family

Sophie Turner just posted a photo of herself, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead Wright—aka the Stark siblings—to her Instagram, showing just what the three used to get up to when the Game of Thrones cameras weren't rolling.

The photo shows Wright looking quite pleased with himself while sitting on a makeshift throne, wearing no pants. As he should be, seeing as (spoiler) his character, Bran, won the Iron Throne this weekend. Williams, meanwhile, is looking way too cool to be involved in the shenanigans, wearing a pair of black sunglasses and staring absently off-camera. As for Turner, she's looking away from her onscreen brother, too, nervously smoking a Juul.

"The pack survived," Turner captioned the photo.

This photo just goes to prove that the Stark siblings are the chillest onscreen family. (It also proves, yet again, that Turner's social media is an absolute delight.)

We're actually a little sad that this footage didn't make it into the final season, considering how many modern-day objects have been spotted in the show's last few episodes.

Photo via @mileycyrus on Twitter

Meet Ashley

Miley Cyrus shared the trailer for her forthcoming Black Mirror episode, and it's basically Hannah Montana set in a dystopian future. Cyrus is a pink wig-wearing pop star named Ashley who is rolling out an in-home virtual assistant, named Ashley Too, that looks like her and shares her voice. But, as is the case with every Black Mirror episode, this technology is not as cute and fun as it's advertised to be.

In the trailer, we get the idea that Ashley is all about wanting fans to "believe" in themselves—but underneath that pink wig, maybe she doesn't feel that same self-love. After Ashley Too introduces herself to fan and new owner Rachel, promising to be her friend, we get a look at Ashley's darker side. She's depressed and tired of the pop star life. A record label executive says to several people in the room, "She doesn't understand how fragile all this is." As they consider upping her dose of medication, Ashley's life is on a downward slope. "It's getting so hard to keep doing this," she voices over glimpses of a police car chase, performances, and breakdowns backstage.

But back to the technology: Does Ashley's breakdown also mean the breakdown of Ashley Too? Looks like it. We see Rachel's virtual assistant screaming, "Get that cable out of my ass! Holy shit! Pull it out," breathing a sigh of relief as soon as they pull it out. A title card then reveals the episode name, "Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too."

Watch the full trailer and get a full view of Cyrus' cyborg-esque pop star look, below. Black Mirror returns to Netflix on June 5.

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Photo by Paras Griffin / Stringer / Getty Images.

Several actresses allegedly had "issues" with him

Lena Waithe's Showtime series, The Chi, just lost one of its main characters. Jason Mitchell, who was also set to appear in the Netflix film Desperados, has been dropped from both projects following multiple allegations of misconduct. He has also been dropped by his agent and manager.

Hollywood Reporter heard from a source "with knowledge" of The Chi, who says that Tiffany Boone, the actress who plays Mitchell's girlfriend on the show, is just one of several actresses who had "issues" with him. She eventually told producers at Fox21 that she could no longer work with him after filing several sexual harassment complaints. Apparently, her fiancé, Dear White People co-star Marque Richardson, would join her on set when she would shoot with Mitchell.

While news of Mitchell's alleged misconduct is just now beginning to surface, it looks like the ball started rolling on the fallout weeks ago. He was dropped from Desperados and replaced by Lamorne Morris before filming began. A source from the production team said that the producers received "specific information" that they reviewed and acted on quickly. Similarly, a source familiar with Mitchell's former agent, UTA, said the decision to drop him a few weeks ago was very quick following the allegations.

Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images

Prior to the college admissions scandal, she said she doesn't "care about school"

Apparently, Olivia Jade wants to go back to school despite all those YouTube videos that suggested otherwise. Back in March, it was revealed that her mom, Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin, and dad, Mossimo Giannulli, had scammed Jade's way into the University of Southern California. Now, Loughlin faces jail time, and Jade lost out on plenty of lucrative ad partnerships.

According to Us Weekly, "Olivia Jade wants to go back to USC," per a source. "She didn't get officially kicked out and she is begging the school to let her back in." Another source though ousted Jade's real motivation to the publication. "She knows they won't let her in, so she's hoping this info gets out," they shared. "She wants to come out looking like she's changed, learned life lessons and is growing as a person, so she for sure wants people to think she is interested in her education."

Jade previously shared in a YouTube video she's in college for the "experience of like game days, partying" rather than the education. She also said, "I don't know how much of school I'm going to attend... I don't really care about school, as you guys all know." Though these statements were made prior to the scandal coming to light, her brand partnerships didn't come into question until her parents were indicted.

Right now, despite previous reports that Jade and her sister would both be dropping out of USC, Jade's enrollment has been placed on hold—meaning she cannot register for classes, or even withdraw from the school—until her parents' court case comes to a close. Then, the school will make its own decision as to how Jade will be affected. I think, either way, she should have to pay off a few of her classmates' loans for all the BS she pulled.