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Kehlani Is Sweet, Sexy, Savage, And All Grown Up

Music
Photographed By David Camarena.

We chat with the singer about her debut album

If we had to sum up Kehlani’s new debut album in two words, they would be grown up. The singer once said the title of her last Grammy-nominated mixtape, You Should Be Here, was an homage to all of the people no longer in her life. If that’s the case, SweetSexySavage is very much her self-assured ‘fuck you if you’re not here, I’m doing just fine without you’ call-out to everyone else.

The first track is the spoken-word “Intro.” It’s short—less than a minute long—but it sets the mood for the rest of the album. On it, Reyna Biddy, the singer’s friend and artist, says:

My condolences to anyone who’s ever lost me, and to anyone who got lost in me, or to anyone who ever felt they took a loss with me. My apologies for the misunderstanding or the lack thereof, I’m sorry you missed the God in me and I’m sorry you missed the light, I’m sorry you forgot the way I arose like the moon night after night with the burden to forgive, eager to feed you everything. See, I’m a holy woman. 

That’s a ‘fuck you if you’re not here’ sentiment if we’ve ever heard one. SweetSexySavage is long, 19 songs in total, including two bonus ones (one of which is “Gangsta,” from the Grammy-nominated Suicide Squad soundtrack). Kehlani has been counting down the release on her Instagram for at least a month now, and fans have been waiting for the album for about two years. The Oakland native said that, in the process of completing the album, she felt introduced to herself many times over and that her life took many turns.

As you might’ve gathered from headlines, the past couple of years haven’t been the smoothest for the 21-year-old. So how did she know the album was finished, and that now was the right time to put it out? “I didn't necessarily. I'm signed to a label, so it wasn't just up to me on when it was going to come out. It was all about timing and making sure my team and their team and everybody was ready to help me move forward in the best way possible,” she tells us. “And I feel like it's a good time now because of all this sad ass shit going on, and my album's happy.” 

Sad shit, indeed. The two of us chatted on the phone the day of the inauguration and the vibe was noticeably somber. What Kehlani’s great at, though, is weeding out the good in a sea of bad. “I'm kind of just trying to keep in mind that god has a bigger plan for all of it, and that we wouldn't be put through anything that we couldn't handle,” she says. “Whatever is going to happen is supposed to happen, we just gotta deal with it the best we can, you know?”

This positive outlook is evident in her SweetSexySavage tracks, also. The album doesn’t include many ballads; “Hold Me By The Heart” is the closest qualifier. For the most part, it’s driven by pop-laced, upbeat tunes. One of the more sentimental tracks is “Thank You,” which Kehlani says she wrote for her fans and god. The singer writes all of her songs, and she’s been doing so since she started out. She tells us that “Thank You” was one of the easiest for her to create because showing appreciation comes so easily. “I'm a very grateful person, I’m the person at the end of the tour that cries, pops the champagne, and is like, ‘oh my god, thank you guys so much, for everything,’ she tells us. “I'm very thankful, especially to my fans for sticking by me through all my ups and downs.” 

Up until this point, Kehlani’s only put out mixtapes. She tells us that writing, producing, and recording-wise, the process is pretty much the same. “To me, it's still creating however you create. I think that people apply too much unnecessary weird pressure, they end up kind of ruining themselves.” She tries not to give into the stresses. If she falls victim, she likes to take a break and engage in self-care rituals such as dabbiling in essential oils, aromatherapy, and smoking weed. “I've just been creating and living and taking things day by day and step by step and allowing myself to breathe and be nice to myself and not, you know, drive myself nuts, which is what I feel like a lot of people do.”

With 19 tracks, it might come as a surprise that the record includes no features whatsoever; Kehlani’s voice is the only one you’ll hear—at least, the only one singing. Weaved throughout some of the songs are skits and voice notes from her close friends and her grandmother (she talks more in detail about that here on her Instagram). She did this to “make it less about me and more to understand the fact that this album is about being who you are… It’s not just my story, it's a story for everyone.”

Even though she decided to ride solo this time around (her last mixtape had guest appearances from Chance the Rapper and BJ the Chicago Kid), she says she’s definitely open to collaborating in the future. Specifically, with someone who’s going to push her musically. “I really want to work with Disclosure, I've been saying that for a long time,” she says. “Disclosure, Ed Sheeran, or like, just some shit that I wouldn't even expect to come naturally… Something fun and more random.” 

Now that her long-awaited album is officially out, going on tour is next for the singer. Some artists are iffy about the demands of touring, but Kehlani says she’s all for it. “I love the road, I love that shit. I like being gone… I feel like I'm lost.” She’s most looking forward to “not knowing where I’m at when I wake up,” but first, she’s looking forward to drinking some wine and popping in somebody’s swimming pool to celebrate the release. “I'm ready to like, get drunk as fuck with my friends,” she says. Fittingly, SweetSexySavage would be the perfect soundtrack to do just that. 

Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

"I had to create a harder shell about being a woman"

In a panel discussion during Gwyneth Paltrow's In Goop Health summit, actress Jessica Alba revealed that she "stopped eating" to avoid unwanted attention from men when she was first starting her career in Hollywood.

According to People, Alba said that she "had a curvy figure as a young girl" and, as such, was made to feel as though her body was the reason that men may be inappropriate toward her. "I was meant to feel ashamed if I tempted men," Alba said during the panel discussion. "Then I stopped eating a lot when I became an actress. I made myself look more like a boy so I wouldn't get as much attention. I went through a big tomboy phase."

She continued, "In Hollywood, you're really preyed upon. They see a young girl, and they just want to touch you inappropriately or talk to you inappropriately or think that they're allowed to be aggressive with you in a way."

Alba also noted that she was raised in a conservative household. "My mom would say, 'You have a body, and it's very womanly, and people don't understand that you're 12,'" she said. "I wasn't allowed to have my nalgas out, which is butt cheeks [in Spanish], but I was born with a giant booty, and they come out of everything. So, I didn't get to wear normal things that all my friends wore."

She said that these reactions to her body really affected her attitude. "I created this pretty insane 'don't fuck with me' [attitude]," she said. "I had to create a harder shell about being a woman."

According to her, her relationship to her body only changed when her first child, Honor, was born in 2008. "[After she was born,] I was like, Oh this is what these boobies are meant to do! Feed a kid!" she said. "And that was the dopest shit I'd ever done. So, I came into my body as a woman finally and I stopped being ashamed of myself."

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo courtesy of Teva

Because of course

Teva, the most obvious lesbian footwear brand since Birkenstock, really knows its customer base. In time for Pride, the brand has teamed up with Tegan and Sara for a gay shoe to end all gay shoes. In other words, your Pride footwear is on lock.

The shoe isn't just your average Teva sandal. Tegan and Sara's design, the Teva Flatform Universal Pride sandal, is a 2.5-inch platform shoe with a rainbow sole. Tegan and Sara noted in a press release that they have been Teva wearers for pretty much their whole lives. "We got our first pair of Teva sandals when we were 16," they said. "This rainbow Flatform collab is like full circle LGBTQ+ Pride validation."

What's better, with each sandal sale, Teva will donate $15 to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, up to $30,000. The funds donated will go toward scholarships which will give young members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to go to summer camps which will "help develop self-confidence and leadership abilities in a safe and nurturing environment." Tegan and Sara added, "Teva's generous support for our foundation will allow us to help even more LGBTQ+ youth."

Available today at Teva's and Nordstrom's websites, the sandal retails for $80.

Photo courtesy of Teva

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Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

"Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design"

Prada Group has announced that Prada, as well as all of its brands, will now be fur-free. According to a press release from the Humane Society, Prada, Miu Miu, Church's, and Car Shoe will ban the use of fur beginning with the Spring/Summer 2020 collection (aka the Fashion Week coming up next). The list of fashion designers banning fur only continues to grow, with 3.1 Phillip Lim, Coach, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and more having stopped using the material in seasons past.

"The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility, and our fur-free policy—reached following a positive dialogue with the Fur Free Alliance, in particular with LAV and the Humane Society of the United States—is an extension of that engagement," Miuccia Prada told the Human Society. "Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products."

Following London Fashion Week designers forgoing the use of fur in September and the first-ever Vegan Fashion Week taking place in February, it's easy to imagine an entirely fur-free fashion future. It's especially easy, I presume, for the brands to consider a fur-free future, given that entire cities and states are taking a stance. New York is following in the footsteps of Los Angeles banning fur, with a bill proposed this March that would ban sales across New York State.

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Photo by Johnny Dufort

"Club leisure" is the new athleisure

Alexander Wang is recognizing clubbing as the workout that it truly is with his latest Adidas collaboration. In this fifth installment, he "changes gears," per a press release from the brand, taking the iconic sports brand to the dance floor.

For the new campaign, the collection comes to life in iconic choreographer Tanisha Scott's dance studio and stars dancers Noemi Janumala, Dakota Moore, Avi McClish, and Olivia Burgess. The dancers show just how far these clothes can go when you want to bust a move or stretch, but TBH, I'll leave these poses to the pros and just use my clothes for flexing on the 'gram.

The collection—which features six apparel items, three shoes, and six accessories—features, per a press release, "Wang's knack for pre-styling." Standouts from the mostly black-and-white items include a silver sneaker that was *made* for moonwalking, an airy windbreaker that has just the right dash of bright blue with the scattered Adidas trefoil design, and a towel hoodie that you won't feel bad sweating in.

Ahead of the May 25 collection drop online and in stores, peep the gorgeous campaign images below.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Joggers, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Towel Hoodie, $350, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Sock Leggings, $60, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Adilette Slides, $90, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Futureshell Shoes in Platinum Metallic, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Core White, $280, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Shorts in Core White, $120, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Bum Bag, $50, available staring May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Duffle Bag, $70, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.


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Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

And Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's reaction to that prediction is literally all of us

Though it felt like no one saw the bonkers end to Game of Thrones coming, Gwendoline Christie, who played Ser Brienne of Tarth on the show, predicted exactly who would end up with the majority of power in the Seven, or rather, Six Kingdoms years before it all went down. During an interview leading up to the penultimate season of Game of Thrones in 2017, Christie sat down with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister) for an interview with Mario Lopez, and they were both asked to predict how the whole thing would come to a close. Spoilers ahead...

Lopez posed the question, "If you were a gambling man, who would you say?" Coster-Waldau replied: "Well gambling, the odds now are clearly in Daenerys Targaryan's favor. Or, that guy," he said, pointing to a picture of the Night King.

But Christie, knowing Game of Thrones' tendencies toward the unpredictable, came right back at Coster-Waldau, asking, "But don't you think it's going to be someone out of left field?"

"So I'm wondering if it might be Bran," Christie suggested, "Just because we keep seeing the world from his perspective, don't we? We keep seeing the visions. So is he in the future, projecting in the past?"

Coster-Waldau's reaction to the suggestion that Bran will rule over them all is, well, exactly how we all felt watching it play out in real time this past Sunday evening. "The three eyed raven? As a king? No, that doesn't make sense," he said. And, well, same. Because while I usually *adore* watching Christie shut down Coster-Waldau, like they're an old married couple bickering, this time I'm on his side. It made no sense!

Coster-Waldau attempted to reason with her, saying that if Bran was planning the whole thing, then he wanted Jaime to push him out the window, and that makes no sense at all. But Christie stood firm in her belief, and, as last Sunday demonstrated, her commitment to this highly improbably outcome paid off. We hope she placed a sizable bet in Vegas.

Catch the full clip below.

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