Of course it does, but these things stick with you and words have meaning. They hold power. They can build you up, and they can tear you down.
I haven’t always been the woman I am now. It took me years to build up all this confidence, self-esteem, and self assurance. With artists like Beyonce and Solange putting out such powerful albums over the last few years (I’m also referring to 2013’s BEYONCE), I’ve begun to see that there is no right or wrong way to be yourself, and furthermore, there is no right or wrong way to be a woman.
Now let’s rewind to 2015, I can’t remember exactly how, but I stumbled across a new artist named Kehlani. I saw that she had a project called You Should Be Here on SoundCloud. I listened, and I loved it. Naturally, I went through her SoundCloud some more and went back and listened to Cloud 19. Again, I was feeling it. What I liked was that I could relate to these songs and the messages were positive and uplifting.
Fast forward to the present, and Kehlani has released her debut album, SweetSexySavage. The title alone draws you in. When I first heard the title, I thought, “damn, that’s me.” I pressed play and heard songs that somewhat reflected my life.
SweetSexySavage starts with a poetic introduction by Reyna Biddy which definitely sets the tone for the rest of the album. Towards the end, she says “the truth is, I’m a superwoman, and some days I’m an angry woman, and some days I’m a crazy woman,” and that’s when I waved my church fan. Hell, sometimes I’m all three in one day, and it took me a while to learn that that’s okay.
When I hear the word “sweet” as it refers to people, I think of someone kind-hearted. But after listening to this album, I think it can also be used to describe someone vulnerable. When you’re vulnerable, you’re open and you’re honest. You have nothing to hide. I think of songs like “Piece of Mind,” “Get Like,” and “Hold Me By the Heart,” just to name a few.
I’ve always been a little awkward and shy and reserved, so sexy wasn’t always a word I used to describe myself. Then something within me changed, and it was like I was a new person and sexy became a word I would use to describe myself. This is when I press play on “Distraction.” It’s got that classic groovy R&B sound, and on it Kehlani seductively asks a potential beau if they’d like to be a distraction. Then maybe skip over to “Everything is Yours,” where things slow down a little bit.
The word “savage” is used a lot nowadays. I guess we’re all savages in some way – it’s innate. But Kehlani makes being a savage sound so damn good. I’ll admit, I’ve done some not-so-sweet things when it came to my relationships. Looking back, I was wrong. The most savage song on this album is “Do U Dirty.” The speech at the beginning says “next nigga to fuck with me, gon’ be stuck with me with his stuck ass” and then Kehlani goes further to say how she’s going to do this person dirty and even warns them at the end of the hook saying, “I think you should be worried.” And then there’s “CRZY.” “If I gotta be a bitch, Imma be a bad one.” This song is savage, but it’s also fun as hell.
Being 19 tracks long, SweetSexySavage is a lot to digest. When I first saw the tracklist, I was a little overwhelmed and worried, as this is Kehlani’s debut album, and her first introduction to a lot of people. However, the album isn’t all over the place, so even if it is a lot to sit down and listen to at once, it can be listened to in sessions.
No matter how you listen to the album, there’s no doubt that Kehlani came hard with this one. I think that as she matures in her personal life, we’ll get even more grown music from her. There’s no doubt that in a world where women aren’t always treated they way we should be, SweetSexySavage is a breath of fresh air and an uplifting soundtrack to so many women’s lives.
I can only speak for myself, but growing up, I’ve always felt that I had to hold up a certain image. . . that as a woman I had to maintain a sense of demure. I had to dress a certain way and act a certain way. Then, as I got older and got out in the world, I said, “fuck that.” I started wearing my hair big and curly, wore whatever from baggy joggers and a t-shirt to short skirts and crop tops, got tattoos up and down my arm, piercings, and embraced the Sweet Sexy Savage in me.