Album: Sweet Sexy Savage or SSS
Label: TSNMI / Atlantic
Highlight Tracks: “Piece of Mind,” “Advice,” “Hold Me by the Heart”
Techno R&B beats that seem to fill your soul and the voice of the ultimate girl next door: Kehlani Parrish has further ingrained her dominant music style in her debut studio album Sweet Sexy Savage. Known in the industry as just Kehlani, her Grammy-nominated mixtape You Should Be Here embodies similar emotions and motifs as her new album.
Sweet Sexy Savage parallels the poetic storytelling vibe exuded by artists such as Jhene Aiko and Frank Ocean. Kehlani seems to conjoin both neo-soul and pop in a magnetizing and consistent way. Her smooth and sometimes sultry voice will have you closing your eyes and remembering your first love.
The consistency in Sweet Sexy Savage, while an asset, can also be seen as the catalyst for why the album falls short of excellence. Much of the album sounds similar, and although songs like “Piece of Mind” and “Advice” stand out, many of the others seem to blend in with Kehlani’s consistent style.
The album begins with a passionate, ballad-like spoken word by Kehlani called “Intro.” The emotion that is spilt here, right before the beginning of the strong-starting “Keep On,” lays the unapologetic and self-love themes that can be felt throughout the album.
Songs such as “Passionate” and “CRZY” speak on Kehlani’s individualism and success. Both tracks push the idea of women who know exactly what they want, and exactly who they are. They reject the idea of male ownership and embrace independent women. However, by the end of the album, songs like “In my Feelings” and “I Wanna Be” shatter her guise and exemplify her desperate need for love and companionship.
Because of this, Sweet Sexy Savage walks the listener down a zigzag road.
Kehlani’s story, played out through the album, goes from a woman who is having fun and relieving her stress with a boy in “Distraction.” The album then takes a swift turn to a sadder moment, where Kehlani talks about heartbreak. She then turns around again, and speaks on her independence. By the end of the album, Kehlani’s desperation for a man who thinks she can fix all of her broken parts, shines through in “Hold Me by the Heart.”
Sweet Sexy Savage, although not consisting of dominant songs that you will individually remember, is full of Kehlani’s personal conflictions with love, life, heartbreak, and the limelight of fame. Kehlani has used Sweet Sexy Savage as her canvas for the illustration of the journey of love. Although complicated at times, she tacitly demonstrates that the journey must be taken and thoroughly appreciated — even through times of heartbreak.