After listening to You Should Be Here it’s difficult not to fall for Kehlani. The 20 year old songstress’ style is a birthchild of some of R&B’s most beloved. Still, the Bay Area native finds a way to combine those styles into something of her own and shows a devotion to her rough Oakland, CA upbringing along the way. She’s got an artistic sense that rivals the late Aaliyah with an ability to be as scathing on songs like “Yet” and “How’s That Taste” as she is alluring on songs like “Unconditional” and the Chance The Rapper assisted “The Way.”
The mixtape is etched in contemporary times with references to Instagram pictures and song titles such as “Niggas,” a song that details growth in her love life from a naive girl to a woman who realizes her worth. She surprises with her maturity and self-awareness. You almost forget that this is a girl who still can’t even buy a drink from a bar when you hear the perspective she takes when speaking on her estranged relationship with her mother on “The Letter” and the uplifting messages on the “Bright.” BJ The Chicago Kid gives Kehlani a brilliant assist on “Down For You.” The two flex their powers for a modern duet with an old school feel reminiscent of your favorite 90’s R&B song with a new school kick to it.
Where it exceeds in style and attitude, the album does backtrack in true technique. While talented beyond her years, Kehlani’s writing could use a bit more depth. Her emotion and melody gives you the feeling, but the words themselves seem to remain at a surface level, something that could surely be improved with the help of more experienced songwriters.
Overall, Kehlani’s You Should Be Here shines as bright as she does. An introduction that will be well received by many.