Kehlani is prime “bestie” material.
Decorated with tattoos, flamboyant red hair in a bun, a Supreme cap, cargo pants, and Timberland boots, the Bay Area songstress kicks it on the couch as soon as she strolls into VIBE HQ, proving her down-ass personality on songs like “FWU“—the fire jam off her Cloud 19 EP—and “1st Position” isn’t just for show.
After putting her pipes on America’s Got Talent at 16, Kehlani re-emerged three years later, rounding up a faithful legion of Stans, affectionately called the “Tsunami Mob” with her street R&B. On the day she dropped the artwork for her upcoming You Should Be Here mixtape, Kehlani obliged to an impromptu round of Jenga to discuss music, fashion, dating and a slew of other random topics.
Here are 25 things we learned about our new BFF.—Iyana Robertson and Adelle Platon
1. She is heavily influenced by ‘90s R&B.
“When I started singing, I was covering Lauryn Hill, Brandy and all the girl groups of the ’90s. It’s just what I would listen to and what I was singing when anybody asked me to sing for them.”
2. Like us, Beyoncé is her biggest role model.
“My biggest role model right now is Beyoncé, just ’cause she is a very, very strong powerful woman, and that’s obviously the number one reason to be inspired by her. She is just killing every game there is to kill.”
3. She has a tattoo on her arm of her favorite artist: Lauryn Hill.
“I want to tell her she’s the reason I look down on my arm everyday just to remind myself to stay open, stay loving, stay warm, and stay strong as a woman, most importantly. I would just thank her for making what she made, and thank her for being who she is.”
4. She looks at her manager, Nick Cannon, like family.
“He’s a big kid. Part of him is 13 and part of him is in the ’80s—very wise, very protective, just very serious. Sometimes, he’s like my dad. When I have boy problems, he’s there to talk. When I have relationship issues, he’s also there; it’s not just business.”
5. She moved out on her own at 16-years-old.
“I was out of the house at 16 by my own doing. It forced me to really grow up and take care of myself, and I learned a lot of things that your parents usually teach you, on my own,” she said. “I’ve always been a very young person with a very old soul.”
Continue reading in the gallery above and watch the Jenga interview below.
Photo Credit: VIBE/ Stacy-Ann Ellis | Video Credit: Mikey Fresh and Jason Chandler