Under the art direction of Erin Hover and the lens of famed photographer Micaiah Carter, GRAMMY-nominated songstress Kehlani took to the pages of ‘Bustle’ to strike a slew of sultry poses.
Rocking Bulgari, Chanel, Gucci, and other designer duds, the eye-catching threads only accented the equally attention-garnering quotes that line the photo shoot’s accompanying feature article.
Never one to bite her tongue on social issues, the 25-year-old – who recently made headlines for celebrating sex workers with her latest music video ‘Can I?’ (click here to watch) – went in on topics related to Black Lives Matter, the mistreatment of Black Queer and Transpeople, and so much more.
Still hot on the promo trail of her latest R&B chart-topping album, ‘It Was Good Until It Wasn’t,’ look inside to see what she said:
On deaths of friends Lexii Alijai, Chynna Rogers, and Ryan Bowers:
“I just lost my third friend this year and it’s only been half the year,” Kehlani says, putting the delicate topic out there in her open book way. “So, that’s been strange, just processing that, but also just trying not to feel guilty, has been the hardest thing.”
“I’ve had to almost develop this relationship with death that I kind of always had… of really being conscious about what I do while I’m here.”
On her social activism in the wake of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor’s deaths:
“When I do feel it, which I do, acknowledging that I have a way to assist others is the biggest balance for me,” she says. “There’s literally nothing that feels better than being of some type of service. So when I hit the point of ‘I’m feeling all of this’ I find it helpful to acknowledge that I can do shit about it in other ways.”
“I just dropped off some bath salt and CBD to a bunch of the homies the other day who were out protesting and got arrested, and their bodies were all sore,” she says. “So even being able to know that I can’t show up for this protest because there’s a lot of exposure to people and I don’t want to bring a virus home to my baby, but what I can do is go take care of the people who’ve been protesting, is helpful.”
On how some supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement exhibit homophobia and transphobia:
“There has to be some type of real step of accountability from inside the community,” she says. “If we’re really asking for [police and prison] abolition, we’re asking for the eradication of the people that are supposed to protect us, which means … we’re going to have to have our own systems developed within our community. That has to start now. That protection, that sharing, that let me reach out, let me help with this. How can I be a service? That has to start now. And that has to come with some sense of protecting our most vulnerable, protecting our children and our women and our trans women and our queer Black people.”
“How do you, in the same breath, say, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ then get in the fucking Shade Room and your first instinct is like, ‘Fuck Dwyane Wade’s kid?’”
On how she was “not in love” with her first album, but in love with her latest:
“I was ready. I was so geeked up to have gotten to this finish line of making this album that I was so proud of and had made so many plans for.” It had taken years that included battling depression and recovering from giving birth to her daughter. “I had done the [mental] work to be like, “OK, I’m ready to be outside.”
“I finally got to force myself into learning all these skills that I always wanted to learn,” Kehlani says. “I’d co-directed all my videos but the ‘Toxic’ video was my first time ever doing anything on my own like that.”
Watch the behind the scenes action from the shoot below.