Kehlani’s third mixtape opens with the sound of waves hitting the shore, a trope often meant to convey the passage of time. It works perfectly for a project titled While We Wait, a body of work fully written, produced, and released during the singer’s pregnancy. A snapshot of all the feelings and tribulations endured during this emotional period, Kehlani takes us on this journey set to the moodiest soundscapes of her career. With two years between this and her debut album, SweetSexySavage, there’s plenty for us to be caught up on.
Like many mixtapes, there are features abound in While We Wait’s nine tracks. While this often suggests that the content is weak, its clear after a few listens that Kehlani’s more than capable of carrying this record without the assistance (not that anyone would ever doubt her). “Footsteps” — the first of these collaborations — includes the iconic Musiq Soulchild, who glides over an introspective verse with his cocoa butter voice; present prodigy 6LACK appears on “RPG,” an ode to relationships where one partner is too comfortable in their position, to relay how the perpetrator may be feeling. Their contributions strike occasional gold, but not all features are created equal; though Ty Dolla $ign and DOM KENNEDY put forth admirable attempts on their respective tracks, they lack the emotional capacity required of them to be on par with the rest of the material.
Regardless of the quality of the features, the solo songs are where the project’s strength lies. “Too Deep” finds the soon-to-be mother blurring the lines between her partner and her side piece, while “Feels” sees her putting the pain of past relationships behind her to allow the growth of a new love; the singer strives to be an attentive and capable lover on closer “Love Language,” and asks for the same from her significant other on “Morning Glory.” The through line of it all is the more experimental textures the singer plays with on the record. With a baby just on the horizon, While We Wait presents the singer at the height of her artistry before motherhood; since most women release their best works post-pregnancy (i.e. Beyoncé, Madonna, Britney), I can only imagine where Kehlani goes from here.
Standout tracks: “Footsteps,” “Feels,” “Butterfly,” “Love Language”