Track Review: Kehlani, “Toxic”

Kehlani had a busy 2019 and 2020 is looking to be an even bigger year for her. Her While We Wait mixtape was one of the best projects of the past year featuring hits like “Nights Like This,” a duet with Ty Doll $ign. The R&B songstress had a hot streak of great singles like the confessional “You Know Wassup,” “Good Thing (with Zedd),” and “All Me,” a throwback bop in collaboration with Keyshia Cole. Kehlani also guest-starred on “Get Me,” a standout track from Justin Bieber‘s Changes. Now, for latest first solo song of 2020, following the scathing “Valentine’s Day (Shameful),” Kehlani focuses on a strained relationship with “Toxic.”

Yes, it’s a bit ironic that Kehlani put out a song with this title in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, but silly jokes aside, the song is truly great. Over a sparse production, courtesy of G. Ry and KBeaZy, Kehlani focuses on flexing her songwriting prowess. From her very first mixtape, it has been clear that Kehlani’s pen is up to par with her stage show and vocal abilities — damn great. Assisted by Ty Dolla $ign on background vocals, Kehlani sings about the testiness of her romance (“You know that dick always been problematic/Somehow, I’m always caught in your dramatics”) and how alcohol tends to complicate things (“Don Julio made me a fool for you”). “Toxic” is another slam dunk for Kehlani because it is yet another example of how effortlessly she can turn the most vicious lyrics into the sweetest melodies. Her vocals are smooth, as per usual, and the Ty Dolla $ign ad-libs are the perfect touch. Kehlani is one of the best songwriters of her generation, and this next album, whenever it arrives, will just be further proof.

Score: 77

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