Arts, Music, Review

Kehlani’s Two-Part Music Video Pays Homage to Oakland

Right before the close of January, Kehlani published a Spotify playlist, “All Me,” updated with the caption “All Me out now. the end of an era.” While the playlist contained quite literally all of her discography, the latter half of her caption left the Tsunami Mob high and dry—did it signal a break from her sound or music-making all together? 

With her release of a two-in-one music video on Thursday for “All Me” and a new single, “Change Your Life,” whatever Kehlani meant by her playlist caption remains a mystery. “All Me,” featuring Keyshia Cole, was released as a single in December. “Change Your Life” has yet to be officially released through online music platforms, though a snippet of the song with Kehlani in a studio was published on YouTube by an independent channel in September 2019.

The videos complement each other well. They don’t share a specific storyline, but the videos for both songs feature direct engagement with the camera. In the “All Me” half, the camera varies between mid-shot clips of Kehlani on a train with widely panned shots of the artist while she is mostly still, highlighting energetic dancers around her. Vocally, the focus is on Kehlani’s mellow singing, but visually and instrumentally, there is little rest, with quickly changing sets moving along with the uptempo beat.  As the video transitions to “Change Your Life,” the visual effects follow suit. The camera takes on a blue tint and a slight blur. The music slows to match the still shots of couples, families, friends and neighbors gazing stoically into the camera.

Where Kehlani first showcases Oakland’s BART trains, the latter half of the video highlights other parts of her hometown, from the beach to the suburbs, all at different times of the day and in no particular order. The transition between time and space is seamless in the “Change Your Life” part of the video, with frames of flashing light dividing major changes of setting. The videos are united by their homage to Oakland. The sultry “All Me” takes viewers on a nighttime ride, while “Change Your Life” shows everyday life in the city—and it’s clear that both videos wouldn’t be the same if they were set anywhere else.

Featured Image by Atlantic Records

February 17, 2020