Kiana Ledé: "KIKI" Review
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Today, many are quick to downplay and even sometimes degrade the genre that is R&B. With so many beautiful souls releasing pure art, I find those comments and remarks to be incredibly stupid and ignorant. The vibes are literally everywhere (and clearly, you're just not looking). If your listing of today's current contemporary R&B artists does not include the beauty that is Kiana Ledé, then... maybe you don't know music at all. Following the release of 3 EP's, Kiana Ledé finally released her shining debut album, "KIKI" on Friday (Apr. 3). Holding a run time of a little over 45 minutes, KIKI is loaded with self-affirming, anti-f*ck boy anthems and harmonious tunes that speak truths in regards to millennial love and relationships. Along the feministic journey, the 23 year-old, Arizona native peels back layers of her spirit, self-reflecting and highlighting her faults, insecurities, and past mistakes.
On the album's opener, "Cancelled.," Kiana starts the song with a sample of the speech from Tik Tok user, Jasmine Orlando. "I am a single queen, you know the f**king vibes / F**k men these days, f**k them all /They will hurt everyone's feelings and f**k them all," Orlando declares as Kiana affirms the recurring theme of "knowing the vibes" when dealing with these low-life guys. As the song's title proclaims, Kiana cancels all the toxic, lame, immature fools that have broken the hearts of her, her friends, and women all over. Kiana lets her silky voice float over the beat, affirming positivity and strength among all of the women who may have forgotten their value or who simply just need to be reminded from time to time.
Songs such as "Movin." and the nostalgic "Mad At Me." showcase a more... Hot Girl Kiana as she is unforgiving with her feelings when dealing with these clowns. She pulls a them on them and becomes the player. In "Movin.," she declares that while she continues to increase her money, she's not playing the damsel in distress. She will find the next guy without hesitation and keep it pushing. The album's lead single, "Mad At Me.," interpolates Outkast's iconic, "So Fresh, So Clean" track, producing a nostalgic yet refreshing charm. Here Kiana basically says, "Don't be mad because I'm doing me better than you and you're mad about it because of how you dirty you did me."
This ongoing theme of nostalgic-infused "Hot Girl Sh*t" is seen again on the utterly contagious "Labels." Sampling The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy," Kiana again creates a vibe within a vibe. Enlisting both Moneybagg Yo and BIA, she makes it clear to her lover, she's done with the labels. She sees what type of time it is with this relationship and she will not let her heart be played with yet again. However, before exiting stage left, she reminds them of the one who kept things "juicy" for them and assures her presence is irreplaceable.
While effortlessly carrying majority of the album (without even breaking a sweat), Kiana makes incredible use of her album's guest features to generate even more fiery, passionate melodies. On "Chocolate.," Kiana pairs with the smooth buttery chocolate goddess, Ari Lennox and the two create a sweet ode to love and the feeling of love. Kiana subtly flips the switch with tracks such as the slow-burning Lucky Daye-assisted "Forfeit;" the unapologetic "Second Chances.," featuring 6LACK; the cloudy, Arin Ray-assisted "Separation.,” and the relatable "Good Girl.," featuring Cole3trane. On each of these back-and-forth styled collaborations, Kiana bellows out her frustrations dealing with her thoughts, internal conflicts and external conflicts within her relationships. She longs for communication, reciprocated energy, and love.
Kiana brings forth her zealous, turbulent side on her solo tracks like "Crazy." and "Plenty More." The narrative stays the same, she can't seem to find the energy to leave but she is fed up with the bullsh*t, the games, and the lack of love. She shows she's not the one to be tried. On "Crazy.," she declares that her partner hasn't remotely seen crazy until he sees her form of crazy; on the spacey "Plenty More.," she's throwing personal items out the window and remodeling her partner's condo (and not in a good way...) while promising that there is indeed even more where that came from.
Vulnerability, a key theme in the album continues to flow throughout the project especially in songs such as "Honest.," "Feel a Way.," and "Attention." Sampling Brandy's 1998 record, "Have You Ever," Kiana goes back and forth with a partner who she truly wants to learn more of and get to know deeper than surface level. However, the connection lacks spark. On "Feel a Way.," she reflects on her partner's lack of communication, inconsistencies, and issues that evoke these feelings that make her want to lose her mind, and ultimately be left alone. "Attention." finds Kiana fearful of letting her feelings out on full display. Kiana doesn't want to bore her partner, so she keeps her guard up and finds ways to create conflict because that's the only way she's able to keep her lover's attention.
As we reach the end of the album, Kiana opens up even more. On "Protection.," like every woman, Kiana desires to be guarded and protected. It's almost like seeing a puppy and wanting to just hold them forever. Kiana sheds light on her insecurities and flaws, addressing how she can sometimes push away the very one who wants to be there for her in every way. On the final song, "No Takebacks." She asks her lover to take their time with her heart. Very peaceful and soothing, she reminisces over the words they have said to her as they are all she has left.
Overall, Kiana Ledé's album does exactly what it supposed to... It acts as a pure freedom of expression. KIKI does not strive to be some people pleasing album constructed for mainstream radio play. Instead, the album takes from her past experiences and relationships, and beautifully highlights the young woman she is developing into. From beginning to end, Kiana shines on her glossy debut album. Successfully stringing vintage appeal of past R&B to the modern feels of today, Kiana reveals both R&B is alive and well, and that she is a force to be reckoned with. I give KIKI an 8.5/10.
Top Songs from "KIKI":
1. Mad At Me.
Great job, Kiana. We can't wait for tour!
You can Stream Kiana Ledé's, KIKI on all streaming platforms now.