Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.
Much like R. City, Californian singer Kehlani proves that UK-specific promo is no longer necessary to create a strong fanbase here. Without releasing an official single or album, the 20-year-old R&B artist has sold out two shows at London venue Heaven. The internet has globalised young people’s media consumption, providing a direct route for youth-oriented acts like Kehlani, and other recent examples such as Pia Mia and Halsey, to reach a UK audience. However, national radio, TV and print media are still necessary to turn a hit into a phenomenon. Without their support, these stars struggle to become more than the latest internet fad. Kehlani has worked hard to build her reputation in the music scene. She was first seen as part of a group called Poplyfe, who reached the finals of America’s Got Talent 2011. Thanks to some help from host Nick Cannon, she began working on solo material after the show. Her 2014 mixtape Cloud 19 was critically acclaimed, and led to a deal with Atlantic and a popular 2015 follow-up, You Should Be Here. She has been compared to Jhené Aiko and Tinashe, and since neither of them has quite crossed over to mainstream stardom (though Tinashe is close), the race is still open for Kehlani to surge ahead. Her sweet vocals, edgy look, fun personality and dance background all combine to make her a very interesting pop star prospect.