Kehlani attends the 2018 CFDA Awards at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, NY, on June 4, 2018.

On Friday, R&B singer Kehlani released her newest mixtape “While We Wait” on all streaming services. This nine-song project is her first since her debut album “SweetSexySavage” dropped in 2017. “While We Wait” serves as a literal placeholder as fans await her next album to be released later this year.

The mixtape starts with “Footsteps,” featuring R&B singer Musiq Soulchild. This track brings longtime fans full circle as Kehlani praised Soulchild for his influential music five years prior on “Get Away,” the third song on her first mixtape, “Cloud 19.”  

Some songs on the project convey messages toward past relationships. “Nunya” features fellow Californian veteran rapper Dom Kennedy and is a vibrant kiss of death to an ex-lover who still checks in. Kehlani wants the ex to know that ties are severed and they have no business with each other any longer.

On the other hand, “Nights Like This,” which features popular R&B artist Ty Dolla $ign, has the singer reminiscing on an old relationship and contemplating reconnecting, evaluating the inevitability of the relationship failing again.

“Morning Glory” can be considered a bit of a self-love anthem from Kehlani. With a similar theme as older songs “Bright” and especially “As I Am,” the singer professes her love for herself in her natural state and discomfort in dressing up. The lyrics explain that a lover should accept her as is, beyond the glitz and glam, explaining that there is more to her than what meets the eye.

To me, “Butterfly” is the most soulful song on this mixtape. Compared with most of her songs, this one feels like a direct reflection of her soul and all the music that influenced her while growing up in the ’90s. It’s passionate and personal.

“Love Language,” which follows “Butterfly” and ends the mixtape, illustrates the excitement of learning more about a partner and quite literally learning the language they “speak” in order for the couple to communicate with each other.

The Oakland, California, singer is familiar with addressing personal matters through her lyrics, whether it be about love or loss. Each album, mixtape and single build upon each other, showcasing Kehlani tackling the same struggles at different stages of her life, while passing new milestones.

There is undoubtable growth in her songwriting and in her personality. She’s a long way from the teenager introduced to the world on “America’s Got Talent,” and she’s gained many deserved accolades. I can only see her growing more unapologetic from here. Her second studio album will be delivered this year, but it likely won’t be released until after the birth of her first child sometime within the next two months.

Rating: 4.5/5