“A woman like a sun should always stay bright” is an infamous lyric of Oakland native Kehlani. The song it’s from, “Bright,” has changed my life in the most positive way.
The song stems from a sense of weakness, miraculously changed into strength. Kehlani has been an advocate of the importance of mental health since her debut mixtape, Cloud 19, in August 2014. “Deserve Better” and “As I Am,” reflect her appreciation for her own self-worth and strength.
This was just the beginning of the transformation into her own self-love. Her intake of old-school R&B and neo-soul helped tranform her into the artist she is today.
“Bright” begins with a slow string of keys, and as her voice eases in, you feel a lift of spirit. Kehlani starts off the song leaning into the story of a girl like most, who suffers from self-identity issues, then comforts her as a big sister, reassuring her that this is normal and that life is much bigger than that.
The song follows with consistent stories that reflect everyday problems that most artists won’t touch upon. The song churns with high octaves and a consistent instrumental backing, that makes you feel that life is going to be alright.
I can’t tell you the first time I heard the song, or why it fits into my life so perfectly, but it has made a huge impact.
I have struggled with self-confidence and mental illness my entire life, and I haven’t found much music that reflects that. Until Kehlani, there wasn’t music that I could fully connect to, especially on such a vulnerable level.
“How can someone love somebody that does not love themselves / You are who you choose to be / It’s not up to no one else / Don’t let them dim your light.” The lyrics are powerful and surreal — as if I am in the room being given this life lesson. Anyone who is going through a rough time or a stage of self-doubt could listen to this song and be completely reassured that their path is the right one.
Mental illness isn’t talked about within the music industry very much, especially the black community. Having a black artist in the R&B industry advocate for this epidemic through music just places so much emphasis on Kehlani as an artist.
Personally, the song broke through barriers I have had within my life, and I knew that it’s okay to ask for help and that appreciating myself is something that I have struggled with for years. “Bright” also utilizes the concept of self-love that I wasn’t introduced to before this song.
Self-love is a concept that is often perceived as vanity or selfishness. But I have discovered that there is nothing wrong with being selfish, in regards to making sure that you are taking care of yourself. Often, we get lost in life by taking care of others and trying to be everything for others, where we forget who we are in the first place.
There is something beautiful about this song because it highlights self-love as not being selfish but learning who you are as a person. I also appreciate this song because it advocates that everyone has their own personal challenges, whether it be money problems, self-confidence, or love issues, everyone is fighting something.
There is power in being completely vulnerable and never apologizing for who you are.
Kehlani has pushed a dialogue about mental illness forward. “Bright” has been a vital part of my life, including being the design on my graduation cap. Since the first time I heard this song, there was nothing I knew I couldn’t do. There was no challenge I couldn’t face or a hurdle whether personally, mentally, physically I couldn’t get over.
The song taught me to walk in my light, which is in the most positive way possible. It’s funny that music can make you think of a time where you weren’t happy and then all of sudden you play it and it brings you back to a state of happiness and acceptance.
Self-love and appreciation isn’t something learned overnight, nor will I ever fully master it, however, it is a fight that has to be consistently waged. Whether it means writing a journal entry every day, dancing in my room with earphones in, or just taking a second out of my day to tell myself how much I appreciate who I am and the woman I am becoming.
“Bright” has manifested my goal into learning self-love and finding the balance of being selfish and learning to shine my light.
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