Kehlani’s ‘Do U Dirty’ Questions how Female Sexuality is Seen in Hip-Hop

Kehlani has been a powerful force in the game since her first mixtape Cloud 19 in 2014. Since then she’s been featured on tracks alongside artists like Chance the Rapper, Kyle and Little Simz. We’re finally getting a debut album from the 21-year-old R&B artist, SweetSexySavage to be released on Jan. 27.

Story | Zara Hurtado

Kehlani released a track off of the album earlier this month called “Do U Dirty”. The track is an anthem for women who, like Kehlani, know that they are a damn catch. With lines like “I ain’t no wifey/Ain’t gon’ hold you down/It’s way more fun to be the mistress,” “Do U Dirty” is unapologetic, it’s fierce and it’s a call for women to own their sexuality and stop apologizing.

Naturally, there were reviews up the day the song came out. Many of them were positive, applauding the singer for not apologizing for defining relationships her way while others wrote it off as just another “raunchy” or “saucy” song.

Here’s the thing though–why is anyone getting on Kehlani’s case for lines like “Yeah, I’m a fuck you like a vixen” while we sing along to songs with more “raunchy” lyrics like D.R.A.M.’s “Broccoli”?

Women can enjoy monogamous relationships but we can be players too. We can ask for sex with no strings attached. Being open about your sexuality and demanding what you want isn’t an exclusively male concept. With other female artists like Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande putting out songs celebrating their sexuality, there isn’t any reason that Kehlani should be facing criticism for a song as strong-willed and confident as “Do U Dirty.”

Kehlani - Do U Dirty

The best person to hear it from is Kehlani herself. Back in November Kehlani tweeted “As women we are told that we cannot be multi layered…we are put in boxes…we can’t be all the above…reclaim yourself.”

The lesson to be learned from Kehlani is that female sexuality is just as complex and worthy of celebrating as men’s. We can be sweet, sexy and savage at the same time. Before you want to write off Kehlani as “trashy” or “raunchy,” consider why you don’t do the same to rappers who dominate the radio like Big Sean, D.R.A.M. and Chris Brown.

You can decide for yourself by listening to the rest of SweetSexySavage which comes out on Jan. 27

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