Alicia Keys and Kehlani chat about motherhood, staying real in a fake world, and more in a new interview for Rolling Stone’s “Musicians on Musicians” package.

The R&B and hip-hop powerhouses talk about being creative beings in an entertainment world that’s “fake,” with Keys asking: “So how does a real person like you manage in a world that is based on illusion and things that are absolutely not real?”

Kehlani, Alicia Keys. Credit: Shutterstock
Kehlani, Alicia Keys. Credit: Shutterstock — Shutterstock

Kehlani says, “I don’t think I was always really good at it. From the outside looking in, people have complimented me in that way, like, ‘You’ve always seemed like you just knew exactly who you were.’ I think I was just really honest about where I was at with it. I might have been like, ‘Oh, I actually have no idea what I’m doing right now. I actually am trippin’ right now. I’m actually going through it right now.’

“So, I don’t know, navigating the music industry is definitely different. I’ve always had people — you’re one of them, and very few — who have reached out and been like, ‘Yo, I like the music, it’s cool. I like what you do. But I see who you are as an individual,’ and chose to latch onto me to offer me support. That’s been the best thing.”

Kehlani, Alicia Keys. Photographed by Kanya Iwana for Rolling Stone
Kehlani, Alicia Keys. Photographed by Kanya Iwana for Rolling Stone


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Kehlani adds of spirituality, “I think every single person on Earth has the ability to be mystically spiritual. It’s about maintaining a connection with the spirits that you have around you, and everybody has the capability to do it because we all have dead people. We all have ancestors. Everybody has somebody to take care of. It’s super-simple. But spirituality has always grounded me because it does remind you that there’s so much more than right here.

“It saved my life so many times. So now I’m just really disciplined with it and give as much energy to it as I can, and it takes care of me the same way.”

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The duo talk about motherhood, with Keys explaining how her life has changed since having children: “It’s definitely different. I remember for me, too, it was just like I found my power. I didn’t have the strength to tell people no by myself because I wasn’t important enough to myself, but that baby was important enough to me that I found my power.

“I know what you mean about being more considerate. I used to burn the studio down to the ground. I would be digging for the thing until I was on the floor. I couldn’t figure it out, and it would be seven in the morning and I’m finally going home. Now, I’m at a place where I’m just like, ‘OK, it’s not happening.’”

Kehlani, Alicia Keys. Photographed by Kanya Iwana for Rolling Stone
Kehlani, Alicia Keys. Photographed by Kanya Iwana for Rolling Stone

Riffing on songwriting, Kehlani says, “I make music about love. It’s the most universal thing. It’ll never go away. You’ll never get tired of it. People will experience it until the Earth explodes.

“So obviously my baby gave me patience and a backbone and all these things… So then I’m experiencing relationships, and I’m hella patient now and I have a backbone, and then the songs aren’t these like, ‘Pick me, I’m dying without you’ songs because it all goes back to how my kid made me. I think parenthood transforms emotion in general, and emotion is direct creation.”