Hip-Hop

Kehlani Talks Balancing Masculinity & Femininity for 'Playboy' Cover Story

Kehlani
Gizelle Hernandez

Kehlani photographed Oct. 18 at Hubble Studio in Los Angeles.
Styling by Scot Louie. Hair by Cesar Ramirez at Crowd Management. Makeup by Pircilla Pae at Hendrix Artists. Set Design by Daniel Luna. Kehlani wears a Tom Ford for Gucci dress, Giuseppe Zanotti shoes, Chanel bracelets, Lillian Shalom rings, KHIRY necklaces.

Kehlani played 20 questions for her latest Playboy cover, opening up about how her spiritual journey influenced her upcoming music and when she embraces her masculine and feminine sides.

The R&B superstar looked like both a prom king and queen on the digital cover, writing "i always wanted to date me" on her Instagram. The golden shot speaks to how the openly queer singer embraces masculinity and femininity, and she spoke to when she feels "very fluid in both of those settings" in the new interview.

"I feel more masculine when I am in my stillness and I’m grounded in a quiet, contemplative mode. I feel most feminine when I’m being the mother of my house. I also feel my femininity when I take time for self-care -- when I take really beautiful baths where I throw some flowers in and I do a hair mask and take time oiling my body in the mirror and saying how beautiful I feel," Kehlani said. "My femininity makes me feel soft and gentle and tender and careful in a different way than my masculinity makes me feel. I’m trying not to let it fall into the gender norms of feminine and masculine, but for me it does a tiny bit. But I also am very fluid in both of those settings."

The SweetSexySavage singer continued discussing when she feels sexiest and how motherhood didn't take that feeling away from her but even shaped her into "this insane sex symbol."

"I feel the sexiest when I’m really bare -- when I’m taking extra time to oil up after my bath and put essential oils into my shea butter. For me, sexy is very internal," she said. "It’s in the comfort and the feeling -- not when do I look most sexy, but when do I feel scrumptious?"

She continued: "Being a mom is the sexiest thing ever. I think something happened to me when I became a mom; I just became sexier. I was this quirky little person before -- not super in touch with myself, a super tomboy. Then I became a mom, and all of a sudden I got these mom hips. I got this mom sensuality and grown-woman attitude and in-touch-ness with my body that I never had before. You really f---ing get to know your body when you birth. When you get pregnant, you become a f---ing universe and a portal. So I think motherhood has made me this insane sex symbol even to myself."

Kehlani welcomed her first daughter Adeya Nomi on March 23, 2019, and released her first album since giving birth and third No. 1 R&B albumIt Was Good Until It Wasn't, on May 8, 2020. The 15-song set delved deep into her personal grief, ranging from relationships that ran their course and made multiple headlines to the death of close friends and up-and-coming rappers Chynna Rogers and Lexii Alijai, during a year where the world mourned those lost from COVID-19 and our normal lives. If It Was Good taught Kehlani how to "alchemize my sorrow," then whatever she's cooking up in the studio next taught the 25-year-old artist how to amplify her healing.

"I have taken this opportunity during quarantine to go extremely inward, cracking down on my spiritual journey and spiritual self and enforcing boundaries I never had. I have a therapist, finally, who I absolutely love, and I have a routine of getting up and praying. I’m in this consistent, deep connection inwardly that I don’t feel like I’ve ever had," Kehlani said. "The new music I’ve been making is just a reflection of a healthy self, healthy love for the self, healthy love with spirit, healthy love—healthy everything around me. [The music] sounds really refreshing. It feels really refreshing. It feels grown."