Fans defend Kehlani after ‘cringey’ and ‘invasive’ radio interview goes viral

A person with curly hair and tattoos making a peace sign and a kissing face
Kehlani arrives at a 2021 screening of “The Harder They Fall” in Los Angeles.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision/Associated Press)

Fans are rallying behind Kehlani on social media this week after a recent radio interview with the singer went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Last week, the “Up at Night” artist made an appearance on the “Morning Hustle” radio show to discuss her new album, “blue water road,” which came out April 29. Many, including Kehlani, have since criticized “Morning Hustle” co-hosts Headkrack and Lore’l for their “cringey” and “invasive” line of questioning.

“i have kept it calm, collected, mature in the face of blatant disrespect when i could’ve went off. i finished interviews strong while being poked and prodded at,” Kehlani wrote Monday on Instagram.


“if you know me you know i’m high bright energy until f— with! stretching this situation out for clout when it’s evident i was energetically RESPONDING to what was being thrown at me, and still ... was quiet, short & protective of my energy. y’all need this tho i get it. gotta let thirsty people who have to be thirsty for a living ... be thirsty... for their living ... god bless you ... & don’tplaywitme.”

In another Instagram story, Kehlani described the “Morning Hustle” experience as “cringey” and “invasive as f—.” They added that the encounter was an example of “why your favorite artists don’t want to speak anymore.”

“Every other recent interview has been super bubbly, warm, informative, and open,” they said. “I’m only speaking to [a] select few folks anymore who really care about me deeply and have always been in my corner.”

There’s an inherent warmth to Kehlani.

March 7, 2019

At the beginning of the interview — which amassed tens of thousands more views than the majority of the content on the “Morning Hustle” YouTube channel — Headkrack announced, “They are here. And they is she, and she is with us. She go by the name of Kehlani.” The radio host seemed to be referencing the “Nights Like This” hitmaker’s gender pronouns, which are she and they.

In the video, Kehlani can be seen crossing their arms, looking down and knitting their brow in response to the clunky introduction before quietly telling Headkrack they feel “tired.” She continued to keep her answers brief and reserved from there.

“The interview started ignorant and anyone to disagree is just as ignorant,” tweeted @callmedollar. “‘We have Kehlani with us’ would’ve sufficed!”


“He’s lucky they didn’t throw the mic at him,” tweeted @nanagabynka. “What was this clown behaviour.”

At one point in the conversation, Lore’l asked Kehlani if fellow musician SZA was her romantic “type” — to which Kehlani replied she doesn’t have a type, per se, but is attracted to people who are “beautiful inside and out.” Lore’l then joked that Kehlani wouldn’t be “scissoring with SZA.” Kehlani didn’t laugh.

“Y’all too comfortable sexuaIizing LGBT people unprovoked,” rapper Drebae tweeted. “The interview supposed to be about their album instead it’s awkward & invasive. Kehlani was ready to go.”

“That Kehlani interview sucked,” @dbrailzz tweeted. “It was distasteful and unprofessional and ppl interviewing artists need to learn how to do better. Absolutely terrible. ... I’ve never seen her like that. I personally would’ve cursed them out so I commend her professionalism.”

In response to the criticism from Kehlani and others, Lore’l deemed the Grammy nominee “rude” and “nasty,” while Headkrack called the interview “weird” and acknowledged that the way he “entered it maybe could have been off-putting.”

From Drake to 5 Seconds of Summer to Kehlani, videos shot in quarantine have become a go-to medium to renegotiate the social contract of pop stardom.

May 12, 2020

“We never did anything to her,” Lore’l said. “Tell her to pull the footage where we were being disrespectful. ... If there’s a question you do not want to answer, as a grown-up, you say, ‘I do not want to answer that,’ and you move on.”


“My intentions are pure,” Headkrack said. “I truly rock with not only Kehlani and her messages, but also her artistry and the way she puts it down, so if anything moved or ruffled any feathers, we gotta open up this dialogue because, listen, I lead with love, man.”

Monday on Instagram, Kehlani reflected on the release of their new album on their own terms. Other artists featured on the record include Blxst, Justin Bieber, Syd, Jessie Reyez, Thundercat and Ambré.

“i was nervous for all the shifts going into this album,” Kehlani wrote.

“BUT… this album did exactly what i wanted it to do. my best critical acclaim, compliments on my risk taking.. my growth ... my peace. i didn’t play by any of THE rules this time. ... bottom line and most importantly, i did everything MY way. wild, random, all over the place, and full of feeling.”

See more reactions to the “Morning Hustle” discourse below, including from The Times’ Suzy Exposito.