Kiana Ledé is tapping into her inner strength, which follows a journey of embracing both the journey to genuine happiness and her womanhood. This evolution is reflected in the 26-year-old’s music and shows her growth beyond her R&B art. She uses her love for poetry to reveal her innermost thoughts that are set to an alluring blend of early classic R&B, soul, pop, hip-hop, and singer/songwriter.
“I'm letting things out in a way that I feel comfortable. I didn't for a long time, but I'm getting better at it,” the 26-year-old explains. “Learning how to speak our voice in the best way possible is something that we all have to go through. But for me, it was always music. Things that I couldn't say came out better when there was sound behind it.”
That vulnerability has led to the release of Grudges [via Republic Records], the sophomore album that shows the singer at her most confident. The title represents Ledé’s vibrantly multifaceted nature and self-assurance: she’s become more aware of what she deserves when it comes to relationships as well as her mental health.
"The energy of this album is based on my personality's dynamic and polarizing qualities. My beautiful way of viewing the world in a way most people would be scared of,” she says of the album. “How I make cursing sound like poetry. How I was performing in pageants one weekend and camping the next. If you were to sum Grudges up in a picture you would see a beautiful girl with barely any makeup riding a dirt bike, in a sleek red-carpet dress with dirt all over her and sneakers on."
Kicking off Grudges’ new era are the doo wop-tinged “Irresponsible” which beautifully showcases the singer’s vocal range, the naughty “Promise Me” that finds her explicitly toying with a former flame, and “Wherever You Go” with Ledé trading impassioned verses with guest star Khalid.
Other highlights include “Bitter Bitch (INTRO-lude)” which combines cheekily petty lyrics with catchy acoustic guitar strings, and the sensual “Deeper” standout. “This is the first time that I'm embracing my sexuality in a way that seems really positive,” Ledé says of “Deeper.” “It’s really me taking ownership and not being afraid to express the power I feel in owning my sexuality. Not because it gives people entertainment, but because it makes me feel good.”
Grudges arrives after Ledé’s 2020 full-length debut album, KIKI, and is a testament to how much personal growth can occur in a short time span. KIKI is a self-described “coming of age” tale, with the singer tapping into the sexy, honest, and soulful sides of the beloved R&B genre.
“With KIKI, I was learning myself for real,” she says of her debut, which included guest artists like Ari Lennox, Lucky Daye and 6lack. “I sat in front of my childhood home with just nothing but a wife-beater and some jeans because I wanted people to see where I came from and who I was becoming, but also paint their own picture of me through the album and feel what they wanted to feel.”
KIKI’s relatability led to notable success: it bowed in the Top 5 of various charts — the Billboard Top R&B Albums Chart, Apple Music R&B/Soul Albums Chart and iTunes R&B/Soul Albums Chart — as well as the Top 10 of the Apple Music Overall Albums Chart. The album has impressively gained over 1 billion streams in addition to receiving industry praise from ELLE, Billboard, Highsnobiety, VIBE and many more.
The growing accolades are the result of many years that Ledé dedicated to making her dreams as an artist come true, which was always inevitable. Growing up in South Phoenix, Arizona participating in pageants from age 4 to 14, the singer developed her love for music by listening to Ryan Leslie, Lil Wayne and Ne-Yo on car rides with her dad and showmanship and discipline from the support of her mother, who invested in her talent in any possible way she could.
At the core of Kiana Ledé’s music is honesty, which will continue to make her a standout artist. Just like millennial singers like Jhené Aiko and Rihanna who helped redefine R&B by injecting it with their unique and vulnerable flair, Ledé's goal is to define her own legacy by creating chart-topping hits filled with soul and heart.