Dark Light

Released: 2020

At the heart of Kehlani’s “Toxic”, there lies a tale of a corrosive romance, steeped in desire, alcohol, and a magnetic pull toward destructive patterns. This song operates as a mesmerizing confession of an intoxicating, yet detrimental love affair that Kehlani can’t seem to escape from despite the glaring red flags.

Beginning the dissecting journey with the opening line “Damn right, we take turns bein’ grown”, Kehlani insinuates the rotational power dynamic in the relationship. Here, being ‘grown’ serves as a euphemism for taking responsibility or control, while highlighting the relationship’s instability.

The refrain, “Don Julio made me a fool for you”, draws a clear connection between the influence of alcohol – Don Julio being a popular tequila brand – and her judgment being compromised when it comes to this volatile relationship. The repetition emphasizes how alcohol fuels her decision to reach out to her lover, as suggested by the line “And now I might hit your phone up with that ra-ra-ra”.

The chorus “All of this love is toxic / All these kisses and hugs is knock shit / You a damn drug, you’re toxic” conveys the dangerous allure of their relationship. The phrase ‘knock shit’ can be perceived as something overwhelming and powerful, bordering on life-altering. A love that’s “toxic” is both addictive and detrimental; it pulls Kehlani back in, even as it hurts her.

Lines like “Run it back like a DJ / Surfin’ on your face while you eat that / Tryna make a bad bitch behave, no” suggest a sexual dynamic that’s hard to resist, alongside a stubborn refusal to be tamed or controlled. Nevertheless, the regret and acknowledgement of the toxic relationship dynamics are palpable when Kehlani sings, “I was this way for you / Put the pussy away for you / Thinkin’ I would wait for you”.

The term “Problematic” in the bridge is a succinct encapsulation of Kehlani’s toxic lover. Following this, the line “Somehow, I’m always caught in your dramatics / All in your acrobatics” signifies the dynamic and dramatic nature of their relationship, with ‘acrobatics’ likely being a metaphor for emotional manipulation or tumultuous twists and turns within the relationship.

To wrap up, the lyrics of “Toxic” unravel the complex fabric of a toxic relationship punctuated by intense sexual chemistry, alcohol-blurred decisions, and an ever-toxic cycle of make-up and break-up. Kehlani masterfully translates these complicated emotions into an intoxicatingly raw and honest anthem about the dark side of an all-consuming love.

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