Minnesota rap fans might want to skip to the last track of Kehlani’s latest album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t.
That’s not a slight against the other 14 songs the Oakland R&B star recently released. But while the album features several well-known guests—James Blake, Jhené Aiko, and Tory Lanez—its 1:44 coda is entrusted to a voice maybe less familiar, but one listeners should have had a chance to hear much more of. And it's a voice that rose out of the Twin Cities.
That would be Lexii Alijai, the up-and-coming St. Paul rapper who died this January after mixing fentanyl and alcohol. Just 21, Alijai had made a name for herself as one of the Twin Cities' most promising young MCs. (You can sample some of her best work here.)
"Jealous," Alijai's 2015 collaboration with Kehlani, wasn't just her highest profile recording. It was also the start of a close friendship between the two. Kehlani, who would headline a benefit memorial show for Alijai at First Ave after her death, had this to say about the Minnesota rapper after the release of It Was Good Until It Wasn't.
Lexii was working so hard because she wanted to take care of her family. the more we run this album up it contributes to those dreams so i know if she could say thank you, she would.— Kehlani (@Kehlani) May 13, 2020
the world hearing her loud and clear. that’s all i wanted. #ItWasGoodUntilItWasnt
Titled simply “Lexii’s Outro,” the track captures the intensity of Alijai's dynamic presence on the mic, powered by internal rhymes and shifting flows over little more than spare reverbed guitar. "Ain't got no time to make no accidents 'cause you gotta be passionate," she raps. "If you want something, you gotta go after it.”
Kehlani also tweeted that she “had to go thru a couple unreleased songs to pick this verse. i deconstructed the beat so i had to listen over and over... every listen got harder, the hardest part of the album to make. that shit hurts to hear. idk when that will change.”