The woozy, reverb-soaked track speaks to the transformative power of love, with the singer encouraging her partner to open up in the same way a butterfly sheds its cocoon. In the new video, she physically illustrates that concept by emerging from a chrysalis as a gorgeously pregnant butterfly in multi-colored body paint. As the video draws to a close, she performs the emotional spoken-word portion of the song, encouraging her lover, “I hope you take from this that it’ll make you no less of a man / To break your walls and simply grab my hand.”
In a poignant homage to the life cycle referenced in “Butterfly,” Kehlani went back to her roots to execute the video, enlisting the help of students and faculty from her alma mater, Oakland School for the Arts. As detailed in an Instagram post, her former dance teacher and production design teacher recruited students to contribute to the set design and create choreography for the vid, all over a span of just three days. The video was directed by 20-year-old newcomer Trey Lyons, and features 14-year-old dance twins Munir and Musa Omar, who are current students at the school.
“Thank you Oakland School for the Arts for cultivating such a beautiful community, and teaching me so much of what I use today in my career,” Kehlani wrote. “Directed by the youngest director I’ve ever worked with @treylyons, thank you for bringing my vision to life.”
“Butterfly” follows videos for the Dom Kennedy-featuring “Nunya” and the Ty Dolla $ign-assisted “Nights Like This.” All three tracks appear on Kehlani’s January mixtape, While We Wait, which she released as an appetizer to hold fans over until her next full-length project. Meanwhile, the Oakland singer is reaching the end of her pregnancy — she announced back in October that she’s expecting her first child, a baby girl, with her partner, Javie Young-White.