kehlani altar

Kehlani – Altar | Lyrics Meaning Explained

Kehlani ushers in a brand new era of music in her career with a brand new single and music video for “Altar.” The song talks about the undying human connection between two people, even one leaves our lives forever.

“Altar” is the first single from Kehlani’s third studio album ‘Blue Water Road.’ This is Kehlani’s follow-up project to her 2020 album ‘It Was Good Until It Wasn’t.’ The new album is expected to release in December 2021.

Announcing the new single, Kehlani spoke about the inspiration behind the song; “to all those i have lost, all the angels i have gained, all those that walk with me with hands cracking my chest open, this is for you. i love you! 🕯 #ALTAR 🕊 THANK YOU.”

“Altar” tells a story about a departed lover of Kehlani, who is a lesbian. Hence, in the music video, her departed partner is played by Diovanna LaBeija, a trans femme Afro-Latinx performance artist and a choreographer. The duo’s choreography in the video sets up a perfect moody love ensemble.

Watch “Altar” Music Video by Kehlani

Kehlani “Altar” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review

Verse 1

Kehlani sings about the altar at her home, one dressed in fresh white flowers and small candles lit all over it. White is a color of death and mourning, and lighting candles is a common practice to remember lost ones.

Kehlani hopes that this altar can bring her close to someone who has passed away.


In these lyrics, Kehlani dives further into her belief from the first verse.

If I set a flame and I call your name
I’ll fix you a plate, we can go to dinner

She believes that lighting the candles and calling her dead lover’s name will make them come back to her. Then she can make them some dinner and enjoy a ritual she enjoyed very much when they were still alive.


Kehlani sings to all the people whom she has lost along the way. The world is still in mourning with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic taking the lives of many people around us–fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, cousins, and friends. This song is a tribute to all those loved ones who have left us, but their energy still lives within us.

Verse 2

Kehlani realizes that memories can also be a curse and a blessing. When someone who has touched our lives passes on, their spirits live within us. These memories are both painful and sweet–perfect examples of bittersweet emotions.

The human mind is an amazing machine. Kehlani says that sometimes she can smell the perfume of her dead lover. Her mind can manifest what her heart desires. Mind > matter.

Keeping you alive and I do it ’cause I want to

When someone passes on, they live on in the memories of their loved ones. Their loved ones can keep them living on in their memories for however long they want to. Kehlani is not ready to let go of her lover yet. So, she opts to live with them in her memory.

Most of us hold our loved ones’ memories in our own altars!

Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.

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