ALBUM REVIEW: K. Michelle – ‘Rebellious Soul’

Nearly five years has passed since we were introduced to the outspoken yet passionate singer K.Michelle. It was evident her musical style followed the pain of Mary J.Blige, while combined with the rawness of rapper Lil Kim. The Memphis native seemed to be well on her way as becoming the new voice for young women to seek wisdom and guidance.

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However, fighting for her spot in the industry came at high price. As singles like “Self Made,” “I Just Can’t Do This” and “How Many Times” under-performed on the Billboard charts, along with being dropped from her then label Jive Records, it appeared she had run out of gas in the sports car called the music game.

Despite her personal and professional struggles being highlighted in the media, she continued to stay fueled for her sole purpose – to deliver her truth through song.

Now with four successful mixtapes, an EP and two-seasons of  “Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta” under her belt, her hardships have not been in vain as she celebrates the release of her long-awaited debut album “Rebellious Soul.”

Michelle opens up the soulful 11-track diary with “My Life.” Over the last few months, the candid-tune has been sung at sold-out shows but now fans experience the track fully mastered. On the telling-track, she breaks down the naked truth while enlightening many of those who “don’t know nothin’ about it.” It also features street-life verse from Philly MC Meek Mill.

All my life I’ve been struggling and stressing – that’s why I come up in this bitch with aggression,” Michelle sings bluntly. 

Following the opening track, the “Million Hearts” singer sneaks in one of the three interludes hidden within the LP. The dramatic piano-driven interval finds Michelle unleashing her anguish toward her deceitful lover. “Why I let you do me/like doors wide open/ you ran right through me/but you done found the right one n-gga/f-ck you.”

Cruising through the the Eric Hudson-produced track “Damn” and the self-loathing ballad “I Don’t Like Me,” we land safely on track-four of the diary “Can’t Raise A Man.”

Lifted from her mixtape “Zero F-cks Given” an re-mastered “Can’t Raise A Man” hits close to home for Michelle as k-michelle-vsopshe has lived to tell her story. She educates ladies involved with men who won’t and can’t trade in their juvenile ways due to their lack of home training. It acts as a friendly reminder to parents, especially fathers,  to train their sons to respect and love woman. At the same time acting as a retrospect to women trying to mold a boy into the man she wants him to be.

Girl, you ain’t never gonna change nobody/ if he don’t wanna, you can’t make nobody/You can’t raise a man,” belts Michelle.

The album’s lead single “V.S.O.P” is indeed “very special.” Produced by Pop & Oak, the mid-tempo number takes the new and older generation back to a time when R&B felt good and was actually listenable. Adding her soulful touch to The Chi-Lites sampled track, Michelle belts all the ways to make her boo-thang feel more at ease. From lighting candles to even chillin’ his Hennessy she knows how to keep her man satisfied.

Unlike many female R&B artists, K.Michelle isn’t afraid to put her raw and salacious side on wax. On the raunchy track “Pay My Bills” her payments are due in the bedroom and it’s time to compensate her man with an all-night session of lovemaking. Michelle’s lyrical content echos the sexual innuendos harmonies of her mentor R-Kelly’s earlier work.

I’ma f-ck you like I’m tryna pay bills – Georgia Power, cable bill, babysitter tonight you will, “ sings the sex-driven songstress.

Michelle then sends her prayers to the Lord above on “Sometimes.” The hopeless romantic tries to stay optimistic on an old-fling returning but she quickly realizes its once in a blue moon that happens.

I should be praying for better things/instead of praying for a man/who don’t give a f-ck about me/Sometimes they do come back/and sometimes they don’t.”

Coochie-SymphonyShe brings the humor and the theatrics on “Coochie Symphony (Interlude),” revisiting her hot-pocket trouble from this season of “Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta.”

The R&B songstress chucks up the deuces on “Ride Out” after waiting too long for her man to get his act right. “So don’t get mad when I get in my sh-t and ride out — you gon’ be mad when another n-gga show up and show out,” echos Michelle.  Produced by Oakwud, the snooze-you-lose record is definitely a personal favorite from the LP and has the potential of becoming the next Urban hit for the singer/reality star.

The “How Many Times” singer gives the sideline-ho a pass on “Hate On Her” then readies herself to be a trophy wife “When I Get A Man.” She closes the diary with “A Mother’s Prayer,” a heartwarming lullaby dedicated to her son, Chase.

After several listens of the debut offering, there are a couple of high points which need to be addressed. First, out of all the producers on the LP, Eric Hudson’s production stood out the most. Not depreciating “Damn” or “When I Get A Man” but “Hate On Her” is an absolute winner. The song tapped into the harmonies and melodies of  two talented artist, R-Kelly and The-Dream but with K.Michelle’s honest vocals. Bravo, E. Hudson!

From the samples of Barry White ( “Ride Out”) to the 70’s funk band Black Heat (“Pay My Bills”) and the soulfulness and sincerity in every lyric she sung, K.Michelle truly captured the essence of what the genre of rhythm and blues means to the culture of African-Americans. In addition, she didn’t alter her personality or her sound to satisfy radio or her label, which is a true testament to her artistry.

While “Rebellious Soul” had its share of high points, it a few lows too.  With “Can’t Raise A Man” being a heard over a year ago on her last mixtape, it would have been much appreciated if she replaced it with a latter tune like “Pain Killa,” from “The Hold Over” EP or even “I Just Wanna F*ck.”  As far as “My Life,” the production could have evoked more of a darker mood along by axing Meek Mill’s verse.

Nevertheless, “Rebellious Soul” lived up to its name. Rebelling against judgement (“My Life”), low-self esteem (“I Don’t Like Me”) and being man-less (“When I Get A Man”), she finally shuts ups all the naysayers and delivers a solid debut.

3 Must Listens: “V.S.O.P,”  “A Mother’s Prayer,” and “Hate On Her”

Single Worthies:  “Ride Out,”  “My Life”  and “When I Get A Man”

Get your copy of K.Michelle’s debut album “Rebellious Soul,” in stores or iTunes now.

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7 Comments

  1. K Michelle came with it..like you said it some highs and low but it’s a solid debut!! “Sometimes” touches my soul!! B+

  2. Love it! Sooo proud of K. I loved the album. I bought four albums just because I want her to win. She deserves it. Love you K!

  3. YES! “Sometimes” is beautiful. K. Michelle is an amazing singer, combined with an amazing song like “Sometimes” you get fireworks. Real classic soul influences matched with a voice like hers, timeless song.

  4. “I would run down the street bare feet, if I could write my destiny”, lyric from “Sometimes” best track on the album “Rebellious Soul”. This song is timeless and proves how much talent K. Micelle has.

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Stream K. Michelle’s New Album ‘Kimberly: The People I Used to Know’

K. Michelle has released her fourth studio album, Kimberly: The People I Used to Know, on Atlantic Records. The 21-track project features guest appearances from R&B hitmakers Chris Brown and Jeremih.

The Memphis native shared a handful of songs leading up to the album’s release including “Make This Song Cry,” “Birthday,” “Either Way” and “Kim K.” On the latter track, some people assumed K. Michelle was throwing shots at Kim Kardashian. However, she explained the song is about cultural appropriation.

“I see some blogs trying to make My song ‘Kim K’ messy, lord if u only knew how fly I think she is,” K. Michelle tweeted. “People are me would tell u. The statement behind the song is black Women are rarely given credit for our cultural trends and flyness.”

She continued, “Truths can be spoken without a shade tree behind them. For ages Black women have been taught by society that our image isn’t good enough for mainstream or that we need to make changes. I believed them and made those SOME of those changes, only 2 regret it.”

On The People I Used to Know, Michelle takes listeners on a journey through her mind. “The album shows me and all my bipolar-ness so it really shows that and I hit on every single emotion of being a woman and being a growing woman,” she once told Billboard. “So it has, even for a man, a lot of things you can relate to you, a lot of life issues this time not just heartbreak but life in general.”

The People I Used to Know is the follow-up to K. Michelle’s 2016 album, More Issues Than Vogue, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

Stream Kimberly: The People I Used to Know below.

Listen to K. Michelle’s New Song ‘Kim K’

In just one week (Dec. 8), K. Michelle will drop her fourth album, Kimberly: The People I Used to Know. As fans await her new project, the Memphis native shares a new track interestingly titled “Kim K.”

The raw track finds K. Michelle venting about the hypocrisy she has to deal with people. “Wuzzup with all you black women? / I date a black man named Idris / You say ‘[I’m] ghetto, he trippin,’ / You’d rather him with white women,” she sings.

Later ponders what life would be if she was a Kardashian, since they have been accused if appropriating black culture for profit. “Wish I could be a Kardashian so I could be black / Put my face over Pac, wear my braids to the back / Throw a filter on that, ’cause ain’t shit real / And ain’t shit funny, so fuck how you feel,” she sings.

Kimberly: The People I Used to Know will also include her previously released songs “Make This Song Cry,” “Birthday” and “Either Way” featuring Chris Brown.

Listen to K. Michelle’s new track “Kim K” below.

Concert Review: Keyshia Cole Pulls a Lauryn Hill at The Fillmore Charlotte

As people waited in long lines to flood their favorite retailers for Black Friday sales, I traveled from Columbia, SC to Charlotte, NC to see Keyshia Cole at The Fillmore Charlotte.

I arrived to the AvidXchange Music Factory venue at 6:27 p.m. Unlike lines at retailers Friday, where the wait is unavoidable and uncomfortable, I was perfectly at ease being the 20th concert-goer in line.

Ten minutes later, more attendees followed behind to patiently wait for doors to open at 7 p.m.

Undressed and shivering in 37 degree weather, I struck up conversation about ticket cost with Keyshia Cole admirers. “We won our tickets off Streetz 103.3,” one couple said.

Another fan said, “I bought mine off Groupon for $39. I love you Keyshia but I wasn’t spending more than $50.” I agreed since I got my ticket at the same deal.

Doors opened three minutes after 7 p.m. After getting patted down and having my ticket scanned by The Fillmore door staff, I bypassed other fans and jetted to the front of the stage to wait for the show.

Some fans claimed their spot at the head of the stage barricade too. Other fans found empty floor space to stand comfortably before those at the bar filled in the gaps.

At 7:17 p.m., MMG’s DJ MC got settled with his laptop and other stereo equipment on the smoky stage. He came fully equipped to have the crowd lit with his mega mix and fly DJing skills.

As fog occupied the stage, nostalgia filled rest of the room. DJ MC had fans right where he wanted them – in a carefree zone. Music lovers used their outside voice to recite explicit lyrics and sing classic R&B and hip-hop songs including “I Get Money” by 50 Cent, UCB’s “Sexy Lady” and “Nice and Slow” by Usher.

The VIP clique didn’t let their lack of essential amenities (i.e. chairs or tables) get in the away of their party. The wall worked perfectly for grinding.

DJ MC had help getting the crowd excited from 92.7 The Block hosts Chewy Torres and Sunshine Anderson – yes, “Heard it All Before” Sunshine Anderson, too.

By 9:02 p.m., fans were chanting, “We want Keyshia.”

Ten minutes later, DJ MC was breaking down his equipment to make room for GO DJ HI C, Keyshia’s official DJ.

I don’t know if the crowd was aggravated and ready for Keyshia but the energy shifted downward when he got on stage.

It felt like we changed the radio dial to a new station but got the same syndicated countdown – just with a harder thumb. GO DJ HI C’s blaring speaker bass creeped into my torso as if I had just painfully swallowed it.

A few recycled songs in, GO DJ HI C announced at 9:24 p.m., “I just got a text. My boss is about to hit the stage.”

Eager to record Keyshia’s opening note, I pulled out my iPhone to capture every minute. With 69 percent battery life, I tapped on the Facebook icon to start a live stream.

With no background singers in sight or any Fillmore staff prepping the stage for Keyshia’s arrival, it was evident GO DJ HI C’s receipt had no validity.

“This is ridiculous,” mumbled a female patron behind me. “I hope she shows up because she bailed before.”

As the DJ played more music and strolled through his cellphone, another female fan offered commentary. “If I wanted to listen to music for two hours I would have went to a club.”

It was 9:40 p.m. and the crowd began to get restless. Four-letter words started to be heard in the now tight quarters — most were directed to GO DJ HI C.

He attempted to ease the last nerve of fans. “Ya’ll chill,” he roared in the mic. “I wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t coming out. She’s not coming out until she can hear you guys in her dressing room.”

GO DJ HI C also tried to hype the crowd for Keyshia’s entrance. “I need the left side to say ‘Keyshia’ and the right to say ‘Cole,’” as he pointed to each side of the room.

Some were interested in crowd participation but others weren’t. I was apart of the latter group.

The DJ returned to the mic at 9:43 p.m., and began an introduction for a Grammy nominated artist.

Cell phones brighten the dark venue momentarily but quickly dimmed when attendees realized it wasn’t the headliner gracing the stage — it was Sunshine Anderson.

Used to distract fans from Keyshia’s CP time, the singer-turned radio personality tipped on stage in open-toe heels, donning a simple black top with un-curve friendly black tights.

With support of a backtrack, the North Carolina native noticeably lipped the lyrics to “Lunch or Dinner” from her 2001 debut, Your Woman.

Sunshine bought Keyshia more time to hit the stage as she started to actually sing her signature song “Heard It All Before.” It was obvious she didn’t warm up her voice. Her vocal execution reflected especially towards the collapsed bridge.

Despite Sunshine not possessing vocal conviction, she had the heart to fight through it.

The unimpressed concert-goers softly clapped to see Sunshine off the stage.

Two minutes before 10 p.m. a gentleman rocking a pink backpack sashayed on stage. Before exiting, he left two styrofoam cups on a stage podium.

“When you see him, that means Keyshia’s on her way,” shouted GO DJ HI C across the room.

Exactly seven minutes after 10 p.m., GO DJ HI C took the mic again and finally grabbed the audience’s attention. “Ladies and gentlemen, Keyshia Cole.”

With help from her security, the woman of the last two hours, walked up the side steps of the stage.

Dressed in a suede trench coat with matching heeled boots and ripped jeans, the Just Like You songstress kicked off the delayed show singing “I Should Have Cheated” off her first album, The Way It Is.

Keyshia quickly asked the audio engineer to adjust her inner ear before capping the song with an extended high note.

Joined by her three male dancers, the Oakland-bred singer moved swiftly through her medley of hits including “Enough of No Love,” “Shoulda Let You Go,” “I Changed My Mind” and “You.”

After wrapping up her remix to Chris Brown’s “Loyal,” Keyshia took off her winter coat to show off her shimmering silk shirt. Without officially apologizing for her tardiness, she mentioned being thankful for her fans as a means for damage control.

It didn’t seem to work, and she knew it. “Okay. Let’s go into the next song then,” she told GO DJ HI C.

She belted her biggest hits “I Remember,” and “Love” before she engaged in personal conversation with the crowd.

From requesting the crowds opinion on if she should back to Love and Hip-Hop: Hollywood to explaining why she opted to skip Thanksgiving dinner with her newly found dad, Virgil Hunter, Keyshia sincerely asked for fans to send her a prayer up the main line.

Thirty minutes into her set, Keyshia wanted fans to tell her what to perform next. Most songs fans mentioned like “Vault” and “Emotional” from her 11: 11 Reset album were off limits.

“This isn’t the tour guys,” she replied with a smile. “The tour doesn’t start until next year. But I cannot wait to perform those songs though.”

While she didn’t perform demanded cuts from her new album, she gave us “Incapable” along with a similar dance routine from the single’s accompanying visual.

Following three more songs, Keyshia ended the 45-minute set with her Grammy nominated record, “Let It Go.”

Before leaving the stage, she directed fans to meet her at Stats Restaurant and Bar for the official after-party.

Honestly, I feel like I wasted a trip to Charlotte. I didn’t leave with a wow experience. I expected her to sing more material from her silently released album. Yet, my wish didn’t come to fruition.

Keyshia treated her Fillmore performance like an afterthought. It appeared to me that she got a calendar reminder while she caught Black Friday sales on Fashion Nova’s website. After realizing her spot date, she called her style team and caught a red-eye flight to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Keyshia’s lateness was inexcusable and warranted a more sincere apology. Instead she rushed through her sloppy set list to get to the after-party.

Her running behind schedule wouldn’t have been terribly bad if she had a legit special guest. And I’m sorry, Sunshine Anderson doesn’t count.

Collectively, the two hours of DJing, the talent show performance from Sunshine Anderson and Keyshia Cole’s tardiness calls for a total refund. But I’m sure Live Nation is incapable of issuing it to us.

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