The Mishandling of Kelly Rowland’s ‘Talk A Good Game’ Album

Kelly Rowland Talk A Good Game

Kelly Rowland Talk A Good Game

I just got off the phone with a girlfriend of mine, who has been dealing with a love triangle between her boyfriend and her cousin. Long story short and not to spread her business, I insisted she listen to Kelly Rowland’s “Number One,” lifted from her recent album, “Talk A Good Game.”

Her response to me suggesting her the track was quite humorous. “Number One? That wasn’t on my “Here I Am” album,” she said. After chuckling, two thoughts came to mind.

One, “Do people not know Kelly had an album out this year?” and two, “Why have fans and even Ms.Rowland, herself forgotten about the new album?”

Her fourth studio album “Talk A Good Game” (originally titled “Year of the Woman”) served as the follow-up to her moderately successful 2011 release “Here I Am.”

Now before we can talk about “Talk A Good Game” and its absence from the hearts and minds of fans, we must touch a bit on “Here I Am” an album that marked Rowland’s first release since her departure from long-time manager Mathew Knowles and her label Columbia Records.


The “Simply Deep” artist had trouble finding her niche with the album after receiving very little airplay with “Rose Colored Glasses” and “Grown Woman” in the US.  However, in April 2011, Rowland showed the world her sexy side with a Rico Love penned track  called “Motivation.” While the song was catchy, it was by no means stellar. Nonetheless, it helped the “Like This” singer notch a top 20 hit  (No.17) on the Hot 100 and reach No.1 on the R&B chart.

Now play close attention  because I’m going to hit the high points on how things crumbled for the “Here I Am” era. First, Rowland rode the coat-tail of “Motivation” for literally six months.Then after she getting the back-end from promoting it, she finally moved to her next single “Lay It On” me with Big Sean, which underperformed on the charts. The song peaked No.43 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and didn’t see the light of day on the Hot 100.

After reaching some success overseas with her international single “Down for Whatever” the project was swept under the kitchen table of “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s” when she returned to UK’s X-Factor, where she later resigned in 2012.

In a nutshell, we wouldn’t be discussing “The Mishandling of Kelly Rowland’s “Talk A Good Game” album if Rowland had continued promoting “Here I Am.” But I digress.

Any who, Rowland returned in July 2012 with “Ice” the original first single to her fourth album. She recruited Lil’ Wayne once again but unlike “Motivation,” “Ice” melted on the charts, only peaking No. 24 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and No.88 on the Hot 100. The song also failed to appear on the finished album.

It seemed Rowland had a potentially great single on her hands when  “Number One” released in December 2012. However, instead of going with the confident track as her lead single for “Talk A Good Game,” the “Can’t Nobody” artist waited until January 2013 to announce “Kisses Down Low” as the official lead single to her fourth studio album. kelly-kisses-down-low

Produced by Mike WiLL Made It, the seductive yet direct tune was right up Rowland’s alley as she started gaining a reputation for being an R&B diva who sung sex driven records.  During the first week of February, “Kisses Down Low” entered the top 50 of Urban radio at No.49 with 236 total radio spins. A month later, the song entered Rhythmic radio at No.49 as well.

Before releasing her lead single’s music video in March, Rowland changed the title of her album. During an interview at the 2013 GRAMMYs, she felt the  previous title (“Year of the Woman”) didn’t fit her new-found lyrical vocabulary.

“I recorded 50 songs and condensed it down and it tells a different story,” she said. “It’s way more intimate and a lot of it is some slick stuff that I’m saying out of my mouth, some things I can’t even believe I’m saying.”

After the video premiered and the single ran its course, the song peaked No.9 on Billboard’s R&B Songs, No.25 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No.72 on the Hot 100.

To garner attention for her fourth studio album and to take the spotlight off the underperformance of “Kisses Down Low,” she announced Beyoncé and Michelle Williams would appear on her new album. “It’s not a Destiny’s Child track, it’s me featuring Beyoncé and Michelle,” said Rowland to Billboard.

Now as Rowland plotted her next move, in April 2013, the “Train on a Track” songstress was recruited by Fantasia for her second single “Without Me” lifted from her album “Side Effects of You.” Later that month, it was confirmed Rowland and The-Dream would hit the road for a joint tour ( “Lights Out”) to promote their forthcoming albums.

Before ending the month of April, Rowland revealed the release date for her “Talk A Good Game” album – an album she felt channeled the early sounds of New Edition, Pebbles and Babyface. “[It] feels like everything I wanted to make as far as music and R&B,” said Rowland. “I wanted to make sure my roots were really pronounced on this album.”

In early May, Rowland unveiled a laundromat inspired video-teaser for her second single “Dirty Laundry.” The emotional song written and produced by The-Dream showcased a more vulnerable artist as she opened up about a stormy relationship with an ex-boyfriend. It also simplified her feelings toward Beyoncé after Destiny’s Child was put to an end. Kelly-Rowland-Second-Single

“Dirty Laundry” entered Urban radio later that month (No.49) and peaked No.14 on July 5. While the song caught the attention of many, it wasn’t enough to help it chart well. The song became a top 20 hit on Billboard’s R&B Songs (No.14), No.47 on Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and didn’t register on the Hot 100.

Along with the release of “Dirty Laundry” in May, Rowland dropped her collaboration with Beyoncé and Michelle Williams (“You Changed”) and was announced as the new judge of X-Factor’s U.S. edition.

*Side-note* [The announcement as judge on X-Factor will be the cause of a chain events].

Even though she became the new judge on X-Factor, she didn’t push back her album date from June 18. “Talk A Good Game” arrived as expected and debuted at No.4 on the Billboard 200, selling  67,886 in its first week sales. It became her lowest opening sales to date.

After five weeks on the Billboard 200, Rowland’s fourth studio effort had fallen from 4-11-19-23-45. During this time Rowland announced on her website, the next single would be “Gone” ft. Wiz Khalifa – which was unsuccessful in making an impact on radio or album sales. By the album’s eighth week on the Billboard 200, it stood at No.82. According to Chart News, as of December 7, “Talk A Good Game” has sold 176,000 copies since June 18.

Following my synopsis of  “Talk A Good Game” era –  I can now share my three reasons on why this album has been forgotten due to poor marketing and strategic planning.

Causes to the mishandling of  Kelly Rowland’s “Talk A Good Game” Album 

– The second single choice – “Dirty Laundry”
– New gig as X-Factor judge
– Lack of devotion to an album

Let’s address the single choice of “Dirty Laundry.” For starters, The Dream-penned single screamed album filler from day one of  its release. While it was touching to see Rowland express herself in a way we haven’t seen her before, it would have been appreciated to hear it once fans purchased the album – not blasting on the local station on a daily basis. She didn’t even perform the single on any daytime or late night television but performed tracks like “This Is Love,” Street Life and “Gone” though – all not singles at the time.

A suitable follow-up single to “Kisses Down Low” could have been “Gone” featuring Wiz Khalifa. Sampling Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” the Harmony Samuels produced track found the Destiny’s Child diva going with her gut and leaving her trifling man for good. The song had the urban appeal along with another crossover factor (Wiz Khalifa) to become a successful second single.  Then the remix performance of the track at this year’s  Black Girls Rock with Sevyn Streeter and Eve would not have been so – random. It would have been welcomed as it would have received spins on radio to help the original song chart higher.

Next, the announcement as a new judge on X-Factor. There’s nothing wrong with musical artists moonlighting but when you’re planning to release an album and have prior obligations set i.e. joint tours, it’s ok to turn down offers. However, Rowland wasn’t willing to turn down her X-Factor coins to fully promote her fourth studio effort.

With taking on the new role as X-Factor judge, it came with a high price. It caused many problems not only for herself but The-Dream. She agreed to co-headline a tour with the singer/songwriter but had it cancelled and rescheduled in a matter of days after the announcement to accommodate her. It went from a 22-city trek to dropping like the price of reduced milk to 5-cities.

While The-Dream may have supported his tourmate and her decision, this caused him not to fully promote his “IV Play” album as he planned.  Although, Rowland planned to return with a “bigger and better show” for her “RowlandStones” she has failed to deliver.

In September 2013, the third season of X-Factor premiered on FOX. Throughout the 22 episodes of the singing competition, Rowland hasn’t used one opportunity to grab the microphone and perform any songs from “Talk A Good Game.”  But that’s where the last and final reason for the demise of the album comes into place.

Rowland has no devotion to a studio album. According to RIAA,  her 2002 debut “Simply Deep” is her ONLY album to received album certification which was gold (selling over 500,000 copies). Her 2011 release “Here I Am” had the future to at least reach gold, however, she failed to capitalize on success of “Motivation” in a timely fashion.

The “Dilemma” artist has seemed to be shell shocked after the immediate success of  the latter tune to where she puts more time into chasing the hottest producer and trying to guarantee herself a hit. While there isn’t any wrong with following the latest trend to stay in heavy rotation on radio – there’s so much valuable time wasted with an album – by your label, your manager, musicians and producers and songwriters, among others.

These musicians and producers could have given these instrumentals to another artist who was eager to put it on their album and make the song a hit. Same for songwriters, their clever hooks and melodic lyrics shouldn’t be left on the back burner of your mistakes because you fail stay committed to a project.

Instead of creating an album – go with an EP or start releasing singles every now and then. Just stop getting your fans and yourself hyped for a moment in time to only let them and yourself down in the long run.

Hopefully Rowland will act like “Talk A Good Game” didn’t happen and take her time with her fifth album which may not be far away as she recently revealed she has a new project in the works.

Follow Antwane on Twitter @9thWonderOfPR .

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  1. precisely. she’s lazy. tagg was much better than the album before that. hell, it’s one of the better r&b albums released all year. but kelly doesn’t put in the work to ensure she sells above 200k. yes, r&b is not the commercial force it once was, but that shouldn’t deter an artist from promoting. her future is very bleak, but all the best to her.

    1. Everyone has been saying that Kelly’s future is very bleak from back in 2002 and called her lazy..yet she is still around in 2013..very relevant and about to create a 5th studio album…all of you so called Fortune tellers can have a seat..Not every artist is even allowed to have the luxury that she has…while this article is a great insight on one knows the facts…. and FYI to the writer of this more research on Kelly Rowland’s achievements before you criticize her criticize all you wish..but Kelendria will always be around

      1. Well this article wasn’t about her achievements. It was to point out the reasons why yet another one of her albums underperformed. So thanks for reading the facts.

    2. She’s far from lazy, She’s just prioritizing her time to focus on the most profitable career moves. She stays working. That’s why she’s been a judge on both the US and UKs X factor for several seasons now. She’s probably making more money doing those gigs and releasing random singles than putting out full length albums.

  2. I don’t know why she keeps going in the studio, if she’s not going to promote and perform the music everywhere she can. Just save your money, raise your family, and get your coins in other avenues. I love you girl, but this is disappointing.

  3. You don’t make money from music anymore.With the way recording contracts are written, even if an artist goes platinum they could still end up owing the record label after all the costs of promotion and recording are deducted. Even the biggest music stars like Rihanna and A Beyonce are making more dough from touring, endorsements, and other ventures than the sale of their actual music. Those ‘coins’ (probably a few MILLION a season ) that Kelly gets from judging all those X Factor Shows are probably more than she would’ve gotten from the proceeds of all her solo albums combined.

  4. This article was a very accurate description of Kelly Rowland. I think Kelly’s biggest issue is that she had yet to discover her own voice in music. Every album is a mesh of other artists, and has to be “played for Beyonce”. Kelly doesn’t trust her own ear and is very unsure of a musical direction, which is why her music is all over the place (that last album was full of fillers).
    She should go somewhere and learn how to self reflect, write songs and play music. I think she has a testimony and really needs to focus on one task at a time. Until then, she should stop wasting people’s time and money recording in studios.

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4 Reasons We Love Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston Birthday

There will never be another singer like Whitney Houston; she’s incomparable, she’s an icon, and she is the standard. On the sixth anniversary of her unfortunate passing, here at Rated R&B we’ve created a shortlist of reasons why we love the vocal legend herself. Check it out below:

Her Powerful Voice

How do you describe the indescribable? Whitney’s voice is the purest to have ever graced human ear. On top of her outstanding natural ability, her technique, precision, and control make her “The Voice.” Just like rapper Biggie Smalls has never had a bad verse, Whitney has never hit a bad note. There is a multitude of examples, but at Super Bowl XXV in 1991, she gave what is regarded as the best rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to have ever been done. It is here, without all of the vocal thrills and frills, that you can truly grasp how marvelous her voice was.

The Way Other Artists Loved and Respected Her

If you ask any female singer that came out in the last 25 years who some of their inspirations are, you can bet Whitney’s name will come out of their mouth. For most singers, especially black women, Whitney was a role model. She was a black girl from New Jersey whose passion was sharing her musical gift to the world and having fun while doing so. In the first clip below, Monica explains Whitney’s personal impact on her life (this part of the interview begins around 1:42.) Even after her death, Whitney continues to inspire and empower the women that have come after her in the music industry. In the second clip below, you can find one of the greatest tributes ever performed, courtesy of gospel powerhouse Yolanda Adams, who ends the video with a resounding “We love you, Nip.”

Her Stage Presence

Whitney’s personality was both charming and endearing, as we’ve all seen in her interviews, famous and infamous alike. That natural charm carries over into her live performances, as she literally comes alive in song. In interviews, she was always well-spoken, clear, and concise. When it comes time to sing, she let her hair down and had a great time with her audience — no matter the occasion. In the clip below, Whitney performs a 16-minute set of her greatest hits at the “Arista Records 25th Anniversary Celebration,” full of life, laughter, and love.

Her Artistic Versatility

Whitney is one of the best-selling female artists of all time, and one of the biggest icons the world will ever see. What often gets left out of her lengthy list of accomplishments is her artistic risks and versatility. Speaking on her discography alone, she has recorded music that spans all of its genres. Whether she delivers a pop cut like “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” the Raphael Saddiq and Q-Tip-produced jam “Fine,” a universal duet with Enrique Iglesias (“Could I Have This Kiss Forever”), or a powerhouse ballad like “The Greatest Love of All,” Whitney was the jack of all trades. Not only did she master it, she believed in her ability, and she succeeded beyond measure.That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as her artistry made its way into film beginning with 1992’s box office smash hit The Bodyguard.

Below is one of her scenes from the cult classic Waiting to Exhale. Pay attention to her body language, the way she emotes in her voiceover, all the way down to the flickers of disapproval in her eyes. Whitney was, and will always be a class act.

What is your favorite Whitney moment? Share with us in the comment section below!

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10 Underrated Songs by Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton Underrated Songs

“I used to dream of living lavish, now your girl’s a living legend,” Toni Braxton sings on her newest offering “Heart Away.” She’s absolutely right: she is a living legend. With three multi-platinum albums, six top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, and over 67 million records sold, Braxton is basking in the glory of her success.

As she gears up for her eighth studio album Sex & Cigarettes, let’s countdown some of her most slept-on records in a new monthly series we like to call UnderRated. (Sidenote: to be considered an “underrated” record, the song couldn’t have I have been a single at any point in time.)

Check out the list below:

“Gimme Some” (feat. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes) from the album The Heat (2000)

Credits: Jazze Pha, Toni Braxton, Babyface, Lisa Lopes (Writers); Babyface and Jazze Pha (Producers)

Oh, Toni, why wasn’t this danceable number a single? Even though Babyface and Jazze Pha seem like an unlikely musical pair, they went to work on the lyrical content and production of this banger, which has Braxton taking charge when it comes to her love interest.

“It is an age-old story / Goes back back to Adam and to Eve / I know you know what I want for / And if it ain’t clear to ya baby / Don’t stop, let’s Rock, give it to me baby,” she sings. Left-Eye had a stellar verse too.

“What’s Good” from the album Libra (2005)

Credits: Bryan-Michael Cox, Johnta Austin, Toni Braxton, Joe Sample (Writers); Bryan-Michael Cox and Keri Lewis (Producers)

“What’s Good” appears as the third track off of Libra, and following the hip-hop edged songs “Please” and “Trippin’,” it’s a perfect musical shift in the gear of the album. Led by a genius sample of Joe Sample’s “In All My Wildest Dreams,” Braxton sings & coos confidently inc her signature contralto tone about the great things her new man does for her.

“It’s like a house I never left / Like a fever I wanna catch / Like a mountain that’s worth the climb / Talkin’ ’bout this man of mine / Like my money I wanna spend / My homie-lover-friend / He’ll be with me till the end / And he’s never failed me yet,” she sings.

“Caught (Don’t Take Your Hat Off) [feat. Mo’Nique]” from Pulse (2010)

Credits: Mikkel Stoleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, LaShawn Daniels (Writers); Stargate (Producer)

Songs that appear on an album’s deluxe edition have a way of adding value to the original album; that’s exactly what this Stargate-produced jam off the Pulse deluxe album does. Braxton kicks her lover out of her house after being cheated on.

“Baby I been more than good to you / When you leaving gimme my key back too / It’s about to go down /Your, your other new lady/ You’re out there with your pants down,” she sings. The light, somber piano is almost addicting, and Mo’Nique’s monologue is the perfect touch.

“Talking In His Sleep” from the album Secrets (1996)

Credits: Toni Braxton (Writer); Keith Crouch (Producer)

Following “Un-Break My Heart” on the Secrets track listing is no easy feat, but bluesy tune “Talking in His Sleep” holds its own. Braxton’s speaking voice has a chilling effect as she touches on infidelity and adultery. “Guilty secrets/ They are haunting my life / And he doesn’t even know that I know/ Can you hear him / The promises he makes/ Said we’ll be together for always / He’s such a liar / Then he goes out to burn me.” The Mary J. Blige-esque jazzy bass line is killer!

“You’ve Been Wrong” from the album The Heat (2000)

Credits: Toni Braxton, Brian Casey, Brandon Casey, Teddy Bishop, Kevin Hicks, Thom Bell, Linda Creed (Writers); Teddy Bishop and Kevin Hicks (Producers)

If The Heat was a family, “Just Be a Man About It” would be the older sibling to this guitar-led track, which hears Braxton finally finding the strength to leave a no-good lover. “Finally I’ve realized/ Your lies have opened up my eyes/ This love affair, now it’s over, over/You’ve been wrong for so long/ And I can’t take the pain you bring me no more/ You’ve been wrong for so long/ And I can’t take the pain you bring me no more,” she sings. Oh, and the Stylistics’ “Stop Look Listen To Your Heart” interpolation? Genius.

“Lies, Lies, Lies” from the album More Than a Woman (2002)

Credits: Keri Lewis and Stokley (Writers); Keri Lewis (Producer)

Ms. Braxton is fed up on this rock n’ roll (yes, rock!) cut. “Don’t bother to apologize / It’s too late, heard it all before / And it should come as no surprise / I’m leavin’, I packed my things / ’Cuz I’m through with this merry-go-round / I’m getting off, I finally found / My strength way deep down / I shoulda left your ass after the first round,” she sings. This is one of the best songs Braxton has ever recorded. EVER (in my opinion).

The raw emotion, the pacing of the song, the commitment to the vocal — Toni was in her bag! Stokley didn’t play a single game with the lyrics, guitar solo, or the backing vocals. Shout out to Chris Dave, who played the drums on this song. And trust, this song is nothing without the drums!

“Shadowless” from the album Libra (2005)

Credits: Alex Cantrell and Philip White (Writers); Keri Lewis (Producer)

Some of Toni’s best songs have a nice guitar somewhere hidden in the instrumentation, but the acoustic guitar takes center stage on this song about regret and love lost. “Gotta make it right with you / Ooh you baby / So tell me what I gotta do / Ooh to make u come back home / Ooh boy how can this be / I remember that every step / U were here with me/ Now I’m shadowless,” she sings. There is just something so magical about the Living Legend’s smoky vocals over the spirited strums of the guitar. Although this would’ve been a nice finale track for this album, penultimate isn’t so bad either.
(If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the AOL Sessions version of this song.)

“The Heat” from the album The Heat (2000)

Credits: Keri Lewis and Toni Braxton (Writers and Producers)

Braxton channels the summer vibes and brings the heat on this sexy title track. “Summer’s almost over so you better hurry / Andale! Andale! / Starting right now let’s dance and party / Ole! Ole! Ole! / Give Me a reason to love you through, through the season / No need to hesitate, come on let’s get it on,” she sings. This song is easy and breezy; sultry and sensual; sex — well, y’all get the point. And to answer your question, Toni, yes, I do want some ice cream.

“Why Should I Care” from the album Secrets (1996)

Credit: Babyface (Writer and Producer)

Braxton is fed up and denying her ex lover a second chance on this ‘90s tune. “And every time I start to slip / I just remind myself / I need only thing of it / I went through so much hell / You say ya wanna get things back / The way they used to be / Can you give one good reason / Why I should darlin’/ Why should I care / Why should I care for you,” she sings. Babyface and Toni Braxton are always a magical pair, but you have to get into these background vocals from the one and only Chanté Moore!

“Do You Remember When” from the album More Than a Woman (2002)

Credits: Toni Braxton, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins, LaShawn Daniels III (Writers); Rodney Jerkins (Producer)

This More Than a Woman cut finds Toni Braxton thinking back on the better moments of her time with an ex lover. “Do it like you did back then / And then we’ll do it again / Do you remember when? / Reminiscing and more on what we had before / Makes me feel so warm inside / Wanting you constantly and feeling so sorry / That we had to say goodbye,” she sings. Although this song feels like a The Neptunes-Kelis combo, Rodney Jerkins’ groovy production and Toni’s tender vocals fit seamlessly on this track, making it one of the standouts on this album.

Honorable Mentions

“Selfish” from More Than a Woman: Upon first listen, you’ll notice how intricate the background vocals are. So, it’s no surprise that this song credits Brandy as a writer and her ex-boyfriend Robert Smith as the producer of this breezy tune.

“If I Have to Wait” from Pulse: It’s unfortunate that Country radio and the Country music industry is so exclusive, because this had the potential to be a nice crossover hit.

“Sposed to Be” from Libra: Blackground Records was not feeling the original album that Toni Braxton and then-husband Keri Lewis turned in, so they set her up with additional recording sessions. That decision led to the creation of this sensual cut, which is spearheaded by The Underdogs and even features a writing credit for Keri Hilson.

What are your favorite songs from this list? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Ready, Set, Release: 10 R&B Albums We’re Anticipating This Year

Will 2018 be the year our favorite established and budding artist use their new opportunities to take the music industry by storm?

This dream could turn into a reality for many artists. For starters, an artist could go on tour for thousands to perform their biggest hits, or sing for hundreds to reconnect with them on an intimate level.

Then again, an artist could align themselves with lucrative brands to influence consumers to believe in their products while gaining exposure from a new audience for themselves.

But the simplest approach to keep your names in the headlines is to release new music. An artist whose album release is more anticipated than a Lebron Ring finds this selling tactic the easiest.

With the help of our faithful readers, we’ve compiled a list of 10 artists who we hope drop an album this year.


Jacquees has been bubbling for more than seven years and still has not released a debut album. The Rich Gang crooner has kept us occupied with consistent material while gassing us about his debut album, 4275, which was expected to drop in 2017. Is Jacquees debut album caught up in the rapture of Cash Money’s financial scrambles? Is Jacquees still recording and perfecting his first album? No one can accurately give a reason to his album delay, but we do know he’s joining forces with Chris Brown for a mixtape, promising to “fuck this R&B shit up.”

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