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.

k-michelle-rebellious-soul

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.

K-Michelle-Rebellous-Soul

 

Antwane Folk is the editorial assistant at RatedRnB.com.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

K. Michelle Says Her Next Album is Coming in September

K. Michelle is consistent when it comes to dropping new music for her fans. With her latest album Kimberly: The People I Used to Know is still gaining streams, the Memphis native has announced plans to drop her fifth album this year.

While she shared radio updates on her single “Make This Song Cry” on Instagram (March 22), K also revealed when fans can expect her next album.

“‘Make This Song Cry’ still just chilling over there on the Urban AC charts didn’t know it was still there. Some good music for the win! New album THIS SEPTEMBER❤,” she shared.

K.Michelle’s upcoming album will serve as the follow-up to 2017’s Kimberly: The People I Used to Know, which spawned singles “Either Way” featuring Chris Brown and “Make This Song Cry.” The latter track is currently No. 16 on the urban adult contemporary radio chart. So far, the song has peaked at No. 14.

K. Michelle Shares ‘Crazy Like You’ Video

Don’t mess with K. Michelle or you’ll come up missing. The versatile artist reveals her plans for revenge to her therapist Annabelle in the video for “Crazy Like You.”

The eerie picture starts with K. Michelle and several look-a-likes strutting around an abandoned warehouse in a revealing black outfit. The camera flashes to more women, one holding a tank of gasoline, who seem to be ready to set fire to the rain. Going back to K, sporting a platinum blonde ponytail, an over-sized dress and plaid boots, she gets comfy on a vintage sofa to share her plot for vengeance to a red-headed doll.

“Crazy Like You” is lifted from K. Michelle’s latest album, Kimberly: The People I Used To Know.

See how K. Michelle and her bandits get even with their mate below.

Justine Skye, Let’s Talk ‘Ultraviolet’: A Career Conversation

I’ve been following Justine Skye for a while. Not as far back as her Tumblr days, but around the time her Tyga-assisted cut “Collide” began to pick up some steam.

Over the past three years since, Skye has produced a couple of solid records, had some impressive sponsorships and endorsements, and even landed a record deal with Roc Nation. Minor successes aside, there’s been a common note when I’ve mentioned her name in conversation: “She’s not memorable.” And that criticism is more than valid. As someone who has kept up with her work, I even have trouble remembering most of the tracks from her three EPs (although, admittedly, I’d rather not remember her 8 Ounces EP.) Skye’s musical issues ultimately boil down to two things: artistry and execution.

We all know that every successful recording artist isn’t original, or even necessarily talented. However, those type of artists know their market, work within the limits of their artistry, and execute accordingly. The reason why it’s been hard for this Brooklyn beauty to pop is because we, as consumers, don’t know what sport she’s playing nor the arena she’s playing in.

On the artistic side of things, Skye has always struggled to nail her “sound.” Her singing voice is quite generic — which isn’t a dig, nor a hindrance necessarily — but her lyrics are also somewhat lackluster, as well as her ad-libs. Nothing truly stands out, and because Skye’s artistry hasn’t developed, her music sways with the trends of the and sounds of the time. I expressed these concerns in a series of tweets back in 2016 — which ultimately got me blocked on my old Twitter account by Ms. Skye, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Justine Skye Tweet 3Let’s talk execution. Skye released “U Don’t Know” featuring Nigerian singer WizKid in September 2016, with the accompanying video released the following month. Then, a little over a month after the video release, she releases her 8 Ounces EP without “U Don’t Know.” Yet, in 2018, she included the mid-tempo track on her album, and this time without the WizKid feature.

Poor execution.

Sometimes the first single doesn’t work, so that’s okay. She tried again in July with “Back for More” featuring Jeremih. Despite the seven month stretch between singles, the song was an appropriate, summer jam. Unfortunately, even with the feature, the song didn’t get past a few adds at urban radio. The video was released in early August, and then it was silence again from Team Skye.

Poor execution.

Skye then releases third single “Don’t Think About It” on December 1. A week later, she announced the release of her debut album with another single — the PARTYNEXTDOOR-penned “Goodlove” and the video for “Don’t Think About It.” By the time the album dropped, she released another single (“Heaven”), which totaled a five tracks from a 10-track album.

Even with all of these musical misfires, I decided to give the album a listen. After listening to the 33-minute project, I was left generally underwhelmed. Although short albums aren’t common, they can definitely work with a strong thematic direction (see: Lalah Hathaway’s honestly. and Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic.)

Ultraviolet suffers from a combination of issues, but ultimately the music just fails to hit. I must say, though, that “Goodlove” and “You Got Me” have been on repeat, and guess who penned both of these tracks? PARTYNEXTDOOR. On a 10-track album, if the two standouts are written by the same person, I think that’s worth noting. Hit-Boy’s production on “Lil’ Boy” was also a bright spot for me on this otherwise mid-tempo album.

I don’t have anything against Justine Skye or her music, even. She’s given us jams like “Never Leave,” “I’m Yours” and “Messin’ w/You.” However, if she wants a serious shot at chart success, she’s going to need to find her artistic voice and learn how to properly execute when it comes to the visuals, singles, and the art of timing.

Ultraviolet has left me with more questions than answers, but the biggest question of all is still, “Who is Justine Skye?”

Follow Nathan on Twitter @TheGreatIsNate.

Send this to a friend