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

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 the track list for her 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 latest release and its absence from the hearts and minds of fans, we must touch a bit on her third studio album. The project 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 Rowland 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 chart-topping single “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 Billboard 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,” her wet single “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, Rowland waited until January 2013 to announce “Kisses Down Low” as the official lead single to her upcoming release.

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 Talk A Good Game album and to take the spotlight off the lukewarm performance 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 R&B siren 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 Lights Out tour to support their forthcoming albums.

Before ending the month of April, Rowland revealed the release date for her forthcoming project, which 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.

“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, which caused a chain of unfortunate 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 KellyRowland.com, 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. Her 2002 debut Simply Deep is her only album to receive RIAA certification (gold). Her 2011 release Here I Am had the future to become gold too; 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 .

Antwane Folk is the editorial assistant at RatedRnB.com.

12 Comments

  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 opinion..no one knows the facts…. and FYI to the writer of this article..do more research on Kelly Rowland’s achievements before you criticize her failures..so 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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5 Reasons We Love Faith Evans

Faith Evans is undoubtedly one of the greatest gifts to music. For more than two decades, the Grammy-winning artist has released an impactful catalog of music that has touched many hearts in all the right places with tender ballads like “You Used To Love Me,” and “I Love You.” Not only has Evans pulled our heartstrings, she’s gotten us out our seats and made us dance with party-starter anthems such as “Love Like This” and “All Night Long.”

As we get ready to dance ‘all night long’ for her 45th birthday, Rated R&B has compiled a list of reasons why we love Faith Evans.

1. She has killer background vocals

Evans has served up iconic background harmonies and melodies for many of our favorite R&B artists. From Hi-Five and Usher to Jon B and LSG, Evans has contributed her mesmerizing soprano notes to their discographies. Remember Mary J. Blige’s song “Don’t Go” from her My Life album? Evans brought her gospel influence (and elements of the New York Restoration Choir) to the ending reprise of the record.

2. She keeps the legacy of The Notorious B.I.G. alive

Since the untimely death of The Notorious B.I.G in 1997, Evans has made it her mission to honor his memory every chance she gets. Whether it’s recording a tribute song (“I’ll Be Missing You”) or bringing his life to theaters (Notorious), Evans wants us to know ‘we’ll always love you big poppa.’

In 2017, she released a duets album (The King & I) with previously released and rare vocals from her late husband. The LP also featured guest appearances from several hip-hop artists including Jadakiss and Lil’ Kim.

3. She re-introduced us to R&B legends.

Evans brought a nostalgic moment to television when she executive produced TV One’s hit reality series R&B Divas: Atlanta in 2012. The show told the current, real-life stories of multi-talented artists including Nicci Gilbert, Monifah Carter, Syleena Johnson, Dawn Robinson and Keke Wyatt.

In addition to the hit show, Evans spearheaded a full-length album (R&B Divas) that heard many of the stars voices for the first time in years. The project earned a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album in 2014.

4. She’s more than a singer, she’s a musician.

Evans brings more than just a voice to the studio. She possesses versatility in all areas of a recording process including songwriting, producing, engineering and vocal arranging. She’s lent her musicianship to several artists such as 112, Robin Thicke, Keyshia Cole and Q Parker to name a few.

Evan has also served as the executive producer on many of her projects and film soundtracks like Keep The Faith, Faithfully, Notorious, R&B Divas and The King and I.

5. She’s an ageless beauty.

Faith Evans’ unchanging good looks have followed her from the beginning of her career to now. She’s had the ability to rock a myriad of hairstyles. She can pull off the around the way girl look without having anyone to question why she has it on. Lastly, she doesn’t even have to wear makeup. She’s can proudly say, “I woke up like this.”

Follow Faith Evans on Instagram at @therealfaithevans and wish her a happy birthday!

5 Proclamations Made on Ashanti’s Album ‘The Declaration’

Can you believe 10 years have flown by since Ashanti released her fourth album The Declaration? It was the first time fans had to wait more than a year for her album to drop — but it was for a good reason, though.

The New York native was undergoing several changes in the music industry, while also stretching her talents in other ventures. She found herself switching labels and acting in two films (John Tucker Must Die and Resident Evil: Extinction) as the dust settled with the ongoing investigation of The Inc. Records (formerly Murder Inc.).

Ashanti’s time away from the music spotlight promoted the title of her 2008 release. “The reason why I named the album The Declaration is because this time around, during that four-year gap, I learned so much and I grew up so much,” she stated in a 2008 interview with PR.com. “This time around I handled my project completely on my own. I executive produced the entire album from the behind the scenes to the creative process. So, The Declaration just stands for declaring a sense of independence, a sense of freedom and just a sense of growing up.”

Testing the waters with a few songs ( “Switch” and “Hey Baby (After the Club)” ), Ashanti officially kicked off The Declaration era with “The Way That I Love You” in fall 2007. Shortly after securing her ninth top 5 single (No. 2) on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, the album was released on June 3, 2008.

As we glance back at Ashanti’s decade-old album, here are five proclamations made on The Declaration.

“You’re Gonna Miss”

1. The proclamation of self worth.

Not all love is worth fighting for. Find the strength to move on. Don’t look back or second guess if you made the right decision to leave.

“And when I try to justify what you did wrong / It’s like I’m constantly reminded that I can’t move on.”

“The Way That I Love You”

2. The proclamation of trusting your intuition.

These days, you can’t put anything past your lover. Although we don’t want to believe the ugly truth about our mate, face it head-on. It could be the thing to help heal your heart faster.

“Felt like you were hidin’ something, but I didn’t push it / I didn’t complain or say nothing.”

“Shine”

3. The proclamation of never dimming your light.

No one can take anything from you — especially your light. They might try and dim your bulb so their light can shine bright but always let ‘em know: it’s enough wattage for the both of us.

“They’ll try to take you, try to break you down / Remember you are born to shine.”

“Good Good”

4. The proclamation of sexual confidence.

Confidence starts within. Once you secure self-assurance about yourself (most importantly your body), you can only imagine the fire it will bring to the bedroom. Your mate shouldn’t even think about looking elsewhere if you possess that “good good.”

“Cause when I say I got that pop lock and drop it believe me / If I’m with you, it’s gon’ kill you on the days you don’t see me.”

“Mother”

5. The proclamation to honor thy mother.

A simple act of kindness should be putting a smile on your mother’s face. Yes, sometimes they drive us crazy and tell us the truth when our friends don’t, but the bond is unlike any other. So, hold on to it. Make sure to cherish her (or whomever you look up to as a mother in your life).

“I thank you, and I love you / And I would never place anyone above you.”

Stream The Declaration below.

What proclamations did you hear on The Declaration. Let us know in the comment section below.

Remembering Janet Jackson’s Album ‘janet’ 25 Years Later

Every legendary artist has a career-defining album; for Janet Jackson, janet is that album. Released on May 18, 1993, the album followed Rhythm Nation, a collection of songs that herald the pop icon joining the social and political conversation on the state of the world.

Although the socially conscious theme shined on Rhythm Nation, it wasn’t nearly as potent on janet. As her first album to be released on Virgin Records, the youngest Jackson sibling made some daring yet liberating choices for her new era. For starters, she dropped her surname for the album’s title to show her independence from the weight behind her family’s name. She updated her sound from industrial, and incorporated diverse genres including jazz, opera and hip-hop on many songs. She became more comfortable with her body, showing it off in the September 1993 issue of Rolling Stone. Lastly, janet highlighted her newfound confidence as a musician, taking charge of her lyrics and its accompanying production with the guidance of producing duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.

Less about world news, and more messages about eroticism (but safe practices: “Be a Good Boy”) and femininity, janet. brewed a larger, yet taboo conversation that Jackson didn’t explore fully discuss until this album.

“Sex has been an important part of me for several years. But it just hasn’t blossomed publicly until now,” Jackson told Rolling Stone in 1993. “I’ve had to go through some changes and shed some old attitudes before feeling completely comfortable with my body. Listening to my new record, people intuitively understand the change in me.”

The changed resulted in her first album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 350,000 copies sold in its first week. At the time, it was the highest debut sales for a woman since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991.

The album spawned six top 10 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100, including two No.1 singles: “Again” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.” The latter track, the album’s lead single, earned Jackson a Grammy win for Best R&B Song.

On the 25th anniversary of janet, producer Jimmy Jam shares how he views this groundbreaking album today and how it compares to a milestone project by Marvin Gaye.

“I view [janet] as a really good album,” he exclusively tells Rated R&B. “I think the album is very reflective of where we all were in our lives at that time. We always said Rhythm Nation was our What’s Going On and janet was our Let’s Get It On album. [janet] was definitely the love album.”

Jam also shares his thoughts on Jackson being honored with her “long overdue” Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards this Sunday.

“It’s obviously well-deserved and it’s probably a little overdue. But that’s okay,” he says. “She’s still alive to see it. And not only alive but she’s thriving. She’s about to go back on tour and show everybody’s how it’s been done. She’s had an amazing career thus far but I think she’s one of those people who’s done a lot but still has a lot more to say and do.”

Rated R&B revisited janet on its 25th anniversary and crafted a list of our top 5 songs.

1. “Any time, Any place”

Driven by a burning saxophone and deliberate finger snaps, the sensual song is fueled by lyrics of voyeurism, making it arguably the best record on this album.

2. “That’s the Way Love Goes”

Blended with hip-hop’s edge and Jackson’s flourishing sureness on intimacy and the powers of her own body, she takes us (and her love interest) to a places we’ve never been; and the trip isn’t bad either.

3. “Throb”

Bring your stamina. Over an oversexed-house beat, Jackson commands her mate to “boom, boom, boom until noon, noon, noon.”

4. “Funky Big Band”

Sampling “I’m in the Mood for Swing” by jazz giant Lionel Hampton, Jackson’s vocal improvisations are welcomed on this lively track.

5. “This Time”

“You’re dismissed,” says Janet after finally breaking it off with her ex. Now although she’s done with her lover’s drama, the song’s featured opera vocals from Kathleen Battle and accompanying production is packed with it.

Stream janet. below.

What’s your favorite track from janet? Tell us below.

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