Rebellious Soul (to be released August 13, 2013)
Allow your boy to be honest right off the bat: I can’t watch Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. To quote the old ladies at church, it just doesn’t sit well in my spirit.
Don’t get me wrong, I watch plenty of trashy TV. Cheaters, Bad Girls Club, The Maury Show – even R&B Divas has its hood moments.
But Love & Hip Hop ratchets up that ratchet factor to levels even I can’t deal with. But thanks to the ghetto TV analysts on my social media feeds, I can’t escape the madness.
And the person who is usually at the center of the madness? Budding R&B star K. Michelle. I know her as the woman who sang about faking orgasms a few years back. But if you’re a fan of Love & Hip Hop, you know her has the woman who, among other things, beat her friend with a bouquet of flowers.
And oh yeah, THIS.
K. Michelle puts ratchet on wax with Rebellious Soul, her long-delayed solo LP. And if you’re a fan of her special brand of hood anarchy, you’ll find lots to enjoy here.
“My Life” is the perfect album opener. It certainly sets the tone and tells you EXACTLY what to expect: “All my life I’ve been struggling and stressing/that’s why I come up in this b*tch with aggression.” This album is K. Michelle personified – loud, sometimes annoying, other times brutally honest.
When K. Michelle leans on that honesty, that’s when things click. “Can’t Raise A Man” basically says what I’ve been telling y’all in my Love Letters column for years – you can’t force a grown man to get his act together. She plays the role of experienced older sister well.
“I Don’t Like Me” is almost heartbreaking, as an envious K. Michelle bashes herself while admiring another woman’s beauty. That outpouring of emotion carries over into “When I Get A Man,” which brims with passion. K. Michelle’s aching vocals yearn for a love she’s been unable to find. “A Mother’s Prayer,” a tribute to her child, is also surprisingly tender.
But the rest of the album? Oh man.
There’s no doubt about it, K. Michelle has been blessed with a pretty powerful voice. But here’s the problem – she hasn’t quite mastered it. High notes become ear-shattering squeals in an instant. “Hate On Her” and current single “V.S.O.P.” are like driving a big rig on a wet highway: It’s all good until she gives it too much octane and things start spinning out of control.
And if you thought K. Michelle’s impromptu song lyrics in the earlier VH1 video were bad, wait till you hear the screeching “Pay My Bills,” where she promises, “I’m gonna f*** you like I’m tryna pay my bills.” Or “Sometimes,” with poetic lines like “If I could write the perfect script, it would be on some Notebook s***.”
There’s even an interlude called “Coochie Symphony.”
Let that one sink in.
Yeah, I know these tracks are intentionally over the top. But the abrasive lyrics combined with yelling masquerading as singing gets old. FAST. Just imagine Keyshia Cole screaming and drunk texting for 45 minutes. That’s the majority of Rebellious Soul for you.
K. Michelle’s appeal has always been “what crazy thing is she gonna say next?” And lines like “A lot of time spent on my knees/But I d*mn sure ain’t praying” will keep her reality show fans entertained. But for R&B fans, Rebellious Soul is like one of her outrageous YouTube clips – check it out briefly for shock value, then move on.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to watch my back. I expect K. Michelle to smack me with flowers any minute now, then write a song about it.
Best tracks: “Can’t Raise A Man,” “When I Get A Man,” “V.S.O.P.”
3 stars out of 5