We all know a K Michelle: a magnet for drama who needs a mere baptismal sprinkling of white wine to start violently venting about it all. But while a road trip with her might be trying, listening to the Love & Hip Hop star is enormously enjoyable when paired with the quality songwriting here. Any album that opens with the line “Who the fuck told you hoes to open up” is going to have a fair bit of sass, but it’s low on bland aggro – aside from the obnoxious Rich, on which she complains about her “rich-people problems”, Michelle’s travails are told with a rounded humanity.
If you like your R&B confrontational and full-bodied, then singer, songwriter and reality TV star K Michelle’s third album is the perfect antidote to the genre’s whinier exponents. “I’m coming straight from the gut,” she warns on rattling opener Mindful, while the excellent If It Ain’t Love skews the vintage R&B ballad with a chorus of “It’s crazy, amazing, we fucked it up”. Elsewhere she channels early Mary J on the piano-led Not a Little Bit and could have a proper hit on her hands with the pulsating Jason Derulo duet Make the Bed.
K. Michelle always entertains through the surprising experimentations in her music, promising something else is up her sleeve. On More Issues Than Vogue, Michelle's third album, the performer and musician delivers her most affecting, skillful, and innovative record yet. Diving deep into the best elements of traditional R&B, sing-song pop, rap, and further out sounds, Michelle makes the best argument for herself as artist, and she succeeds.
K. Michelle's career is a case study in the varying effects of commercial radio and reality television on the condition of 2010s R&B. After Kimberly Michelle Pate didn't receive proper support from her first label, her future in music was in flux. It took reality television stardom to prompt a second shot, a deal with major label Atlantic.
Yes, there’s more to R&B in early 2016 than Anderson .Paak. The Los Angeles dynamo has been rightly lionized for blending hip-hop, pimpish soul, and skate-park pop on his second album Malibu, following his breakthrough contributions (among far bigger names) on Dr. Dre’s swan song, Compton. But ….