Back in 2009, K. Michelle was signed to the Jive-associated Hitz Committee label. She released some singles full of attitude, vulnerability, and humor, including "Fakin' It" -- a spectacular collaboration with Blac Elvis and Missy Elliott. None of the songs, remarkable as they were, threatened the upper reaches of Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
"All my life I've been struggling and stressing – that's why I come up in this bitch with aggression," sings K Michelle on the opening track of Rebellious Soul. It's as concise a summary of her MO as any: Michelle sings her pain with the passion of Mary J Blige, but with sharper elbows. Her tribulations have included single motherhood and domestic abuse, but it was her role on the MTV reality show Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta that paved the way for this debut album, which is as dramatic and raw as one might expect.
In one of K. Michelle’s earliest songs, “Fakin’ It”, the R&B singer bragged about her ability to pump up male egos: “I be frontin’, makin’ him think he’s somethin’ / Knowin’ I be lyin’ when I’m up, up on ‘em covers. ” She loves this guy, so she pretends she loves the sex, but the only thing giving her pleasure is the knowledge that she can play him easily—“I’m so good, I should become an actress.
On the docu-soap “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” which just completed its second season on VH1, K. Michelle is reliably pugnacious and routinely aggrieved. On a cast full of fighters — after all, these sorts of shows are nouveau soaps, modern pop operas — she stands out for her quick temper and willingness to rumble. It can be tough to remember that behind all that pique is a boatload of genuine talent, looking for a way to break through.
Maybe it’s because it’s 2013 and this is how the game goes now, but in no other year could an r’n’b singer openly go on a reality TV show to get a record deal and not only come out unscathed, but succeed. After dramatic stints on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, K. Michelle signed to Atlantic and released her debut album Rebellious Soul to largely unexpected success.