Release Date: Jul 26, 2011
Record label: Motown
Genre(s): Pop, R&B, Contemporary R&B
"I'm dat chick," crows Kelly Rowland on the opening track of her third album. Is she, though? Rowland has always been dat other chick, unable to shake the shadow of former Destiny's Child co-star Beyoncé. On Here I Am, the title telegraphs the message—ladies and gentlemen, the real Kelly Rowland—but the 2011 model sounds just about the same as the Rowland of Ms.
Between Kelly Rowland's profile-raising stint as an X Factor judge and the ubiquity of her autumn hit Down for Whatever, this album should have been packed with enough "plot" to send it straight to the top 10. Yet it stalled at 43 (though it reached No 3 in the US), and that's regrettable; it's a confident, forthright collection that puts paid to the perception that she's Beyoncé Knowles's former sidekick. Though not the most characterful singer, Rowland compensates by choosing expressive, memorable songs (including the lewdly pulsing All of the Night, which contains the head-scratching line: "It's going down like a basement" – why a basement?).
Kelly Rowland's third album, following a split with manager Mathew Knowles and label Columbia, is as much of a patchwork as 2007’s Ms. Kelly. There’s an extensive cast of producers and songwriters, as well as a handful of guest MCs. The set aims at the R&B, pop, and dance markets with clear distinctions, so several songs sound like isolated projects rather than pieces of a whole.
Rowland just might be the Jennifer Aniston of R&B: Years after splitting with an A-list ?partner (in this case, ?ex-groupmate Beyoncé), she’s stuck with an underdog rap she doesn’t deserve. Her third solo album, Here I Am, proves that Ms. Rowland is doing just fine on her own, thank you; it’s a solid if unambitious set of medium-hot finger snappers highlighted by the lusciously slinky top 20 hit ”Motivation” and the robo-groove of ”I’m Dat Chick,” on which she brags, ”Yeah, I be the one that they love to mention.” If she learns to take a few more risks, that may just end up being true.
In this King B world, it’s hard out here for a female R&B singer. Magnify that difficulty by a thousand for the girls who shared her spotlight on the come up. Especially for Kelly Rowland. Just as beautiful, trained to belt out the same notes while dancing full out in heels, she has all the ingredients needed to become one of Pop music’s greatest confections.
Pity the woman destined to be compared with Beyoncé for the rest of her career. On Rowland's third solo album, however, it's not her Destiny's Child BFF you hear but another R&B queen bee. Full of new-found sauce and assertiveness, Rowland seems to have learned a thing or two from Rihanna. Sadly, much of the material is generic: bland Euro bangers such as the abjectly titled "Down for Whatever" abound, but sometimes, as on the sex-soaked Lil Wayne collaboration "Motivation", Rowland reminds us that she can, to use her newly adopted catchphrase, absolutely "put it down".
Limping into release 16 months after its first single dropped, and only one month after Beyoncé‘s 4 hit the charts, Kelly Rowland’s third album seems doomed to elicit further comparisons between the singer and her former bandmate. This association is furthered by the fact that Here I Am is an ostensible declaration of independence, Rowland’s first album away from Destiny’s Child’s Columbia homebase and without Matthew Knowles as her manager. Yet it’s most likely an expression of Beyoncé and Rowland’s differing status levels that the two albums have so little in common.
“Here I Am” (Universal Republic) Kelly Rowland, the former Destiny’s Child runner-up, has approached the problem of her solo career from any number of directions. She’s tried various types of music, collaborated far and wide. This year she’ll be one of the post-Cowell replacement judges on “The X Factor” in England. Most recently she’s become a dance diva, having some of her biggest international success working with the French dance producer David Guetta on “When Love Takes Over.” Dance music is a great place to hide in plain sight, a world where Ms.
An album of two halves – even if its better one is something of a grab-bag of club cuts. Nick Levine 2011 No, she's not Beyoncé. Then again, her BFF and former bandmate has the market cornered when it comes to Glasto-stealing, Obama-charming, baby-bump-baring RnB divas. But even if these days her pop career seems to proceed on a single-by-single basis, Kelly Rowland hasn't had a bad run since Destiny's Child disbanded.
Destiny's middle child, Kelly Rowland, sexes it up on her third solo album, an unsurprising pop effort that fails to find a distinctive voice for the singer. Rowland has found success as a dance diva of late, but save for a pair of big shiny club jams courtesy of producers David Guetta and RedOne, Here I Am concerns itself with the kind of bland, radio-friendly R&B pop that equates sex appeal with self-confidence. That said, the most interesting song is also the sexiest: producer Jim Jonsin's spacious, slinky R&B jam Motivation, a welcome reprieve from pulverizing, vaguely hooky fare like Turn It Up and Work It Man.