K.Michelle has managed to completely turn around her career by becoming one of the breakout stars of VH1 reality show, Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta. The confrontational singer has not only scored another major label deal, she has already moved up to the east coast to join the cast of Love & Hip-Hop New York, a much-needed boost for the show which was significantly less popular than its southern counterpart. On August 13th, K. Michelle released her debut studio album Rebellious Soul via Warner Bros. Records.
The first single, “My Life,” features MMG rapper Meek Mill, who happens to be the only guest on K.Michelle’s album. K.Michelle breaks down her struggles and her joy over escaping a life which could have pulled her under. Her journey has not been an easy one, and her music documents her emotional travels with a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Known for running the streets of Philly, Meek Mill was a perfect fit. “My Life” sets the general tone for the album as she sings, “Cause all my life I’ve been struggling and stressin’/ That’s why I come up in this b*tch with aggression/ Where I’m from n*ggas die every day/ Bet you ain’t seen a n*gga die right in ya face”.
Such stark imagery. There is no shortage of this throughout Rebellious Soul. The album could be labeled as an entire album of female anthems. There is beauty in the struggle, and K.Michelle’s blend of brawn and beauty translates as a well-articulated monologue. “Damn” is one of the standout tracks of the album. It tells the familiar tale of loving someone who really isn’t worthy and about how hard it is to walk away, a story many of us know all too well: “It would be nice to love you/ But I got too much to do/ Everyday I’m thinkin’ of you/ I’m supposed to be bulletproof…”
“I Don’t Like Me”is possibly the rawest offering on Rebellious Soul. K.Michelle spills out all of her insecurities over the delicate piano backdrop. It’s K.Michelle at her best. It’s beautiful to see some vulnerability from the woman who never appears to run out of steam. “I Don’t Like Me” is refreshingly human.
Not all the tracks are as melancholy. Songs such as “Pay My Bills” and “Hate On Her” exhibit the fierier, notoriously aggressive K.Michelle we are used to hearing. “Pay My Bills” is most definitely the raunchiest track on the album, as K.Michelle compares her sexual prowess to paying bills. “V.S.O.P” features a sample from Debra Laws’ 1981 single “Very Special” (which you may recognize from J.Lo’s single “All My Love”). With the slow jam-inspired beat (produced by Pop & Oak), K.Michelle breaks down her plans to treat her beau to a romantic night in. *Cue the scented candles*
The title Rebellious Soul is extremely fitting. Not known for mincing her words, K.Michelle goes straight for the jugular. There is no holding back on this album. But that’s one of the qualities her fans as well as her harshest critics most love about her: She will go there. She will go beyond the place where many of us have drawn the line. It makes for entertaining listening.
Overall Rebellious Soul is a great effort from K.Michelle if you are already a K.Michelle fan. You can expect to be serenaded with tales of heartbreak, sexual encounters for grown folks and mantras of female empowerment. The production is complimentary to both K.Michelle’s heavy vocals and candid lyrical content. She does not drown in the instrumentals. The beats are relatively simple without ever crossing over into vanilla territory. Every detail on this album has been carefully constructed so as to allow K.Michelle to shine her brightest. The mere fact that she only has one feature speaks volumes, confident that her music will stand firm on its own without the need for any flashy extras. It should be noted that K.Michelle co-wrote every track on the album. The lyrics are not particularly complex and do not go over your head, making the songstress tremendously relatable and endearing. For those with delicate ears, tread carefully. There is a fair amount of cursing on Rebellious Soul. Family album it is not. However, it is an honest, unguarded offering from the R&B singer. If you can handle your music smooth with a sharp, biting edge, then Rebellious Soul should be right up your alley.