Thank you, K. Michelle. For being the older sister who went through it all, just so we wouldn’t have to.
Luckily for us, she’s put it all on wax in her record label debut, Rebellious Soul (Atlantic).
But as her single “V.S.O.P” sits on the digital Top 10 R&B charts, it’s not just Michelle’s talent for singing that’s got her this far. Undoubtedly, it’s the Memphis native’s standout performance on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta.
She’s been called aggressive, overly sensitive and at times, unlikable, but at the end of every episode you still forgive and hug it out with her. Because that’s big sis.
And largely, that’s part of her appeal.
No matter how much real talk she delivers, she still reminds you that you two are more alike than different. In the first season, Michelle comes clean on her personal battle with domestic violence which immediately caused a stir amongst her fellow cast members and viewers.
And while women singers like Alicia Keys are currently ruling the charts with sweet tunes like “Fire We Make”, Michelle makes you think about the other reality: If you have the nerve to screw her over, she might literally set your house on fire.
Rebellious Soul is K. Michelle’s testament. Throughout are tales including hard truths on “My Life”, love making on the R. Kelly-assisted “Pay My Bills” and a vulgar interlude that includes lyrics we one day have to explain to the innocent ears of our sons and daughters.
K. Michelle’s debut album represents an underserved genre of R&B and her voice is much appreciated.
Over the last five years, K. Michelle bubbled under the radar releasing four popular mixtapes, built her loyal fan base and famously broke up with her boyfriend on the radio.
It was in 2009, though, where a breakout of sorts happened when Michelle posted a YouTube video singing an A Cappella version of an original track titled “Where They Do That At”. The next year, she appeared in a video alongside her mentor R. Kelly on a remix of “Echo”, a song off his Untitled album. In the video, R. Kelly prophetizes her future saying: “If she takes off on this, she’ll take off on something else. That’s just how it goes.”
She signed with Jive Records and released three singles including “Fallin” and “How Many Times”, both of which charted but never gained steam. She left the label.
In the summer of 2012, things started to take off. Michelle joined the cast of LHHATL television series. The opportunity, with millions watching, allowed her to share the story she’s been sharing for years. The early adopter fans loved her more, while newcomers joined in on the intriguing singer’s tales.
Today, Michelle garners comparisons to the most successful of the “blue collar blues” in this generation, Keyshia Cole. While the comparisons are expected, we must remember Cole’s first three albums went platinum or better, complete with Grammy nods.
What’s now left to see with K. Michelle is if people are willing to buy what she’s selling.
In a time where entertainers like Jay-Z and Miguel must utilize non-traditional platforms to popularize their music, K. Michelle (and Tamar Braxton) should be noted as a beacon of example for reality TV stars looking to share their music.
While Rebellious Soul stays true to what we know about K. Michelle, it doesn’t pack a huge load of ambition. It’s just the blues. But one thing is for sure, in a few years, we’ll still be talking about this album and every story that came with it.