Never one to back down from getting people to talk about her, K. Michelle had originally planned to give her 3rd album a rather provocative title: I Ain’t White, But I Hope You Like.
This album was supposed to be K. Michelle’s experiment with different genres, including Country, for which she has professed her love and expressed the desire to get into many times, but the powers that be have apparently always told her that, as a black artist, she should stick to her genre, which is R&B. And that’s why in what became More Issues Than Vogue we find very little of that experimental side.
Instead, this third album became yet another means for her to address her lack of luck with relationships and a platform to vent about the things she’s often criticized for on social media (terms such as “bipolar” and “thot” are on the artwork for this very reason). K. Michelle is definitely very aware of how she portrays herself and how she’s perceived by the public and the media and it seems like she’s pretty careless, even though she clearly has a softer side like everyone else.
The album features more contemporary songs than her last record and is probably the one with the most upbeat moments thus far. The intro “Mindful” finds Kimberly giving her best Kendrick Lamar impression over a funky riff and drums. “Got Em Like” has her bragging about having all eyes on her at the club, while “Ain’t You” is the kind of song you’d find on a Urban playlist next to Bryson Tiller.
The reality is that K. Michelle is someone who can make good R&B music, especially when she’s tapping into the soulful and traditional sounds as she does on poignant ballads such as “If It Ain’t Love,” “Time” and “These Men” which showcase her emotional singing abilities or on “Nightstand,” where she mixes a contemporary lyrical approach with retro production work. The lead single “Not a Little Bit” is a throwback to a time (about 10 years ago) when a piano ballad with a beat would get you to the top of the Hot 100, while today it’d be considered an achievement if it just got to the top 20 of the R&B charts.
What could, however, ideally get K. Michelle to the top 10 is “Make the Bed,” a collaboration with Jason Derulo that does not sound out of place next to the likes of Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande, in fact it even recalls Grande’s duet with The Weeknd “Love Me Harder.”
Overall it seems like Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? had a lot more personality as an album: it felt more cohesive and it told an intimate story of love, passion and disappointments. Here K. is touching on the same subjects, but the impression is that she’s giving the music a more distant, more universal perspective. Perhaps this is also due to the fact that she relinquished some of the control over the lyrics.
So if anyone’s interested in K. Michelle’s attempts at Country, they’re going to have to wait for her EP to drop or check out the exclusive deluxe edition of the album for a little appetizer. She promised the experiments will see the light of day and we’re eager to see and hear the results. In the meantime, More Issues Than Vogue is the album that will hold you over. It may not be exactly what the artist had originally envisioned, but it’s still a solid collection of tracks and a nice addition to a catalog that’s surely shaping up to grow strong.