There isn’t much that K Michelle hasn’t done in this life; television, film and music are all strings to her diverse skill set. The latter being her main focus once more on fourth album KIMBERLY: The People I Used To Know, her second in as many years. Michelle blends her many public personas together to create one all encompassing image that for the most part makes for an entertaining listen.
The record opens with a brief spoken word spiel detailing Michelle’s life to date, I will come out and say it – spoken word album intros need to be left in 2017 – but Michelle’s is one of the less cringeworthy offerings. What follows is Alert, which melodically feels like a rushed attempt to cash in on Cardi B’s recent success. The flow has plenty of attitude, asserting K Michelle as a strong lead character in her own production.
Kim K has a touch of smooth jazz piano about it, backing the juddering drums which is a risky move but it pays off. Michelle speaks of the public wishing her former beaus were with white women instead, a resonant social statement in a year of woeful violence against people of colour the world over. There is a real depth to K Michelle that refuses to be watered down in exchange for more commercial success, something greatly admirable about her personality.
For all her talk of feminism and supporting other females, there remains a song on this record with a Chris Brown feature… the less said about which is for the better. The smooth jazz returns for the Fuck Your Man – Interlude, a much more subtle affair than the title would suggest. K Michelle isn’t just a talented rapper, her singing voice lends itself well to a more retro style. This is an artist who knows her musical history, and isn’t afraid to flex outside of her comfort zone.
Many musical styles are evident throughout this record, presenting a well-rounded and thought out musical process. Run Don’t Walk is a ballad-lite track of reassurance, preaching patience over immediacy. From slow to soul, Talk To God exercises a classic 90s sound as a subtle nod to Michelle’s many years of dedication to her craft. At times, this can come off as a little standoffish but when you think about how much louder female artists of colour must shout just to be heard then a lot of that initial near shock is put into perspective.
It’s been a number of years since K Michelle got started in the music business, but KIMBERLY: The People I Used To Know highlights an artist with their fingers and soul firmly on the pulse all these years later. There is enough differentiation to maintain intrigue even if the album is some 20+ tracks long. K Michelle is never one to mince her words, and she’s certainly not going to be changing that any time soon.