K. Michelle Spills The Beans On New Single “Love ‘Em All”, Her Country Duet & Sophomore Album: Idolator Interview
K. Michelle is one of the most polarizing divas in modern R&B. The Memphis-born babe’s blunt manor and general lack of fucks (as evidenced on hit reality TV show Love & Hip Hop) won her a large and very loyal following but also made the 30-year-old a magnet for all kinds of online drama. As a result, the soul siren’s excellent debut LP Rebellious Soul didn’t get the critical acclaim it deserved but that didn’t stop the album vastly exceeding sales expectations.
And she has her sights set even higher for mysteriously-titled sophomore set AWBAH. K. recently dropped by the Idolator office in Los Angeles to chat about the album’s killer lead single “Love ‘Em All” and her move towards a broader pop sound. She also revealed that she’s revisiting her country roots (it was her first love) on a high-profile duet and spoke openly about ongoing beefs with Lil’ Kim and Iggy Azalea. See what the rising star had to say after the jump.
Are you going more pop on this album? I’m always pre-judged from the gate, from Love & Hip Hop. You have to do what you have to do to get where you need to be. But musically, I can play classical piano, I can play guitar and I can sight read music. I grew up around music. My vocal coach was Bob Westbrook, who trained Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. So I grew up yodeling — that was his thing.
I’ve always been diverse in music. My first love was country. The last album was kind of a glorified mixtape — I was so angry and aggressive. But this time, I needed a new vibe. So with “Love ‘Em All” I wanted to be innovative and progressive.
What can you tell us about the new album? I merged a lot of genres. I have a country record with a big country artist on it — it’s called “God, I Get It”. It’s an amazing record. People are going to be really shocked. I want people to know that I don’t fuck around with music. You don’t have to like me, but you’re going to respect me as an artist. That album is global album, and it’s really exciting.
Your debut LP did really well but do you have even higher expectations this time around? It’s so different. People who were pushing back from me, I’m beating them down! You have to fight for your spot. They didn’t even place me overseas with the last album. This album is a global album, and I’m going overseas and my single will be released in the UK in January. I think everyone was shocked [by the success of my first album].
Even though I think the album was underrated, it still sold. That shocked people. My label under-shipped, they admitted they didn’t even know that was gonna happen. It was #2 [on the Billboard 200] and #1 on the R&B charts, and for a reality star to do that… no one thought that was even possible. This time around I’m more prepared.
Please explain your album title. What does AWBAH mean? It’s an acronym and it’s the name of the album. I started tweeting it before I even started recording the album. We’re actually shooting a mini-movie to announce the title. Everything is going to be super-creative this time and perfect. You’ll see the meaning behind it and why it’s called that, and you’ll get the day of the release and the album title in about three weeks.
How did you get Idris Elba to direct your musical? Idris is great, he’s very creative. We clicked so well. I re-wrote my whole album and let him hear it. He said, ‘you are a crazy genius!’ So we did it. Atlantic [Records] was supportive, VH1 has been super supportive of me. And we shot it. [Idris] didn’t want it to be super ghetto and ratchet, he wanted to bring in the theatre. He did a great job with it. I have to thank him for being one of the people to believe in me first.
Can you talk about “Can’t Raise A Man” because that song truly is the gospel? That song is for everybody. I had that song on the Zero Fucks Given mixtape. And I wasn’t even gonna put it on the album, but that was the one song that people knew word for word without it ever being on the radio. So it picked itself, it made itself a single. The fact that everywhere I go, people know every single word. It did what it’s supposed to do. If I wasn’t on reality tv, it would’ve been way bigger!
Is there still a stigma being on a reality show? The only two girls — and she’s not my favorite, TayMuppet [Tamar Braxton] — that really did a lot this year besides Jhene Aiko were me and her. We came from reality shows, and we were going toe-to-toe. Def Jam even had a meeting about their artists and said, ‘the only girls who are doing something are these reality girls!’
We actually hurt a lot of peoples’ feelings in those record labels, because they thought their artists could do it. But nowadays, the fans want to see you. It’s not about my fans, it’s about the politics and the industry and how they try to keep me from doing different things.
You have several beefs going on. What’s the deal with Lil’ Kim? I remember when R. Kelly first met me, he became my mentor. He always said, ‘they’re gonna get you.’ He said, ‘You’re really talented and you have a big mouth and you’re opinionated.’ I kind of understand it now. I really feel like I’m one of the few female artists who actually say anything. It kind of excites me a little bit, I give them hell!
There’s no real beef with Lil’ Kim. I’m kind of a comedian, I can talk about a situation and make you laugh. But I was just saying how great Nicki Minaj was, Nicki has always been very nice to me. At the VMA’s, I was just happy to see Nicki so I said, ‘Yay, the queen of rap!’ Nobody is thinking about you girl, the VMAs are on!
So I was looking at Nicki, and looking at Jessie J up there singing. Her fans just attacked me, they started to talk about my child. So when they got on my child, that’s when I said ‘fuck you Lil Kim fans.’ And then she hopped in it. Don’t come for me unless I send for you. I did not ask you, you have my phone number so text me. So once you start me, I have to stop myself — YOU can’t! And that’s all.
You’re also not a huge fan of Iggy Azalea… I just say what I want to say! I don’t think she’s talented! That’s just me, no one can take that from me. Why do I have to be fake? She can say she doesn’t like my music, and if I see her I’m still gonna speak! I’m gonna be like, ‘Congrats on what you’re doing.’ She might roll her eyes, but I’m proud of her.
She is a woman doing big things. But will I abide or listen to it? No! Shoot me, I don’t want to! Even with me, you don’t have to like every song. You can tell me if you see me that you don’t like a record. That’s just how i am, I guess everybody isn’t like that.
So “Love ‘Em All” has some sexy lyrics. What’s the real message? I decided if I got blessed with a second chance, I was gonna go balls to the wall. My music is honest. Like, women want to say that! I say every damn thing else so I might as well sing it and say how I feel. Men say we ain’t loyal, and they treat women as the enemy now. So how I’ve been raised is, get you a team of bitches and pick your MVP.
Whichever one comes first and does the right thing and think is best for you, yea! But to sit around on a couch eating ice cream and cry and go into depression and become Spongebob… I’m not having it! It’s not gonna get me bad-bodied and out of shape! I’m gonna go out there and date, and women should date! I didn’t say fuck ’em all, I said love ’em all.
You also have a new reality show coming? It’s coming out November 3. I keep my son very private because of things like those Lil Kim fans. And people think my son is never with me. You don’t know what’s going on with me and this child. You’ll get to see him. He has the same personality as his mother! You just get to see me developing this album. When things happen for you, you have to start looking at your friends differently.
I’ve had some real unscripted things happen with friends who were hurtful, from stealing to all kinds of stuff. So you’ll just get to see what I deal with in life. So that’s the reality show, and then we’re working on a sitcom for me. We’re trying to decide who the main writer is going to be, the channel, everything. We’re gonna be talking about that soon.
How do you balance everything? You just have to want something so bad, and when you know your purpose you’ll never sleep. My mind is always thinking. I can think of something creative at like 4 in the morning and start sending emails out. I just really want to be great. If it’s cursing you out, then I wanna be the best at it!
What do you have planned for the “Love ‘Em All” video? This is going to be different for me. This video has to be very innovative. A lot of the artists from the UK, they’re videos are amazing! You’ll get to see me of course, half-naked. I paid a lot for this body, so you’re gonna see it! The mannequin thing is all into it. You’re gonna watch, you’re not gonna click off of it, I promise!
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