Kimberly: The People I Used to Know
BOTTOM LINE Speaking her mind with a soulful backdrop
K. Michelle brings her no-holds-barred “Love & Hip Hop” reality-show background to her fourth album, “Kimberly: The People I Used to Know” (Atlantic), infusing her R&B with some hot takes.
It’s a shoot-from-the-hip style given to hits and misses, but when K. Michelle connects, she hits hard. In “Kim K,” she calls out the cultural double standard that criticizes some trends as “ghetto,” only to celebrate them when embraced by the Kardashians. “Wish I could be a Kardashian so I could be black,” she sings, after also discussing the grief she got for dating Idris Elba. “Put my face over Pac, wear my braids to the back.”
On “Takes Two,” which features Jeremih, she takes the song stylings of another ex, R. Kelly, and makes them her own.
She also lets her guard down on the wrenching ballad “Make This Song Cry” and the introspective “Talk to God,” where she bounces between vulnerable soul and tough-talking rhymes.
Unfortunately, there are times of empty posturing, as in the puffed-up “Either Way,” where Chris Brown’s verse makes matters worse. But “The People I Used to Know” has plenty to get acquainted with.