Back in 2009, K. Michelle was signed to the Jive-associated Hitz Committee label. She released some singles full of attitude, vulnerability, and humor, including "Fakin' It" -- a spectacular collaboration with Blac Elvis and Missy Elliott. None of the songs, remarkable as they were, threatened the upper reaches of Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Near the end of 2010, K. Michelle played R. Kelly's duet partner on Love Letter's "Love Is," but she and her label parted prior to the completion of her own album. Years later, after co-starring on Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta and releasing mixtapes like 0 Fucks Given, she completed her proper debut, released by the Atlantic label. Rebellious Soul has some of that frankness known by those who have been following her for years, like when she proclaims "I'm-a fuck you like I'm tryin' to pay bills/Georgia Power, cable bill, babysitter, tonight you will." She's also open enough to write "I Don't Like Me," a strings-and-piano ballad filled with self-loathing and envy. The best material either evokes or is graced with touches of classic soul, like the Pop & Oak-produced "V.S.O.P." (Chi-Lites strings, Debra Laws quote) and the aching "Damn," which makes like a missing highlight from Monica's After the Storm. There's a surprising shortage of uptempo and aggressive tracks, but the mean "Ride Out" -- another Pop & Oak contribution -- has some trunk-rattling bottom end. A compact, lyrically diverse debut, Rebellious Soul makes it plain that K. Michelle should be supported enough to reverse her albums-to-mixtapes ratio.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: The Chi-Lites
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