DAR R&B Spotlight: Miguel

By @TrueGodImmortal

When we talk the new era of music and R&B, it's not many artists these days that stand out with music that is consistently entertaining, pleasing to the ears, and very enjoyable. However, in the midst of the mediocre sounds of today musically, there's always one or two bright spots. One bright spot that has been on the scene since the start of the 2010s is Miguel. The talented singer that hails from  LA has been on the scene since about 2007, but didn't get his big break until his debut album dropped at the end of 2010. My first introduction to the sounds of Miguel came from him guest appearing on the classic Blu and Exile album, Below The Heavens, which was a solid beginning for the singer.

After some time, Miguel ended up working on his debut, and he shocked the world when he appeared with the title track to his album featuring the growing young star J. Cole, "All I Want Is You". The song is an ode to an ex that he misses and wants back, something that I'm sure we all can relate to. Miguel has smooth vocals that carried the boom bap beat to a higher level than if someone else would have sung it. His debut album was something very dope and I think it's a great marker for him overall. His debut album hit with the title track, but the best song on the album to me remains the smooth "Sure Thing". In addition to having some creative concepts and soulful rhythms, Miguel also possessed a catchy element to all of his music, further making him a new favorite for a large amount of the fans who enjoy R&B. Some might consider him a bridge between R&B and neo-soul, though in reality, there's not much of a difference in either at the core.

His debut album sold poorly out the gate, but began to pick up steam on the back of the title track and "Sure Thing", but he would have yet another dope track become popular, based on the most simple of sexual acts. The slow, somehow seductive flow of "Quickie", managed to captivate many ears in urban markets and all over radio stations. The lyrics are simple and the hook is a bit weird in the execution, but it just works perfectly. See the hook below:

"I don't wanna be loved.... I don't wanna be loved.... I just want a quickie....."

Simple enough, right? In addition to that, there were songs like "Girls Like You", "Pay Me", and a crowd favorite "Vixen", that could have been an extra single off the album if he wanted it to be. While I do enjoy his debut, I have to make mention of his almost classic sophomore effort, Kaleidoscope Dream. It seemed like Miguel wanted to go for a different feel and almost different look for his 2nd album, something that should come as no surprise to fans of his since he is inspired heavily by Prince. The 2nd album was ripe with Prince influence, as Miguel teetered the line between R&B, soul, funk, and rock, and he did it at a higher level than we had seen since the days of the Purple legend.

My favorite songs from Kaleidoscope Dream is not just the singles, but the singles have to be discussed. There are some songs that instantly catch on, and some that take time to catch on, but I'd be lying if I said I loved "Adorn" when I first heard it. I liked the sounds of the production and I thought Miguel had a great delivery of everything on the song, but it didn't grab the first time I heard it. When I listened to the album a month later, I found myself loving the song completely. It was everything from the stutter step drum rhythm to the catchy yet simplistic hook that took it to the next level. It was upgraded soul from the feel of the new age R&B stars in the vein of the Weeknd. It was more authentic in the approach and could talk about similar topics in a different manner, case in point, "Do You....", the 2nd official single off the album.

Starting with the simple yet odd question of "Do You Like Drugs..." before following up with "yeah, well me too", the song tends to be music that enables, but it's just so infectious you ignore the connotation behind it. The verses are interesting to say the least also, and I think Miguel's songwriting is something interesting, with his visual displays in his words. While I liked "How Many Drinks", it wasn't one of my favorite songs on the album. Oddly enough, my favorite song on the album was one that truly sounds like an outtake kept on there. "Pussy Is Mine" might sound a bit crass as a title for a song, but the song is perfect and the small guitar rhythm hums the sound gently as Miguel sings some hilarious lyrics that invoke laughter, but a sense of unimaginable relatablity. It is my favorite song on the album, and one of my personal favorites from Miguel in general. Kaleidoscope Dream was the most successful album for Miguel, but the album came at a time where his profile was raising higher and higher it seemed via hooks for other artists.

His first really big hook came on Wale's "Lotus Flower Bomb", which hit no. 1 on the R&B chart. As I'm not a big fan of Wale, Miguel made this song completely listenable and carried it to be a hit with his vocal riffs and his smooth harmony. He reunited with J. Cole to make the very popular hit "Power Trip", where Miguel and his hook seemed to become iconic in the moment, with everyone I saw utilizing the "would you believe me if I said I'm in love" part. He would also work with Mariah Carey, Janelle Monae, and a host of others and provide them with his soulful style as well. As Miguel got ready to release his third album, I remember thinking he was going to have to go a different route to make it work.

That he did.

With his third album Wildheart, he infused more new wave sounds and psychedelic rock, which was something a bit different than his others, Miguel created something very special. This isn't more so single driven, but the album as a whole is very pleasing. There's a very eery feel about this album in some of the songs like "DEAL", "the valley", and we ended up having a review on this album at one point about a year ago when it dropped. If you'd like to read it, go through the DAR archives. My favorite songs here were "Coffee", and "FLESH", but there's nothing bad about this album and this could be his best overall work, yet it's extremely slept on. 3 albums, all different, but all amazing to the ears. That's what makes Miguel so special to the genre. Not afraid to stretch the limits of it, not afraid to make music that might be daring, he stands out over the rest in this era period. That's why he deserved this spotlight. I can only hope his next album is just as dope as the other three. I don't doubt it will be.



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