DAR Music: Rating Miguel's Albums

By @TrueGodImmortal

In today's music, there are very few artists that give you the feeling of the legends that drew us to the various genres. One artist, Miguel, has given us something nostalgic with a new twist to it since his arrival in the music world. My first time hearing his work was on the Blu and Exile album, as he contributed some hooks, but in 2010, I got introduced to his music as a solo artist. Over the last 7 (nearly 8) years, Miguel has been one of the most consistent artists in the game and definitely in R&B. With 4 albums under his belt, we wanted to take a look at his work and what he does best musically, by rating his albums on a scale of 1-10. Does any album actually get rated a 10? Let's take a look.

*All I Want Is You (2010)

-The debut album from Miguel is an amazing listen from start to finish and it showcases his talent at a high rate. With production from Salaam Remi, Fisticuffs, Dre & Vidal, and more, Miguel crafted a bevy of hits and smooth ballads to entice the listener. Released on Jive Records, the album seemed to suffer from lackluster promotion, which seemingly came from a belief that this album wasn't going to be a big hit. Jive seemed to be right at first, as the album struggled a bit out the gate, but the music itself was so solid that there was no way to deny it. This album from top to bottom is a great listen, though there are a few songs I've skipped from time to time. Still, there are songs here that are excellent and really set the tone for what was to come from Miguel in the future. While the J. Cole featured title track was the starting point of the album in terms of singles, the two singles that really put this album on my radar are "Sure Thing" and "Quickie", both of which were pretty successful on radio and on the charts. For me, "Sure Thing" was the song that made me listen to the entire album, and it's one of his best songs to date. It's smooth, with nice production and a bounce to it, which makes the track more appealing to the ear. For "Quickie", it's more of a ballad full of harmonic rhythm, especially in the chorus. The subject matter of the song actually has a comedic feel to it, but the track is one of the highlights of the album for sure.

There are other amazing tracks on this album, with "Vixen" being one of the standout songs overall, and "Girls Like You" is an actual slept on gem that would become a single later in the album's cycle. With 13 tracks, this album is a great introduction to Miguel, along with a preview of his growth as an artist in the future.
Rating: 8/10

*Kaleidoscope Dream (2012)

-His best album is likely going to be considered a modern day classic when it's all said and done. It is definitely the most ecletic of his albums, and showcases a bit more creativity than his debut exhibited. For me, I think what makes this album so special is that despite the artistic creativity showcased in the music, it feels very free flowing in terms of sequencing and cohesion, which usually isn't a good thing for albums, but here it just works. The production here can be a bit on the psychedelic side at times, with a plethora of hazy synths, melodic bass riffs, and lighter drum patterns throughout. If I could categorize this album, I wouldn't just throw it in the R&B pile, because it's equal parts electronic soul and funk, as it is R&B. Miguel has seemed comfortable with the label "alternative R&B" and has coined the phrase "avant soul" to describe himself musically, and both of those are pretty accurate, especially here. While the biggest single of the album remains the modern classic "Adorn", which is a record that will be played for years to come, there's a lot of great music here with a shorter tracklist than his debut. The shorter tracklist actually helps the album, as it doesn't hit a dry spot or have a song that isn't enjoyable really. There are songs that are in the upper echelon of course, like the hit singles "Do You" and "How Many Drinks", along with what is basically a smooth interlude in "Pussy Is Mine". The song is mostly acoustic and flows perfectly, but the lyrical content definitely invokes a bit of laughter. Still, it's a great short interlude at the near end of the album that works very well.

Overall, this album shows what Miguel does best, and leaves fans wanting more music, with the short tracklist. It's not only the best album musically from Miguel, but it is also the best album in terms of overall execution, as Miguel gives the world a gem that spawned two huge singles, one of which that will end up as an all time classic. Kaleidoscope Dream is as close to a modern day classic in R&B as possible.
Rating: 9/10

*Wildheart (2015)

-I feel this album is slept on. Heavily. It's actually my favorite Miguel album and I think it's more daring than any other album in his short catalog. This album is essentially his most eccentric project, taking a space age approach sonically, meshing funk, soul, and even rock sounds together for this album. Production wise, Salaam Remi, Happy Perez, and the usual suspect of frequent collaborators for Miguel are here. The sound throughout the album is special, and he crafts a number of gems on this project, employing the longest tracklist of his career (on the deluxe edition) with a total of 16 tracks (13 on the original). The result is a melting pot of music that showcases Miguel at his darkest yet most sly on "Deal" and "A Beautiful Exit", while having some of his smoothest tracks on this album in "Coffee" and "Flesh".

There are other great tracks like the Kurupt featured "NWA", the smooth "Waves", the rock tinged highlight "....going to hell", and "Leaves", and it's a surprise a lot of people didn't seem to like this album because it's a great listen overall and probably my favorite personally of all his work, but Kaleidoscope Dream is definitely the best and most concise. This comes very close however.
Rating: 8/10

*War & Leisure (2017)

-I can't lie... I'm a bit indifferent on this album. It's not bad at all. It's solid. It's just... It's safe. The album doesn't wow me, but it doesn't have to. It's not meant to I suspect. It has solid production, and some decent features, but it's by far the worst Miguel album IMO. I have listened to it only three times so far, but I found myself a bit disinterested halfway through. Rick Ross was unnecessary on "Criminal", and the song itself was just decent overall. I liked "Pineapple Skies" and I actually find "Sky Walker" to be catchy, but it all flows too familarily in a way. I think "Harem", "Wolf", and "Told You So" are enjoyable listens, and while the album is cohesive, it just lacks something. My favorite track is the Salaam Remi and J. Cole featured "Come Through And Chill", but admittedly, J. Cole and his 2nd verse seemed extremely unnecessary and confusing. I think that's the bigger issue here. Some of the songs have unnecessary bridges and guest appearances that weigh them down a little, but overall, this is a solid album. It isn't as good as his first three, and honestly not even close, but perhaps that's the fatal flaw of it. 

It doesn't compare to his others, but as a standalone album, it's solid enough for a listen.... it just doesn't inspire repeat listens minus two or three songs. Still, I encourage all to check War & Leisure to determine for yourself what you think of it.
Rating: 6.5/10

Miguel has a solid catalog and his new one can be seen as a miss, but honestly, there are glimpses of greatness even within that album. Overall, he remains a leading artist in this era and will likely stay that way for his next few albums. If you've never gave his music a listen, it's a must that you do so now. Miguel is one of the best in the genre. Simple as that.



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