Ms. Kelly shows off her street pedigree alongside Pusha T
It’s easy to root for Kelly Rowland. The former Destiny’s Child member has played the role of overshadowed bridesmaid to Beyoncé’s domineering queen bride for more than a decade. Even after achieving breakthrough solo success with the Lil Wayne-assisted “Motivation” and a much publicized run as a judge on Simon Cowell’s UK version of the singing competition The X Factor, the underdog beauty has not been one to hide her feelings concerning her complicated relationship with Bey-Bey. Yet if Rowland hopes to finally get from under the behemoth shadow of Shawn Carter’s better half, knocking out a few more curious numbers like “Street Life” just may do the trick.
This is a departure from the performers’ past lovable sex kitten ditties (her latest being the cutesy “Kisses Down Low”). The Pharrell-produced track gives a clear-eyed view into everyday happenings in the ‘hood. There’s little glorification on the quirky, funked-up “Street Life,” which details a familiar setting where chasing fast money takes precedence over self-improvement. “We like to go to school for education/But the street life we know don’t write no notes/It’s like parole with the time we’re facing,” admits an a matter-of-fact Rowland, who is in fine, sassy singing form. “Ain’t nobody ‘gon help…” This is not a woe-is-me proclamation. Pusha T’s guest verse makes that point (“This is for my niggas with them four baby mamas…this Presidential Rollie don’t make me Obama/so don’t judge me by my jewelry, please your honor.”). This—in the immortal words of brother Stevie—is living for the city, as Rowland profoundly states, “Ain’t shit ‘round here funny.” But the joke may be on those who continue to underestimate Ms. Kelly. Indeed, the girl may just have the last laugh. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)