K. Michelle is one of the most polarizing divas in modern R&B. The Memphis-born babe’s blunt manor and general lack of fucks (as evidenced on hit reality TV show Love & Hip Hop) won her a large and very loyal following but also made the 30-year-old a magnet for all kinds of online drama. As a result, the soul siren’s excellent debut LP Rebellious Soul didn’t get the critical acclaim it deserved but that didn’t stop the album vastly exceeding sales expectations.
And she has her sights set even higher for mysteriously-titled sophomore set AWBAH. K. recently dropped by the Idolator office in Los Angeles to chat about the album’s killer lead single “Love ‘Em All” and her move towards a broader pop sound. She also revealed that she’s revisiting her country roots (it was her first love) on a high-profile duet and spoke openly about ongoing beefs with Lil’ Kim and Iggy Azalea. See some snippets below:
Are you going more pop on this album?
K. Michelle: I’m always pre-judged from the gate, from Love & Hip Hop. You have to do what you have to do to get where you need to be. But musically, I can play classical piano, I can play guitar and I can sight read music. I grew up around music. My vocal coach was Bob Westbrook, who trained Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. So I grew up yodeling — that was his thing.
I’ve always been diverse in music. My first love was country. The last album was kind of a glorified mixtape — I was so angry and aggressive. But this time, I needed a new vibe. So with “Love ‘Em All” I wanted to be innovative and progressive.
What can you tell us about the new album?
I merged a lot of genres. I have a country record with a big country artist on it — it’s called “God, I Get It”. It’s an amazing record. People are going to be really shocked. I want people to know that I don’t fuck around with music. You don’t have to like me, but you’re going to respect me as an artist. That album is global album, and it’s really exciting.
Please explain your album title. What does AWBAH mean?
It’s an acronym and it’s the name of the album. I started tweeting it before I even started recording the album. We’re actually shooting a mini-movie to announce the title. Everything is going to be super-creative this time and perfect. You’ll see the meaning behind it and why it’s called that, and you’ll get the day of the release and the album title in about three weeks.
You have several beefs going on. What’s the deal with Lil’ Kim?
I remember when R. Kelly first met me, he became my mentor. He always said, ‘they’re gonna get you.’ He said, ‘You’re really talented and you have a big mouth and you’re opinionated.’ I kind of understand it now. I really feel like I’m one of the few female artists who actually say anything. It kind of excites me a little bit, I give them hell!
There’s no real beef with Lil’ Kim. I’m kind of a comedian, I can talk about a situation and make you laugh. But I was just saying how great Nicki Minaj was, Nicki has always been very nice to me. At the VMA’s, I was just happy to see Nicki so I said, ‘Yay, the queen of rap!’ Nobody is thinking about you girl, the VMAs are on!
So I was looking at Nicki, and looking at Jessie J up there singing. Her fans just attacked me, they started to talk about my child. So when they got on my child, that’s when I said ‘fuck you Lil Kim fans.’ And then she hopped in it. Don’t come for me unless I send for you. I did not ask you, you have my phone number so text me. So once you start me, I have to stop myself — YOU can’t! And that’s all.