Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?
To casual listeners, Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? may sound like a total detour for K. Michelle. Such a verdict means one of two things: You haven’t been listening to K. Michelle very long, or if you have, you haven’t been paying close enough attention. As lovingly brash and vulgar as K. Michelle is, she’s always offered hints that she can be subtle. There are differences in terms of sound and tone, but ultimately, this is K. Michelle giving her softer side equal time.
The album does begin with some familiar terrain: K. Michelle singing about people being upset with her for saying the things they’re only thinking, and fuck them for that because only God can judge her.
Even if the subject matter seems standard (defiantly defensive), the theatrics of “Judge Me” make it the perfect opener. Its follow-up and the album’s first single, “Love ’Em All” remains equally the best introduction to the K. Michelle of 2014. Is a misandrist response to Chris Brown’s misogynistic “Loyal” sort of tit-for-tat? Maybe, though for years now R&B men have demeaned women in a genre traditionally about lifting them up in love. Who can blame K. Michelle for yelling a fuck you right back?
There is also noticeable bite in “Cry” as K. Michelle sings, “Feels so damn good to be cold, and I don’t even care if you know,” but it’s very much a country music-esque kiss-off. The other country-inspired standout, “God I Get It,” sounds like something the Country Music Awards would adore. Then again, Lionel Richie had a commercially successful country album and well...never mind.
As lovingly brash and vulgar as K. Michelle is, she’s always offered hints that she can be subtle.
When it comes to other new terrain for the Memphis native, one of my favorites is “Something About the Night.” Whereas many of her contemporaries are now chasing the goodness that is 1990s R&B, K. Michelle ventures back to some of the funk-lite fun of even earlier decades. K. Michelle said Anita Baker raved about when the legendary vocalist visited her during the recording of this album. I wonder if “Something About the Night” was the song she gushed about most. In my mind, Anita poured herself a glass of K.’s preferred brand of brown liquor and told her, “Gon’ and scat at this part, baby.”
Or maybe Anita’s favorite is the AWBAH’s second single, “Maybe Should I Call.” K. Michelle confirmed that the song, and the album at large, is about her past relationship with Idris Elba, but such a tidbit is trivial. What matters is that it is one of the strongest R&B singles released this year. Equally breathtaking is the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League-produced “Miss You, Goodbye,” a song that showcases how much more fluid a vocalist K. Michelle is.
Given the artist in question, the ridiculous has to be represented. On “Drake Would Love Me,” K. Michelle sings: "Drake wouldn't leave me, he would keep me, never break his promises/I'd be the best he ever had, he'd be on his best behavior." So many Southern-based strippers are going to suck their teeth at such folklore. Jezebel’s Kara Brown described the song as “musical fan fiction.” Apt, though K. Michelle’s voice is in fantastic form here—no matter how fanatical she sounds.
For so long K. Michelle has had to shout to prove her worth as a singer and musician. Now that she’s netted great success, she’s been allotted creative freedom. She surely made the most of if.
Despite ABWAH not packing as hard a punch as we’re used to hearing from K. Michelle, she’s never been more impactful. It is an excellent album, and while it may have taken her longer than she’d like to make this known, it cannot be denied any longer: K. Michelle is leaps and bounds ahead of many of her peers. I am more excited than ever to see what she comes up with next.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.