Miguel is running behind schedule, and when I spot him enter his hotel lobby—the one in New York where everyone snaps the exact same neon escalator pic, I’m excited to begin. But he breezes past, hits that escalator with a huge suitcase, and disappears for an hour... and then some. As daylight wanes and we bet on whether we’ll pull off our late March outdoor photoshoot, I start to wonder if he’ll return—and which version of the electric R&B singer we’ll get when he does.

War & Leisure, the album he is currently on tour to support, has spawned four wildly different iterations: In “Told You So,” Miguel gives us dystopian Gene Kelly, joyfully dancing in a desert amid intense militarization. “Now” is a somber look inside the largest immigrant detention facility in California. Then there’s the hedonistic house party of “Sky Walker,” and the Miguel we’ve seen most often over the years—the cocksure lothario in “Come Through and Chill.”

When the South LA-reared artist finally descends the escalator, swallowed up in shiny leather pants that zip at the ankle and a graphic Stella McCartney button-up layered over a black hoodie, he is none of the above.

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