The last time you read an R&B review, it was for Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, which at the time was the best male R&B album out (but that really isn’t saying much), and yet here we are with Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream and another R&B review from me. Male R&B has been on the struggle side for a few years now. When you compare it to the late 90s-early 2000s, there’s really no comparison. I took to twitter a couple of weeks back to really find out who’s really the leaders in R&B. The consensus was: Frank Ocean, Miguel, Ne’Yo, Chris Brown (That boy is a Pop artist, and you can’t tell me anything), and Usher (although he’s more 90s/00s dominant).
There seems to be an up-rise in R&B, but it’ll take a while for it to get to the point where it used to be, if it will even get that far along. The Weeknd, the aforementioned Frank Ocean, JMSN, BJ The Chicago Kid, and Raheem DeVaughn are some examples of singers on the come up (that I know of, there could be more, I’m not the expert), and there’s a different vibe that they bring. Soul with an electric feel, and some of those elements were evident on Miguel’s album, and I must say that this is the best male R&B album this year. Yes, better than Channel Orange, and yes he made it look like a mixtape that you could have downloaded on DatPiff (people already said it wasn’t better than Nostalgia, Ultra, so why not). the reason why I say this is because Miguel brought soul and feel good content to the album and delivered with emphasis. But you know what, let me proceed to give you what you need (Twenty Twelve muthafu….you get the point).
Literally, right off the bat, the album starts off on a good note with Adorn. Now, I’m not going to lie, at first listen, I didn’t think much of the song, but I had to listen to it a couple of times to get into it, and it’s a pretty good song. It’s bouncy, and the lyrical content is on point (it helps that I heard a cover from my friend Chii beforehand). The love serenading commences, and it seems like it’ll only get better from here, but I really had no expectations for the album, although his first one wasn’t bad at all (All I Want Is You). It’s not very often that albums, especially male R&B albums, start off on a bouncy note. Usually it’s the mellow soft-mellowed Intro with some Usher/Keith Sweat/Drake simpage, but this was not the case. Good on you, Miguel.
I know I mentioned the likes of The Weeknd & JMSN (If you’ve never heard of JMSN, listen to him. I was put on by a fellow blogger – Shout out to Jason @ New Logos), but it you listen to them, you know that they have very distinctive styles. The futuristic & electronic vibe that is the “new R&B” is what the feel is these days and what is enticing to the audience listeners these days, unless you’re a lover of the old soul and the more classic R&B sound that is produced (some of that was expressed in Channel Orange). I say that because when listening to Don’t Look Back & Use Me, I got some hints of that in the lyrical content and the production. ‘Don’t Look Back’ is your typical “I don’t wanna hurt you, run away from me” type of song. We’ve heard those a lot (See: Kanye West’s Runaway) and pretty much it’s nothing new, but production was good and it’s at least listenable. As for ‘Use Me’, it seems like everyone wants to be a drug or at least pretend that they’re a drug. The Weeknd is a great example for emphasizing (heavily) his drug induced lyrics backed by his music that literally makes you ‘feel’ high (It’s something about these Toronto guys that people want to be like…or is that just my observation?), but that’s all I got from this song. But as much as I can make comparisons to Abel, Miguel does have stronger vocals. He used them well.
Do You is a good song. More drug wordplay and it plays with the idea with addiction. Nothing really special, but one thing I’ll point out is that this song, production wise, couldn’t make up its mind. The solo electric guitar with the small bass in the beginning was cool, then all of a sudden I’m engulfed with a raining fury of drums that just didn’t fit. I think it was too much for the song. It’s a cool song, but I just felt like it was all over the place with the beat, and honestly all I could hear was The Weeknd’s influence all over it. Sorry, but it’s seriously uncanny. It should have been just kept simple instead of being extra with the over abundance of drums.
I may be the only one who thought of this, but did anyone else start saying to themselves when they heard Kaleidoscope Dream, “Hi. My name is – What? My name is – Who? My name is -FIKIFIKI SLIM SHADY!” If I just ruined the song for you, I apologize, but that was the first thing that came to my head. But in all honesty, I like this song because of the vibe and although there wasn’t a great deal of lyrics, it was suitable for the song and it worked. Kaleidoscopes are those tubes we used to look through as kids in the sunlight and when you turn them, you have a whole bunch of colours and patterns show through.
The idea behind Kaleidoscopes are that there are mirrors inside that reflect the sunlight in order for those colours and designs move about like that. Think about Pink Floyd’s album cover for ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ with the Light and the Prism. The same rule applies.
So when Miguel is saying in this song with the lines,
Dreaming you, imagine a feel of red lights
They flicker them flashes
It draws you electric
He’s talking about the same thing I was just talking about in the previously explained paragraph. If it helps, this should explain the album cover, if you didn’t know already. This is probably my favourite song on the album, and the general consensus is that this song and ‘Use Me’ are the favourites as well, but let’s move forward.
The Thrill felt really Rihanna-esque to me. Not necessarily in the production, but the lyrical content. The thrill of getting high? The adrenaline rush of adventure? Spending time with someone getting lost in the world and living it up like we’re never going to see tomorrow? All signs point to Ri Ri, but that’s just me. It’s a cool song, but the song when I want it to be basic and simple like this one, it could have used the drums that ‘Do You’ had to spice things up, but it was still alright, but it wasn’t memorable. It’s a road trip type of song. Not my kind of road trip, but you get the idea when you visualize it.
How Many Drinks reminded me of ‘I’m Sprung’, because this is an anthem for the thirsty. Thirsty being the operative and emphasized word here. Liquid Confidence (Word to my boy Xavier) is the main cause of this song here. He’s persistent on getting the woman he wants to leave with him. Girl you look good, and I got money, but I don’t wanna waste my time. He literally just said, ‘Look…either you’re going to get with the program or I’m bouncing, but I’m not trying to be leaving here without you, so either way…how many drinks am I buying you?’ Plain, simple, and straight. to. the. POINT! You know how many guys are going to use this line on women at the club now? Plenty. Thanks, Miguel.
A lot of people kind of ‘side-eye’ when they hear Miguel singing about women because he looks ‘fruity’ and many don’t even believe that he’s straight (we all remember that whole Frank Ocean ordeal – I don’t need to get into detail), but music is music, it doesn’t matter what the sexuality is. Can I get an Amen? Church.
Now, speaking about Sex, things get heated during this portion of the album. Starting with Arch & Point (Arch your back, point your toes). He’s describing a sexual intercourse. What do I really have to explain here? It’s seductive, it’s lusty, it’s a female’s audible orgasm all in one. They appreciate that, and I’m sure their boyfriends do too (if that applies to them). Nothing wrong with a little bump & grind, R. Kelly taught us that. Miguel emphasized it here, but Arch & Point seems to be the 2012 version.
The cool thing about Pussy Is Mine besides the title is the way that the song starts. Sounds like it was just a total freestyle off the top of the head while playing on a guitar, so I give him points for creativity of the song. During sex, I’m sure questions are asked, and one of those questions are “Whose is it? Whose pussy is this?” The girl who Miguel is having sex with isn’t the type who’s on a one-dick contract, hence why he says in the first bar
Keep it One Hundred babe
We both know, I’m not the only one..
But when I’m there, you treat a nigga
And that’s probably why I always come
Miguel did it for the Mandem (Translation – he represented a lot of men who have been in similar positions as he is expressing in this song; I applaud) and this whole song is about him boasting his superiority in bed compared to the other dudes that have had sex with this girl (she gets around, word to Pac). This is like the ‘Pink Matter’ of the album (hate to draw comparisons, but that’s what how felt) and it’s a good song leading towards the finish of the album.
Candles In The Sun is a deep song, I can’t lie. Here’s why
Is there a god?
Is he watching?
Is she watching?
Are they watching up?
If not, what are we doing?
Where are we going?
What are we doing now?
WE NEED ANSWERS! People are always questioning the existence of the higher power that be, and the reason why is because look at how the world is with the poverty, the violence, the government plotting the downfall of the people – there’s a lot of wrong in the world, and if there is a ‘God’, why does ‘It’ allow these things to happen? Hmm…good questions, Miguel. Good questions. I have to give him a big shout out, because I’ve never heard an R&B artist make a reference to Biggie’s ‘Kick In The Door’ ever in my life, and it fell within the same context of the song relating to drugs & crime. Best song on the album as far as I’m concerned.
Where’s The Fun In Forever has a dope beat, and that’s probably as much as I can say about it, because it was repetitive as hell, and Alicia Keys really just came in at the ass end of it all, for what reason? We’ll never know. Might as well not have shown up on the song in the first place, but I liked the song. The saying “Tomorrow is never promised” is annoying to hear because we all know it, so to hear it repeatedly on a song…increased annoyance. It’s positive, it’s upbeat, and it’s a fitting end for this album since it started off on a bouncy note to begin with.
I liked this album because it brought a collection of vibes like R&B albums should. Channel Orange is a good album, and the theme around it was good, but Miguel had no interludes, no loosely produced songs that just felt thrown together, and his songs were at good lengths with good lyrical content. Not saying Frank didn’t have any, but Miguel ‘s album hit with more soul and the delivery was on point. Is it a classic? No. Is it something that you should listen to? Yes. I find that even people who don’t regularly listen to R&B will find this enjoyable. It’s feel good music. This is me, this is my opinion, but for now
That’s My Word & It STiXX