Following the breakup of Destiny’s Child, many probably wouldn’t have expected to see Kelly Rowland delivering her fourth solo studio album, Talk a Good Game , with a major record label. She hasn’t reached the success of fellow bandmate Beyonce, but many artists would be more than happy to claim her successes and achievements.
Being constantly overshadowed by Beyonce is the subject of the second single off the album, “Dirty Laundry”. It’s a touching song, and it works so well because it’s so personal. Artists like Adele are applauded for writing songs on subject matters that everyone can relate to, and there’s no doubt that some do it phenomenally. Yet those topics are easily worn out as endless songs about cheating boyfriends and promiscuous girls float around. Yes, while we’ve all experienced the feeling of jealousy and feeling overshadowed, the song is filled with personal anecdotes that only Kelly and those involved will truly be able to relate to. The second half of the song, for example, is all about the abuse Rowland suffered within a relationship, something that’s ironically overshadowed by the subject of Beyonce. Because of the heavily personal element, the song is a painful reminder that artists are real people, with real feelings, and in Rowland’s own words: “I swear y’all don’t know the half of this industry.”
All envy of Beyonce seems to be put aside in the following song, which is a mini Destiny’s Child reunion as it features both Beyonce and Michelle. The song captures the character of the strong, independent woman that Destiny’s Child famously promoted. The other featured names on the album are equally as impressive, coming from Wiz Khalifa, Pusha T, The Dream, and Kevin Cossom, who has written for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Keri Hilson. Given this impressive lineup, none of the songs utilize their features as well as they could. They all seem a little lacking in something special, as if the artists were placed there just to give the album some more credit. Either the feature is good but far too short to have a real impact, as seen in “Street Life” featuring Pusha T, or it simply fails to enhance the song in any way.
While Pusha T may not have enhanced the song, the song would be nothing at all if it wasn’t for producer Pharrell Williams. He also produced the final song of the non deluxe version, “Stand in Front of Me”, which sees Rowland really slotting herself into the classic R&B box, as opposed to the more mainstream R&B seen in the charts. It’s here where Rowland can find her niche, and while it may give her less exposure to the general public, it would allow her to stand out in her own field.
The first single, “Kisses Down Low”, is a steamy song produced by Mike WiLL Made It, one of the hottest producers around right now. The song doesn’t really do justice to either the producer or the artist. People forget that Kelly has an outstanding voice, something which barely comes through in this song, and as for Mike WiLL Made It, he is not considered the hottest producer for nothing, but this song does nothing to show what he’s capable of. Of course Rowland is not expected to produce stunning vocals on every single song, and certainly for this song it probably wouldn’t work, but still, one’s mouth waters at the thought of a collaboration between these two when they’re both hitting towards their strengths.
Talk a Good Game is by no means brilliant, but it’s really not as bad as people may expect. Given that the original lead single featuring Lil Wayne underperformed to the extent that it was removed from the album, and the replacement lead single peaked at 72 on the Billboard Hot 100, I’m sure expectations may have been low. The album, however, is a solid body of work—albeit with some questionable filler song—but it’s hard to pinpoint something which makes the album stand out and gives it the spark it needs to allow Kelly to separate herself from the countless other female R&B artists out there.
- Gone (feat. Wiz Khalifa) SoundCloud