Following several career setbacks, the R&B singer tells BET.com she’s on a new path.
With the changing of the guard at Jive Records, the company recently merged with Epic Records as L.A. Reid takes over as chairman, BET Music Matters alum K. Michelle is embracing the fresh start at her label. The 25 year old R&B songstress sat down with BET.com to discuss her new attitude, new music and a recent issue with a popular entertainment blogger.
BET.com: How have you been? What’s going on? How does it feel to be K. Michelle right now?
K. Michelle: To be K. Michelle is very interesting, that's all I can say. K. Michelle is in a really awkward place as an artist and as a woman. As a woman the things that I used to like I don't like anymore. The food I used to eat I don't eat anymore. And even as an artist the songs I used to sing I don't want to sing anymore.
So what’s been the cause for your musical change?
Growth. I think taking the time to actually work with R. Kelly and different people. And really just taking in the music. I always felt that I was very musical, but that it got dumbed down a lot. Now I'm just really creative and open. And I am the happiest I've been in my career and in my life.
Has the experience of dealing with the ups and downs of the music industry impacted your change in focus?
It's like finding out Santa Claus isn't real. When you're a little girl you look at things differently. But when you actually get into the field you find out that things you thought are not as they are. It was painful. To just realize the politics of the game and to realize that just because you're talented doesn't mean they [radio] are going to play your music. Or just because you have a message doesn't mean they [radio] are going to help you get it out. I think it was painful, but I think that now I am over that hump, this artist that I am now just knows that it is what it is and you have to roll with the punches and get it done.
Did it bother you when you were compared to Mary J. Blige or Keyshia Cole?
It didn't bother me. Those women have so many records. I love Mary J. Blige. And I have a great respect for Keyshia. I think the problem lies with me is when my label tries to soak that up so much and really make me become that. But I don't listen to a lot of R&B music, if I'm being honest. I listen to Rascal Flatts and Green Day and a lot of different things that people wouldn’t even think that I listen to. So for me I started to combine that in my music. I feel pain is pain no matter what the gender, genre or race. So that's when it becomes a problem. When they try to do the blueprint for Keyshia Cole. Make me the blueprint for Mary and the different things that I wanted to do were getting shut down because it wasn't what they did. So that bothered me. But you know those are strong women so it’s cool.
How do you go about getting around those stereotypes that people and the industry project on you?
I feel like the only way to combat the box they try and put you in is being who you are with no regrets. And that's exactly what I'm going to do for those who say ‘K is too wild,’ or ‘K curses!’ I am K. And I am doing everything my way. And the only way to make a change is to just do it.
You’re a former BET Music Matters artist. How has performing changed over the past two years for you? Or has it?
It has changed greatly. When you first saw me I was singing what I wanted to sing. But now I have to sing what my label puts out. So it’s become a job. Performing has become a job, now. It's a different thing when you get on stage and singing what you feel. But when you're singing what you're forced to sing it’s a different thing. So what I now try to do with my show is to incorporate the songs for the women that have grown with me, but introduce them to other things as well.
Tell us about the "How Many Times" video?
That video was the first video that I really went in creatively on what I wanted to do. I think that our culture is really hard on us. People asking, ‘Why isn't there a man in the video?’ or, ‘why is she..’ because it doesn't have to be about a man all the time. Maybe I didn't want a man. Maybe I just wanted to creatively fall out in the street because I was going through everything. I'm not sure if you know but there's no more Jive. It's a merger. And all of us artists are being placed on different labels at this time. So as far as my album, as far as different things I have absolutely no idea. I am just as much in the dark as my fans. So as far as that song being my single, far as that being different things, I have a whole new staff. I will probably have a whole new album. It's not a bad thing. It's just getting your home and getting settled and unpacked in your home. I'm considering everything I did with Jive as artist development, which labels don't do anymore. And people are starting to pick up on me. So now I'm ready to be who I want to be. And not waver from it.
No one can say that you are above controversy. You took to your Twitter page blasting celebrity blogger Necole Bitchie over accusations she doesn't support you or your music. What happened exactly?
You know what? My management and myself and Necole are supposed to sit down and talk. I was told that a lot of blocking of my music was happening. And not just from one person, but several people. I had people reach out to Necole to try and inquire why she was blocking posts about me and she wouldn't respond. So me just being me I felt the need to come like a woman and say I don't play these games. When you block the way I eat you block the way my child eats. So I just wanted to say it. You know I get on Twitter and say how I feel, but it also isn't the proper way to do things. I'm not condoning that behavior all the time. That's just the ghetto in me I have to learn to tame. But I'm honest. So that's the thing. I don't have any beef. I wish woman much success on her blog. But don't — if she did or if she didn't, we don't know the truth — either way if she's reading don't block nothing that I have going on because I have a son that needs to eat.
Do you feel like there is still a large disconnect between bloggers and artists?
Blogs can be good and bad. Even if a blogger has a comment about you and they come from their opinion. You can't get mad at their opinion. They still gave you the exposure and the stage to show your talents. So I don't hate blogs. Even if they have bad things to say about me. It doesn't bother me because you are presenting me for the world to judge. That's just one opinion. Just post things that matter sometimes. You can post the drama you have to keep your ratings up. It's just like me being a singer. Sometimes I have to sing a radio record just so I can get radio exposure. Bloggers post stuff that's controversial to get people to their site. My problem is when it's not blended. And when they don't say positive things within it. As an artist we know our job, and know what we signed up, so when we go and do some dumb sh*t you're supposed to be put out there. But at the same time when artists do positive stuff that shouldn't be overlooked either.
We’ll keep that in mind.
(Photo: Greg Campbell/Getty Images for The Get Schooled Foundation)