Kelly Rowland - Here I Am

Kelly Rowland
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Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland is growing up before our very eyes. Now embracing thirty, she is making some drastic changes in her career after dropping her longtime manager Mathew Knowles. Of all the extravagant transformations documenting her third studio album Here I Am (including a shift to Universal Motown), the most obvious and drastic one of them all is the overhaul of her previous album producers in exchange for a new slate with electro-dance wiz David Guetta and hip-hop giant Rodney Jerkins now in place. Rowland sounds like a woman now comfortable with using her swagger and sex appeal as she encloses herself in an environment overdosed with club-throttled uptempos and dreamy R&B. On the album’s club-ready opener “I’m That Chick,” she brags about her womanhood with adrenaline-rushing aggression (“How you know?/Told you so”) while the funky beats pound with the swiftness craving for a Nicki Minaj cameo.

Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland is growing up before our very eyes. Now embracing thirty, she is making some drastic changes in her career after dropping her longtime manager Mathew Knowles. Of all the extravagant transformations documenting her third studio album Here I Am (including a shift to Universal Motown), the most obvious and drastic one of them all is the overhaul of her previous album producers in exchange for a new slate with electro-dance wiz David Guetta and hip-hop giant Rodney Jerkins now in place. Rowland sounds like a woman now comfortable with using her swagger and sex appeal as she encloses herself in an environment overdosed with club-throttled uptempos and dreamy R&B. On the album’s club-ready opener “I’m That Chick,” she brags about her womanhood with adrenaline-rushing aggression (“How you know?/Told you so”) while the funky beats pound with the swiftness craving for a Nicki Minaj cameo. The cool R&B stays afloat on “Work It Man,” a radio-ready offering that feels like a crossbreed of Mariah Carey’s “Together” and Rihanna’s “Rude Boy.” Standing at attention is “Motivation,” which follows the (seminal) blueprint of Home Wreckin Cru’s 1988 slow jam, “Turn Off The Lights.” Here, the beats cleverly circulate around Dr. Dre’s seductive patterns and Michele’s sexy DNA from the old school slow burner. Lil Wayne—using the same hustle he’s been using on every song looking to break the Top 40—tries to nab the song from Rowland’s grasp, but Rowland keeps her cooing pleasantries on deck.

It’s pleasant to hear Rowland picking up on sounds outside of her earlier conventions, with Guetta’s disco-pop “Commander” and RedOne’s “Down for Whatever.” The deluxe edition unveils a few prouder moments for Rowland, including the Ne-Yo-produced ballad “Heaven & Earth” and a Nelly-guested remix of “Commander.” On her third full-length disc, Rowland actually sounds like she doesn’t need Bey and her accessories to boost her confidence. Sure, in places she sounds like she’s trying to morph into her big sister (“All Of The Night,” “Feelin’ Me Right Now”). But, on this round Rowland is embraced with her strongest collections of songs yet, putting her in close proximity with her biggest competition.

Notable Songs:  “Motivation,” “Turn It Up,” “Work It Man”
Vocals: 3.0 stars
Lyrics: 3.0 stars
Music: 3.0 stars
Production: 3.0 stars

SoulTracks Call: Recommended

By J Matthew Cobb

 

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