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39 Minutes With K. Michelle

39 Minutes With K. Michelle

39 Minutes With K. Michelle
Chase Landin/MNRK Music Group

Out got the chance to speak with the icon about her final R&B album I'm the Problem, reflecting on her time on Love & Hip-Hop, her thoughts on social media, and so much more.

As I UBER’d to the SLS hotel, before I played K. Michelle’s albums, I decided to get myself in a calm space and I zoned out a bit to “Good Days” by SZA because I was still in awe that I was getting ready to interview one of my favorite artists in the entire world.

K. Michelle is easily one of the most creative and talented singers of the modern era. Five albums, 13 television credits, and millions of fans under her belt, this country gyal continues to be a problem in this industry, so it’s only fitting her new album is entitled I’m The Problem.

Seated face-to-face in the lobby at the SLS hotel with two champagne glasses on both of our ends, with the Rebellious Soul singer looking beautiful in a bedazzled red dress that hugged her in all the right places, we discussed our first official meeting back in New York during her listening session back in July.

“We had a good time and I’m glad your momma had a good time, too,” she began as we cheered our glasses and began the conversation.

Her listening session was different than most, only having her fans, her team, and limited press within the space. I was curious as to why she preferred this setup instead of the usual listening sessions artists have with multiple studio executives lending their ear to the artists’ project.

“No executives helped me for real, besides maybe one and that would be Shari Bryant who is the co-president at Roc Nation,” she explained. “Other than that, my fans have been there to pull me through and help me eat. It’s really about them. I’m not going to be that super popular pop princess as that’s not my calling – I’m like the People’s Champ. It’s about the people that support me.”

The 41-year-old vocalist never shies away from engaging with her fans with her active Twitter presence and the personal bond she sets out to make when meeting the people who enjoy her artistry.

Out: A lot of artists are now beginning to set boundaries with their fans, with Doja Cat recently letting fans know she doesn’t love them and putting out music because she loves creating, not necessarily for fans' approval. How do you make sure to embrace your fans while also putting boundaries in place?

K. Michelle: I mean, my fans are my fans, so I don’t understand not liking your fans. Artists tend to get so big to where they think God didn’t help them or their team didn’t have a hand in their success. I like to yell ‘I did this,’ but it still takes a team effort. If you don’t have fans, what do you have? I don’t play them games. My fans have no boundaries and they are very entitled. They fight with me if they don’t get what they want (laughs). They are like family to me. I see them like cousins. They have provided for me, they maintained and helped me pay for my child’s college as well.

How is it being a mom while being on the road? How has the relationship with your son evolved?

My son is my best friend. I made sure my child was never in the public eye as I never played around about that. He never wanted to be famous and he doesn’t care about that. He wants to get it on his own despite me being offended [laughs]. People ask me for things other than my own child. Some things people ask me for my own child that they don’t even ask me for.

I have to ask or the fans would kill me. In your “V.S.O.P.” music video, there’s a move that you do where your back is turned to the mic and you do this dance where you’re putting your hands up and shaking your booty. The fans want to know whose idea was it for you to do that?

Aisha Francis choreographed the music video. She had me doing that and the fact that y’all took that like why would y’all put that on TikTok? [laughs]. It’s been a whole year and fans are still running with it on TikTok. I didn’t even realize this was a thing until I realized it was trending on TikTok. Aisha be killing it and her body is amazing. She tore that up.

So did you, that’s why you’re going viral!

Ty, leave me alone [laughs].

Social media is an outlet for everyone, including artists, to let loose and be their raw, authentic selves. You’re no stranger when it comes to speaking your mind. Are you ever hesitant before you hit that publish button when saying something that may get the folks ready to ‘tussle?’

No, I have been quiet for five years so right now, I don't care what I say. We’re just going to go forward and hit send. My team right here next to us, Jeff, Eugene, Tasha, we’re going to hit send on whatever I want to say and see how it blows up. I’m not being quiet about anything and I’m saying whatever I want to say so let’s see what happens [laughs].

I’ve watched how people told me I was too much and I’ve seen girls come in and do all types of nasty, disgusting stuff like sucking d*ck. I’ve watched the groupie behavior. It’s one thing to be authentic, it’s another thing to be talentless and have hoe-ism. I’m going to say what I want to say, do what I want to do, be free, and be myself. No brakes, all gas.

Before we get into the new music, I want to touch on your past projects. Specifically, an album that we all feel didn’t get enough love like it should’ve due to the pandemic: All Monsters Are Human. You were not only vulnerable, but you teased us a bit showcasing your country chips with "Just Like Jay." In the opening track, you shared you didn’t even want to do this album. What headspace were you in at the time that almost made you not create one of the best R&B albums in the modern era?

It was such a blur with that album. I personally feel my best R&B album was Anybody Want to Buy a Heart? and I’m about to remake it. I own all of the rights, so I’m about to redo it with producers Blush and Ronnie and I’ll probably start that actually in the next three weeks. I’m rerecording and adding a verse to the tracks. Those two albums were a blur, but really great. They did well, but I think I was so caught up in fame and money, I didn’t pay attention that I was still making great music.

It’s amazing to hear people say how much they love my music. I was just sitting with [Terrell Brown] for The Terrell Show and he asked me why I paid More Issues Than Vogue dust and here you go talking about All Monsters Are Human. Those two albums might be, in total, some of my best work but not critically acclaimed.

Well, I loved those two albums. Even your album Kimberly: The People I Used to Know is so good. Especially the record "Rounds."

Funny, I actually didn’t want the song "Rounds." [Prince Charlez] wrote the record and it was the sound that R&B is at now, but at the time, I didn’t want to switch the sound. It was this new sound and A&R Chris Jones kept telling me this is the sound of R&B and even said this was supposed to be my single for that album. I fought against it.

Reverting back to your album, All Monsters Are Human, your lead single "Just Like Jay" was so powerful. ‘Y’all don’t love me anyway, maybe I should walk away and fade to black, just like Jay…’ Those lyrics were so powerful and you can feel the emotion in your voice. Do you still feel the same way now?

Yes, because we never give our Black people their credit until their death. People will say how much they rocked with K, but will do so once that person is gone. People take people for granted. It’s so crazy for me to go to country and they show me more respect in that market than my own people. I made it up in my mind I wasn’t going to fight my people and sing anymore. I won’t fight my people on what’s already been done because if I’m going to fight, it’s going to be about something historic for my people.

That makes me happy, yet sad at the same time.


There are so many monsters in today’s world who happen to be human. In your opinion, how should these monsters be dealt with?

That’s why I named the album All Monsters Are Human... because there’s no difference between a villain and a hero. They both have an end goal. How you get there is how you choose between your perception and your reality because everyone has a cause.

For me, I love the Joker and I think he’s the best villain of all time. I will watch Joker movies for inspiration when writing my music. In the Joker movie I was watching today, he told Batman ‘You’re still a freak. You’re a freak to anybody. And when they can’t use you anymore, they will throw you to the side.’ I heard this guy speak and he say there’s no difference between a hero and a villain because they are going to get to their goal by any means necessary.

If you’re going to label me a villain, I’m going to be the best villain you’ve ever seen. I’ll be your nightmare.

I’m enjoying this nightmare so let’s cheers to that, K.

Cheers! [laughs]

You had a record called "Ciara’s Prayer," a great standout track. What’s K’s prayer?

For this record, I wondered what Ciara is doing because I looked up to how Ciara never looks backwards. She continues to move forward all the time. She keeps her aesthetic and she keeps it classy and is always well put together.

I’ve always admired Ciara. She was the first artist to tell me something about my life. We were at East High School in Memphis and I had just got signed. I don’t know what she was going through or what day it was, but she walked up to me and said, ‘When you win, everybody wins. But when you lose, you lose alone.’

I’ll never forget what that lady said that to me. I was shocked. She was pissed, it was nothing for her to walk up to me, hug me, and deliver that message. I don’t play about Ciara, and I will beat you up when it comes to her. For that record specifically, I just loved how her life went.

I second that. I don’t play about her either. The new album is titled I’m The Problem. Why the name? Are you saying you’re the problem?

I want to end on a big bang and say what I want to say. I would never be done with R&B. I may put out a record that’s R&B on a Wednesday, but I’ll own it. So I wanted to say ‘I’m the problem’ because I’ll be a problem if I’m happy or if I’m sad. A solution to it is just being the problem, as long as you can live with your problem.

You had a great single called "Wherever the D May Land.’"The message is fun and basically letting these dudes and chicks know it’s never that serious. What’s the best way to deal with a chick who thinks you want ‘her man?

I need to promote that actually [laughs]. I don’t think any woman thinks I want her man and I don’t think I have to live in that because I don’t care about no man like that. Not to be fighting with you. A man is gonna do what he wants to do. You can have the best head, the best sex, you can be rich or bad… the man is still going to be evil and the devil. Let him be the devil in hell and let him figure it out [laughs].

As you said that, I feel like this red dress you have on is so on-brand with that answer [laughs].

Chile, this red dress is all I had [laughs].

If there was any celebrity d*ck of your choosing that could land in your hand for one night, who would you love it to be?

Ooooh chile! Everybody I wanted to land on me, I landed [laughs]. I done landed, smashed, and passed baby, you can never say I ain’t do that because I did it all and I did it [laughs]. I also did it well.

Let’s talk about these young boys! Their jeans too tight and they’re too emotional. If I had to say, I don’t think there’s anyone that is like ‘oooh.’

It is slim pickings, so I understand.

I’d say [Chief Keef]. I like him.

I noticed that you love giving newer, lesser-known artists shine on your projects like Gloss Up on this record. What do you look for in fresh talent?

I love talent. It doesn’t matter to me. For Gloss Up, she’s talented. There’s this white guy rapper from Memphis… he’s not signed but he’s talented, so I’ll have to figure that out. I don’t want no artist to sign with me, but I’m going to think about how to get him a deal. He’s amazing.

I always talk to people before they blow up. For instance, Mac Miller, I remember taking Mac Miller to Juicy J and then they ended up being labelmates. I remember [Kirby] and seeing her showcase, taking my lawyer to her, and now she signed to Roc Nation. She’s writing for Beyoncé. They initially didn’t want to sign her because she had a white suit on, like dumb sh*t like that.

I love seeing new talent. I just sent my management some boys who are reminiscent of New Edition and I’m not sure why they haven’t signed these boys. They are some R&B boys and they finna go.

You should probably have a career in A&R.

I really should. I asked Ronnie, my producer, about that a couple of weeks ago. He said, ‘Why would I sign those boys to the label and not sign them to myself?’ But I don’t want the headache. Artists are crazy. I don’t want to live like that, but I do want to get them signed. I did the deal with Maliibu Mitch at Atlantic Records. I just want artists to be signed, but don’t call me [laughs].

You had a great record called "Drake Would Love Me.’"What type of lover do you think Drake is?

I can’t stand Drake [laughs]. Nah, he’s cool. I actually did that record before even knowing him. Drake is a cool guy and about his business. I did that record because everybody wanted to be with Drake and I wanted to make a great Disney record, like he’s the hero. He’s a good guy. I loved the wordplay and it was a great, written record. I’m going to listen to it tonight.

Not you having all these good records and you not listening to them frequently.

I don’t listen to my albums once they're down. I don’t listen to myself at all. [Prince] said, ‘You take a record and you don’t go back.’ You don’t babysit records. Every time I listen to a record I did, it takes me back to a moment and what I went through. Nobody wants to go back and be reminded of how bad they felt.

Love & Hip Hop was a great vehicle for you to promote your projects and your albums. Do you feel like you were able to successfully share the story you wanted to share on that platform?

Yeah, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I still don’t rock with those people but I feel like, as far as Mona and Stephanie, those are my people forever and their family. As far as the situation, it happened.

What’s your favorite moment of yours during your time on the show?

I wouldn’t say a favorite, but I’ll say everything you saw there was me. I was very blessed, and Mona was managing me, so I got to show different moments of me. I wouldn’t take that away.

Would you ever do reality television again?

Yep, but a certain type of reality television.

Love & Hip Hop made stars out of you, and Cardi B, and even Joseline Hernandez. Are there any other members you feel had star potential outside of the series?

I love Cardi, and I had my Joseline moments because she’s funny. I think the rest of them are just losers.

What’s one of your favorite records that you have coming up on the new album? Can we expect any collaborations?

"Blame Yourself" is one of my favorites and "Hurt Sh*t." The last two albums were made in my house… sitting, drinking, and being pissed. Those were some of my best records.

One collaboration the fans have been wanting for years is something between you and Keyshia Cole. You teased in 2021 a possible EP together. Where are we with that or even musically between you two?

It’s her. I don’t have anything to do with that. Anytime we get into it, she gets mad and acts in different types of ways. I don’t care, I love her. I love her, it ain’t no thang there, and I don’t ever hold up the business. She holds up the business. I love her songs, we hung out a lot of times, and it is what it is. You probably ain’t gon get that collab. You have a better chance between me and Dolly Parton [laughs].

There’s so much fresh R&B talent nowadays. If you could take any of them under your wing and be like a mentor to them, who would it be and why?

You know who I love? Layton Greene and Jozzy. Jozzy is really K. Michelle. She just reached out and I really need to take some time with them. Layton is very respectful and so is Jozzy, so I need to get some studio time and sit with them.

Your mixtapes were so good. What was the process for you when it came to your mixtapes versus creating your albums?

My mixtapes were probably better than my albums [laughs]. My mixtapes, I just don’t care and I just go. I just make music. There are no expectations on sales, just straight music.

One of my favorite records was "Kiss My Ass."

That was the record that got me a deal. I did perform it on the last tour.

You’re very business-savvy, like your deals with Jack Daniels and your restaurant. You even spoke about launching a home lifestyle and home decor company. Can you share with us where we are business-wise and how you manage a full plate?

Business-wise, my other restaurant is about to open, and I have a cookware line that’s coming out soon. People hop into things because they can. For me, I want to do home decor, food, and launch my products and restaurants at the same time. I have another drink about to come out and I know how to get y’all drunk [laughs]. I know for a fact its gon eat and it’s a great product, so I know it’s great.

R&B isn’t as appreciated as it was once according to a lot of folks as they continue to champion the 1990s and 2000s. While you have great success now, do you think you would’ve achieved a different type of success if you were back in those times as an artist?

Oooh, that’s a good question. I think I came out when I was supposed to, unless I came out through Motown. I remember when R. Kelly always called me Tammy. I thought it was so weird, so I asked him why he kept calling me that and he would say I was like Tammi Terrell. I kept on studying her and how she looked so strikingly like Taraji P. Henson. I would’ve done great in Motown.

A frequent collaborator of yours is Jason Derulo. Every time you both are on a track together, it’s like magic. Can you describe the chemistry between the two of you?

I love Jason. I actually need him for the country album, you just put something in my head. Me and Jason are friends. We’ve slept in the same bed together just exhausted from music, but it’s strictly platonic. We watch television and eat Jack In The Box.

I don’t think people know how many no. 1 songs he has and I don’t think people realize how ‘urban’ he can be. People don’t understand who he is and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves in our culture because he literally is a pop king and is Black. He’s a businessman and one of the richest, smartest Black businessmen in the game. Stop playing with Jason. He literally lives in a castle.

Me and Jason actually got into a fight because he wouldn’t let a llama live in his house. I bought the llama. I wanted a pink llama and it was on its way to his house so he’s gonna tell me it couldn’t come. I bust in the studio and it was a whole fight about the llama. He said he didn’t know I was really bringing the llama so the fight about the llama was real. I was not f*cking around with him about this llama. It was a real, emotional fight. I lost it. Hitmaka was there, I acted a fool. I felt so played. It had nowhere to go so I’ve been determined to find a place for my animals. We’re friends and I forgave him about that. We moved past it.

What would you say is your favorite track that you’ve created?

"Sometimes" on the Rebellious Soul album. I would also say "Maybe I Should Call." It’s rare the first song you make for an album makes the album, but that was the first song I did for Anybody Want to Buy a Heart? I thought it was nothing but I remember sending it over to management and they liked it.

Favorite albums in order.

1. Anybody Want to Buy a Heart?

2. Rebellious Soul

3. More Issues Than Vogue

4. All Monsters Are Human

5. Kimberly: The People I Used to Know

You have a captivating flow where you can go from singing ballads to rapping, even just straight rapping on a few records like "Mindful." How important is versatility for you as an artist?

I really got signed as a rapper and singer, but versatility is everything. It’s who I am as a person. You don’t know what you may get with me on a day.

You’ve been very open and honest with your struggles with people, management, and assistants, as well as your personal struggles. And yet, you still stand strong and stand in your truth. What made you continue to speak out and never stay silent?

I question myself sometimes. Like, maybe I should say what I should say and touch who I’m going to touch. Nothing for me to hide because I have the same problems as y’all.

If you could change one thing about industry and its ‘ethics,’ or its system, what would you change?

I would change the whole industry. All the devils are out of hell because they live in the music industry. They are evil people, disgusting. [They] are demons. Sorry.

It’s okay, that’s how you feel. Is this really the end of K. Michelle in R&B? What made you ultimately decide to hang up your R&B boots?

It’s the end of any control over me. If I wake up on a Monday and make a song, I plan on getting it out by the next Monday.

As you enter country music, it’s unfortunately hard for us as Black people to break into the genre despite it coming from us. How are you mentally preparing to break those boundaries and make space for yourself in the genre?

Fight like normal. Nobody can help me but God, and there’s nothing I can do besides sing. You can be down, up, but one thing in the music industry is that you don’t count anybody out. Fight for your real life.

I love Mickey Guyton and we spoke several times. She had hit me before to sing a country song at a festival. She’s very supportive and I asked her about writers and people to work with. She is country and doesn’t try to gatekeep. There are so many people I want to work with in country like Ernest, my favorite artist Morgan Wallen, Luke Holmes, and Dolly Parton. Liam Womack, too.

I would love a biopic!

I’ve talked to someone about that, but it’s a lot for something like that.

How do you want to be remembered?

Just remember me for my music, my truth, and I’m not with the sh*t. That’s it.

I'm the Problem is now streaming on all platforms.

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