Photo by Robert Carter

MusicSummer of Blacker Love

kevin michael has love (and new music) for everyone

June 6, 2019
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It has been a while — 6 years to be exact — since we’ve heard of artist, Kevin Michael. He first came to the public consciousness in 2007 with a Wyclef co-sign with the hit,  “It Don’t Make a Difference to Me.” Over a decade later, Kevin is noticeably more mature and comfortable, and interesting. Where his boyish charm and eclectic sensibility was once his drawing factor, now the charm and eclecticism is still there, but an adult who has lived a lot of life is what’s in his place.

With that newfound adulthood, there are less themes and tricks Kevin is calling upon and more stories — authentic, erotic, confessional, painful, pleasurable — but his keen ear for music is still there, and so is that voice. That voice. The raspy piece of funk that sounds like a masculine answer to Betty Davis’ soulful howls feels healing in an error of computer sounds and trap grunts. With his latest single, “Sidenixxa,” Michael is priming us for his latest EP, Quiet Cool. Kevin says, “This work is from the body.”

The sonic influence of “Sidenixxa” is late 90’s and early 2000’s. Kevin opens with, “You don’t appreciate the time that I’ve put into this love affair of ours.” An ode to R&B vocalist, Faith Evans, who ruled the 90s and early 2000’s, and influenced a generation of vocalists to come. The production and harmonies are an homage to the sounds that Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Ginuwine and Static Major crafted and innovated — and Kevin takes it somewhere new and sultry, “It’s refined, it’s smooth, it’s silky, and sexy.”

Culturally, the song (and project) is a shift. Kevin Michael uses neutral pronouns which takes R&B/funk and democratizes the romance that is usually reserved for highly gendered and heterosexual relationships, and makes it free. Kevin says of the upcoming project and its decidedly bold and authentic stance, “I’m into free love. I’m into just sorta, figuring it out. Fluidity. This is the most personal I’ve ever been on a body of work.” One thing is for sure, no matter how long he is gone, Kevin Michael remains ahead of his time and refuses to not be free.