Miguel Pimentel had shown great promise on his 2010 debut All I Want Is You, even if the album got snubbed at this year's Grammys. Although he was nominated in 2011 for co-writing Jaheim's "Finding My Way Back," Miguel felt strongly enough that he took to Twitter.
"I'm F*****g Pissed Yo," he tweeted back in December 2011. "I don't think I'm God's gift to music but I know the Album or at LEAST 'Sure Thing' should have been Nominated."
He was right to be mad, but he also vowed to work harder in 2012. Which brings us to Kaleidoscope Dream, easily the most exciting male R&B album of the past five years. It's a good time to be an exceptional artist in that lane and he's not alone (hi, Frank Ocean!). All the mediocrity in the genre (and I won't name names but you know who you are) was cause for concern.
Here's a recent conversation I had with a friend about 25-year-old Miguel, who is black and Mexican and grew up in Los Angeles:
Me: "He's like Prince for the kids who didn't grow up on Prince."
My friend: "C'mon, Angie. Prince?!"
Me: "Ok, maybe Prince-lite."
My friend: "Ok, I'll give you that one."
The truth is, I was just trying to move on to the next order of business, which was far more urgent at the time. But I still feel that way, especially after hearing Kaleidoscope Dream. You know when you continue to discover layers to an album? Well, that's what I've been doing for the past three days, and will do well into the weekend/month, and probably year. And if you've ever been to one of his concerts, then you know just how much his bad, pint-sized self (he's got to be roughly the same height as Prince) makes the girlies scream.
Miguel says that this album represents the fantasies that are channeled through dreams. "I believe dreams represent the purest form of fantasy we unleash through our subconscious," he explains. "They represent the truest freedom we can experience. Totally unrepressed and totally creative."
Super-modest and demure he is not, and that's a huge part of his appeal. Even his Twitter bio warns: "Don't follow me. I'm trouble." Which, of course, means you will.
He's the guy who says the stuff that everybody thinks but doesn't have the cojones to say.
On "P***y is Mine" he croons: "Tell me that that p***y is mine, cause I don't want to believe that anyone is just like me/could you just lie to me, lie to me, lie to me so sweet/baby, ignorance is bliss/yeah, I know exactly what this is," with a lonesome electric guitar backing him. The falsetto he flexes on that one is dangerous.
On the new single "Do You," produced by Jerry "Wonda" (Fugees, Wyclef Jean), he bluntly poses the question: "Do you like drugs? Yeah, me too/…I'ma do you like drugs tonight."
Don't get me wrong. There is a sweet, innocent, romantic side to the kid, too, and it's equally seductive (he's a male Scorpio, enough said). In "Do You" he also asks, "Do you like hugs?/ What about love?"
Already a seasoned writer (he's penned material for Usher, Mary J. Blige, among others) Miguel also handles a lot of the soundscaping himself, inviting only a select group of veteran producers in. We're talking people like Salaam Remi, who's behind the title track and "How Many Drinks?" which is another playful proposition for what could go down between himself and a pretty girl after the club. On this one Miguel also raps some good ol' fashioned raunchiness which I will not repeat here because I'm a lady. Alicia Keys co-wrote the track "Where's the fun in Forever?," and you can hear Miguel and her playing around in the studio toward the end of it.
It's really no surprise that Miguel's album is magical. Mark Pitts, the man Notorious B.I.G. used to call "Manager Extraordinaire" and currently the President of RCA Urban Music/CEO of Bystorm Entertainment, the label Miguel is signed to and a joint venture with RCA, oversaw it.
If I had a nascent R&B career, I'd want that baby in his hands, too.
Stay tuned for our interview with Miguel coming soon!
Other notable releases this week:
Adele She'll debut the theme song for the next Bond film, "Skyfall," tonight at 7:07 pm ET on Adele.TV. So excited!
Tommy Torres, 12 Historias