Women in Music 2016
Watch Billboard and American Express' 'Women in Music: Inspiring a Generation' Video
Bozoma Saint John Accepts Executive of the Year Honor at Women In Music 2016: 'We're Knocking Dudes Out of the Way to Make Room for You'
Madonna Delivers Her Blunt Truth During Fiery, Teary Billboard Women In Music Speech
Kesha Accepts Trailblazer Award at Billboard Women in Music 2016: 'Don't Let Anyone Take Your Happiness'
K. Michelle Opens Up About Liposuction, Upcoming TV Shows & Recording High
There are few filters on R&B singer K. Michelle. The Memphis native, 30, chased a fiery stint on VH1's Love & Hip-Hop with an R-rated debut album, Rebellious Soul, in 2013, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. That straight-shooter attitude may be tamer on her sophomore LP, Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? (Atlantic, Dec. 9), but she's still not holding back -- rumor has it that she wrote her single "Maybe I Should Call" about actor Idris Elba, who directed her Rebellious Soul musical earlier this year. With her reality show, K. Michelle: My Life, currently airing on VH1 and three more series in development, Michelle discusses her love for marijuana, documenting her liposuction procedure on TV and her upcoming tour.
In comparison to Rebellious Soul, what was the process like for Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?
It's completely different. You can hear through the sound, the feel, the energy... I did Rebellious Soul in a different place in life and I also did it in New York, which is a very aggressive city. I feel like your environment plays a big part in your writing if you're a writer. For me, I feel like every album, I want to be in a new place. So I did the album in L.A., which is a different vibe: very chill, very beautiful and edibles are legal. [Laughs] So I ate these edibles called Happy Bites, which I'm now going to do my own flavor of called K. Bites because I love them so much, these chocolate truffles. I went in the studio and I said, you know what? We're not going to focus on a genre-based album. We're going to focus on what feels good in the music. If I felt like singing country for the day, that's what I did. If I felt like mixing R&B with rock, that's what I did. And then vocally, this album is a vocal step up. The vocals are absolutely amazing, and the people that hear it are shocked and say, I didn't even know you could sing like that. This doesn't even sound like the same artist.
I'm curious about you going into the studio high. Did it help your creativity?
I didn't go in like that, because I had to drive. I usually sit there, eat a chocolate truffle edible, fix me a glass of wine and I'll have tons of water, because you need it for your voice, and I just sing. I don't take beats from people either, so that makes it better for me. I don't go into a fixed process. So, I go in and I have a piano player there and I start to sing.
Choosing "Maybe I Should Call" as a single is a risky move because it's so personal and makes you vulnerable. What was its inspiration?
I was in a relationship. I was dating someone for eight months and that was his situation. He was long distance, he had a child on the way and I was led to believe that after this child was born that we would have a chance to fully be together. And as a woman, I preach to women about, "You can't be second and you better tell the man what you think" and all of that, and it's amazing how you can look up and you're one of those women. I built my career on being honest with my fans. So if I ever find myself in a situation that I'm not proud of, I don't plan on lying about it. I don't plan on hiding it. So that was actually the first record I wrote for this album and I was so fucked up mentally. That song was my way of saying 'we need to stop talking.' I was being so stubborn like, I'm not going to do this because it's real life what I'm going through.
People were saying that this is about a particular relationship with Idris Elba. Is there any truth to that?
Like I said before, I'm not trying to focus in on that or hurt anybody. It's just my life and what I've been through. When it comes to him, I'll always love him and I wish him well in his craft and his family.
Your new reality show is airing on VH1 at the moment, and you made the decision to have liposuction and show it in an episode. Why did you want to document that?
I don't play Perfect Penny. What makes me relatable to my fans and to the world is the fact that I show that I have flaws and I have issues, just like you. And my body has been a huge topic of discussion. People say, 'she has one of the best bodies in the industry. Is it fake? Is it real? What does she do?' I don't lie about my body. I tell people this is what I got done, because little girls will look at you and think that you're supposed to automatically look like that. I didn't always look like this.
Clearly you're not afraid to show it—you're naked on your album cover. Do you feel confident in your body?
I love myself. I love being naked. I love my body. I had a little pouch and I got rid of it and I show it. I say the best thing I ever did for me was... I remember I didn't have boobs. I really wanted these boobs, and people were like 'Oh my god you're going to get boobs.' I love my boobs. I look at them every day, I touch them, I love them. I'm not going to lie and say I haven't gone through self-esteem issues, because we all do, but at this point, I like myself. I look in the mirror and I see beautiful. I look at the woman, going into my spirit, and I like my inner self as well.
I'm finally getting to release my first single in the U.K. and my album there. I'm doing a TV show there as well that'll be over here and my journey there, trying to conquer new territory. I'm going to do some dates probably with [Keyshia Cole], but the biggest thing for me now is the Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? tour, my London, U.K. tour and getting everything ready together for that. And I have another show that I'm doing that I'm producing with Mona [Scott-Young] called Busted, and it's where I catch my fans' men cheating. I have a lot of TV shows in the works, touring in the works, and I'm opening up my first spa in the end of January, February, in my hometown of Memphis. So I'm going to be very busy.
Stream Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? below: