“I write songs about people,” says K. Michelle, the 33-year-old R&B spitfire and Memphis native whose previous three albums went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. On her latest LP, Kimberly: The People I Used to Know (out Dec. 8), some of those folks are from her past (“A lot of people I don’t even talk to anymore”), one’s a major reality TV star, and one is, well, herself. And they weren’t her only inspirations — alcohol and edible cannabis fueled her songs, too.
Michelle breaks down how exactly she got into “the zone,” and just what was on her mind as she tackled everyone from God to a certain Kardashian.
“God Love Sex and Drugs”
“People want to box me in so bad — they want me to be one thing. I’m learning that my complexities make me. That’s why this song speaks on who I am. It’s controversial because it’s saying everything I love: God, sex and a little bit of drugs. I believed in my last album, but the people around me didn’t. I have a brand-new A&R, and he understood it. It’s super funky — the bassline, everything. If James Brown was around, he’d think the song rocked. I ate a lot of edibles and I was just in there flowing. I have superbad migraines, but the one medication that helps is this sativa gummy. I’m deeply in my zone when I eat that.”
“I was in the studio watching something about [Kim Kardashian], thinking, ‘If I did that, all hell would break loose.’ It’d be considered ghetto or ratchet. So I said in the song, ‘Wish I could be a Kardashian so I could be black.’ We’re living in a world where little black girls are being told [how to] act. Then the people getting ahead are acting a way you tell us not to — ways that are naturally who we are. That’s where this record came from. We [sampled] 2Pac’s ‘I Ain’t Mad at Cha,’ because that’s basically what I’m saying: ‘Go on ahead witcha bad self.’ Everybody knows I love Kim K; it’s no diss.”
“I got in there, had my edibles, my Jack Honey [whiskey] in hand and just sang. It ended up being my favorite because it’s so much fun. This is one of the album’s shake-your-ass moments. It’s just saying, ‘Everybody’s not going to like what you have to say. The sooner you realize that, you’ll be all right either way.’ I did that record in 10 minutes — it’s always easy for me to write the truth. I do a little rap. People forget I had a mixtape full of raps that got me my record deal [with Jive Records in 2009]. I paid for college through yodeling. I have always been into every type of music.”
“Crazy Like You”
“I always give these classic K. Michelle records — these red-wig K. Michelle records. [Here] it’s a specific knucklehead rapper that I’m like, ‘You make me crazy, and you got me acting like a fool.’ The type of stuff that love like that will [make you] do is unreal. When you’re mad at a man, you’ll say anything to him. Then you be like, ‘You wasn’t even worth it. I can’t believe I was that stupid.’ A lot of women will clap their hands to that one.”
“Talk To God”
“A lot of things I hear about myself are not true. [And] some are — that’s just the way I am. You have to talk to God about how he made me. They say I got a clever, slick mouth — it helps with writing. All of the lies, confirm them with God, because I can’t keep doing it. I might mess up, but when it comes to music, that’s something I’m accidentally good at.”