Out of nowhere, I come home and waiting for me in my mailbox from one of my favorite labels (they always send me the good stuff to preview) is an album sampler from their newest artist Kevin Michael’s debut album “We All Want The Same Thing.”
At first, I’m thinking, okay just another album to listen to, but then I pop it in and I am pleasantly surprised by his sound and style. So much so, that I’ve been playing the sampler ever since and added his song to my Myspace page.
I let a few friends listen to the album on our way to go hiking Sunday and we all agree that he’s one to watch.
His sound is a mix between Rashaan Patterson and Bilal…we think. Although, I’m going to go out on a limb and throw in Van Hunt, another one of my favorite artists.
The track “We All Want The Same Thing” is an activist song in its own right with the hook, “All my gangster friends/and all my skater friends/We all want the same thing/DJ’s in the clubs/Jesus freaks and thugs/We all want the same thing.” The beat is good and as an added bonus he recorded an acoustic version of the song.
I also like the track “Vicki Secrets,” it’s sexy and shows that this brotha has range.
The lyrics are safe, the beats are good. What’s not to love? This brotha is definitely going to be one to watch out for this summer. Mark my words. I know my music.
Check him out online at www.myspace.com/kevinmichaelmusic.
Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, the child of a black father and an Italian and black mother, Kevin grew up in a house filled with music. His father, a music fanatic, was known in his hood as “Rick Prince” due to his love of Rick James and Prince. And at the age of five, Kevin recalls, “Our dusty ass record player only had one album on it, and that was Patti Labelle’s ‘Greatest Hits.’” Absorbing the music around him like a sponge, he was a constant source of potential embarrassment to his mother – because she couldn’t take him anywhere without him singing out loud to passersby’s everywhere. “My mom was so embarrassed to take me to the mall,” he recalls with a laugh, “I would sing ‘Me So Horny’ at the top of my lungs!”
Growing up, the music came from within Kevin, and he began recording as a teen. “At 16, I wrote my first song,” he recalls. “I woke up in the studio one night and something literally clicked in my head! I really heard it, so I said, ‘I better write this down.’ My father still calls it a classic.” For Kevin, music was the only option worth considering. He recounts, “I had the offer of a full scholarship to Hofstra, but I never seriously thought about it. I feel real strongly about doing what it is you want to do. Of course, my mom didn’t understand. But I felt a real responsibility to live out my legend.”
Creating a legend and then living it out is what Kevin has set out to do with his debut album. “We All Want The Same Thing,” the album’s opener, serves as both a statement of purpose and roots for the artist who lived in worlds both black and white (“All my gangster friends/and all my skater friends/We all want the same thing/DJ’s in the clubs/Jesus freaks and thugs/We all want the same thing”). “It Don’t Make Any Difference To Me,” produced by and featuring Wyclef Jean, brings a Caribbean flavor to the mix, showing both the range of Kevin’s songwriting abilities and the depth of his pride at who he is (“All you gotta do is look at me/Three generations of my family you see/People treat you different/When you’re in between/He was black white and she was white/You know that most people thought that it wasn’t right/I can still remember what she used to say/It don’t make any difference to me…”). Combining an irresistible pop feel with the poignancy of the lyric, what emerges is a trans-racial modern day anthem.
“If I Ain’t Got You” is one of those rare one-listen songs; a bonafide smash-to-be, a love song filled with lament and loss – and a chorus that soars and demands to be sung along with upon hearing it for the first time. “Vicki Secrets,” featuring Kevin’s falsetto, shows off a singer with considerable sex appeal who knows how to communicate to the ladies. And then there’s Kevin’s ode to Michael Jackson, “Stone Cold Killa,” which weaves a Latin percussive feel with snappy pop phrasing and layered vocal harmonies that conjure a world of good times, beautiful women and smiles on the dance floor.
“I don’t know where I begin and the music stops,” exclaims Kevin. With a stunning debut ready to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting music public, the young soul man with the brimming confidence is ready to take his vision on the road and to the next level: “I’m going to tie everything together. Be Mr. Global, Mr. Universe. I’ve got the hit songs to do it – and wait till you see my show!” Those are big claims, but great R&B stars were never about being falsely modest – they were about making big statements and having the skills to back it up. “I came out of the gates swinging,” he says of his debut album, and it’s obvious that Kevin Michael is one of those rare artists who have got the talent to truly connect.