Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream Puts The Soul Back In R&B, Despite His Feeling That The Genre Has Become A ‘Caricature Of Itself’

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Kaleidoscope Dream is the magical sophomore album by Miguel, an LP in which he infuses the sounds of rock, soul and funk into the expanding box that is modern R&B. On “Adorn,” which is currently No. 1 on the Hip-Hop/R&B charts, he croons about love and intimacy over the funky bass line. “‘Adorn’ is romantic, but it’s dirty at the same time,” he told us the day his album dropped. “It’s all the highs of love with all the coolness of the party.” Then there’s “Use Me,” “Do You,” “Arch & Point,” and “Pussy Is Mine” that explore the beauty of intimacy. While “Do You” is as much about the sensuality (“Do you like hugs? Do you like love?”) as it is about sex (“I wanna do you like drugs tonight”), the provocative “Pussy Is Mine” is completely about Miguel’s friend with benefits making him feel like it is all his.

But don’t get it twised. Miguel’s sophomore effort is not just as a babymaking album filled with sex, sex and more sex. In fact, Miguel himself is disappointed in the oversexed direction the genre has moved in (think Trey Songz , think Pleasure P). “R&B has become a caricature of itself in the last 15 years,” he said (see our video above). What exactly does he mean? “We forgot that this isn’t a stereotype, it’s a genre and should be creative,” he opined. “In the past 15 years it’s just been easier to kind of relax and let it be for the bedroom or being sexy…Where’s the individuality is what I’m saying?”

This explains why for every song like “Use Me,” there’s a “Kaleidoscope Dream,” a “Where’s The Fun In Forever,” (co-written by Alicia Keys), or a “Candles In The Sun.” No two songs sound the same. Despite his biggest influence deriving from soul music, there’s rock n’ roll in the guitar strings in “The Thrill.” You hear the uptempo pop-y rhythm and blues in “How Many Drinks.”

Kaleidoscope Dream is interesting in that while it’s categorically an R&B album —and probably one of the closest to traditional R&B albums released in the last few years— it also feels like it fits right alongside the current cabal of R&B artists who are readily pushing the boundaries of the genre; artists like Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Jhene Aiko and Elle Varner also embody this spirit. “What I’m excited for now is there are emerging artists who are being themselves, but still being soulful,” he said optimistically. “It’s time. We’re kind of in the midst of a renaissance.”

While R&B artists have, for a myriad of reasons, slowly veered more toward the EDM and pop sound, fans desire the diversity of ’90s R&B that blasted from home stereos in the form of Brandy, Silk, Blackstreet, Jodeci, En Vogue and so on. What’s been missing has been the soul-stirring, heart-tugging music that made you feel something. One thing’s for certain: The alluring sound of Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream definitely puts soul and emotion back in rhythm and blues.

RELATED VIDEOS:
Miguel On Pop Music: “I think there’s pressure for R&B musicians to go in the direction of EDM.” (WATCH)
Miguel on “Pussy Is Mine”: “When you’re single and you have friends that you’re intimate with, in the moment of intimacy, I treat it like it’s mine.” (WATCH)

Miguel on the State of R&B