“Sometimes I’m [going to] smack a b–ch with flowers, sometimes I’m [going to] wax a motherf–ker, but I’m still a lady,” K.Michelle told her adoring audience at the Highline Ballroom in New York City on Thursday night. Those who balk at hearing profanity in small spaces clearly haven’t been to a K show before. Seeing the Love And Hip Hop Atlanta star perform live is part comedy show, part therapy session, and, most importantly, a true example of a talented vocalist with personality to spare.
For over an hour K treated the crowd to cuts from her mixtapes (0 F–ks Given being the clear favorite) and her upcoming album, Rebellious Soul (out July 30), before a crowd of family, friends (including Angela Yee, Vivian Billings, and Mona Scott-Young), and friends that have become family. In addition to music, she did her best to insert deliciously entertaining anecdotes from her life (“I was eating some edibles, touching my thighs and [this song] just came out “) or cultural observations (“You have no right to judge nobody”) whenever possible. Looking every bit the epitome of glamour in a bedazzled bodysuit, she was an open book throughout the night, making this feel more like an intimate gathering rather than a major label showcase. She spoke freely about her time on LHHATL, making less than subtle nods to certain cast members–ahem, Ariane–in her lyrics (“What you know about your ex-boyfriend tell you he love you but he sleeping with your friend?”) and playing up the recent confrontation with Mimi by wearing a wedding veil and pretending to get married on stage during a new song (“When I Find A Man”) their televised flower fight inspired. “You know me, I’m an a–hole,” K laughed. “I write about everything I’m going through.” And for that, we are grateful.
No matter how prevalent LHHATL is, K wants you to know that the image you see on your television screens week after week doesn’t fully represent her. “You only get to see the half of it,” she told the audience. “I’m not perfect; I don’t want you to strive to be like me, I want you to be better than me.” She’s been publicly involved with Saving Our Daughters, and her set included a video testament from a young female domestic violence victim named Shaun. While this moment served as a chance for K to catch her breath (and sip some of her Jack Daniel’s), she followed the moving video up with a revealing depiction of one of the toughest periods of her life. “You have to be strong. I thought my career was over, I thought it was over; I didn’t have anything,” she explained, breaking into tears while referencing her own experience in a volatile relationship. “I still get angry, and I think that’s the reason for a lot of things I do that I shouldn’t. But you can’t take the excuse. You just have to get better and say why and move forward.” Cue her impassioned remix of Beyoncé’s “Best Thing I Never Had,” aptly titled, “Worst Thing I Ever Had.”
“If you go through that, you have to use it to help other people,” she added. Her ability to write about whatever she’s going through–be it a busted woo-ha or painful break-up–is inspiring to many who feel silent and stuck in a negative situation. Through her way with words and powerful stage presence, K helps those of us in confusing situations to find our voice. She’s the cool and confident big sister we can’t help but look up to–the one who taught us how to dress, make him jealous (as seen in the way she whipped her hips during a particularly pointed line of a break-up anthem, as if to physically move the man in question to see what he’s missing), and buy us a pet monkey just because. (Yes, look out for an Ochocinco-inspired cut on the album.) The crowd was more than appreciative of her generosity, enthusiastically singing back every word of every song, from “I Can’t Do This Anymore,” to new single, “V.S.O.P.” The latter marked the lone time the typically loquacious K fell silent, humbled by the gesture before her. “I love my fans, y’all are just as crazy as me,” she proclaimed.
VH1 caught up with K after the show to get the scoop on Rebellious Soul and whether or not she and Mimi have settled their differences.
VH1: How did tonight’s show compare to your gig at B.B. Kings earlier this year?
K.Michelle: It was more pressure, I think, because it was my label. It was more industry people here than last time. I was a little tense but it was great to be on stage.
You didn’t seem tense at all…
Well you get up there, you gotta do what you gotta do.
How did it feel to hear everyone singing along to “V.S.O.P.”?
The single just hit radio this week. They knew all the words. It was amazing.
You’re so open with everything you say and do, has there ever been something a fan has done that’s truly shocked you or left you speechless?
They say weird things all the time. Nothing is too weird for me, I’m never shocked with it. This man sent me a picture of his penis the other day–that was weird.
Was it difficult making this album while you were filming Love And Hip Hop Atlanta?
Very. It has its pros and cons, you know? They needed me at the show, but I needed to do the album. It was juggling of time and everything like that but I took a lot of things to write about from it.
Did you share any of your material with any of your LHHATL castmates during the recording process?
[Stevie J and Rasheeda] aren’t really artists so I wouldn’t do that. I have mentors like R.Kelly and real musical people, so I would never go to them for anything.
Do they ever consult you about their musical projects?
I don’t want to hear that.
What’s the latest with Mimi?
We’re friends. I still don’t like her boyfriend–well, whatever he is–but she knows that and we’re there and I wish her the best of luck. I like picking with people, but it’s all in fun.
Is there anything from your personal life that you didn’t want to write about for this album?
No, I talk about anything. I probably shouldn’t, but I do.
Are we going to hear country influences on Rebellious Soul
You can kind of tell from the writing, but I think the second album, I’ll try to throw a little something in there. Right now I just want to give my fans what they’ve been really waiting for.
How does it feel to be in New York full-time?
I love New York. Anything’s better than Atlanta. It’s just time to go. It’s a great place for people, it’s just not for me. I did what I came to do there, now it’s time to conquer something else.
How do the music scenes differ?
The music scene used to be really popping in Atlanta, but everybody’s either gone to New York or L.A. so now it’s kind of dried up there.
Who are other artists you’d like to work with?
I really love Eric Hudson–that’s who I worked with on my album–I think he’s so musical.
“V.S.O.P.” really touches on how to make a date night “special.” What do you need to set the mood?
I’m simple–just relaxing, chilling and being around the person you like with a nice drink. That could be nice.
And your drink of choice is…
Jack Daniel’s, but I try to stay away from him now. No brown liquor or I can get a little angry sometimes [laughs].