Local Wire

Kevin Michael

Where is R&B going these days? That is the question posed by this Philadelphia newcomer, whose self-titled CD features guest appearances from Lupe Fiasco, Q-Tip, and Wyclef Jean. The first track that grabs the listener's attention is the anti-racist anthem "It Don't Make Any Difference To Me," which contains some Latin sounds (especially on the acoustic version) to go with its beats and scratches. Also interesting is the upbeat "We All Want the Same Thing," in which Michael says everyone is simply exercising the right to pursue the happiness that our forefathers guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence. He seems to draw inspiration from '80s-era Prince and Michael Jackson in his music. It's evident in tunes such as the funky "Can't Get Enough" and "Stone Cold Killa." However, he does look into the future of the genre by including smart beats from producers Shea Taylor, Jean, and Jonathan "J.R." Rotem, who steer him without hurting his pop instincts, leaving the music intact. If this CD is any indication, Kevin Michael is a name that we will be hearing more about. He has the ability to cross over genres with great ease, bringing his different influences into one cohesive package.

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Ernest Barteldes