Album Review: Chrisette Michele’s Epiphany
Chrisette Michele is one of those artists who suffers from the bifurcated way black music is marketed and sold—and consumed. She’s too good a singer to be a pop star. And too young and hip hop-inspired to be relegated to the neo-soul, adult contemporary section of the record store. (Is there even an AC section on Itunes?)
Or so we are told.
Because she is in a not-so-enviable position, her record label tried to position her on her first album, I Am, as a torch singing sentimental by releasing two torchy ballads—“If I Have My Way” and “Best of Me”—leading many people to think that was all that her debut had to offer. Even though I Am was as varied a debut we’ve seen, boasting better than expected production from will.i.am, exceptional work by Salaam Remi, and a rejuvenated Babyface, it seemed that audiences and critics were reacting to Island Def Jam’s marketing of Michele, not the music on her album. By the time “Be Okay” came around and won Michele a Grammy, Island Def Jam was already sending Michele out, new haircut and all, to remind people that she is only 26, likes to have fun, and isn’t just a “singer.”
At first blush, Epiphany, with its executive production by industry darling Ne-Yo, would seem to be Michele’s studio-crafted and approved official coming out party—an apology of sorts for saddling the record-buying public with too much emotion and nuance the last go-round. But Epiphany is not all that different from I Am.
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