Duke Anthony Hamilton––  “What I’m Feelin’” –
RCA Records
A tour-de-force of southern soul

Charlotte, North Carolina native Hamilton returns with his 7th album and doesn’t disappoint.
Known mainly for his collaboration hits with hip-hop artists like Jadakiss and Nappy Roots, he’s written material for r.n.b crooner Donell Jones and even sang back up for neo soul king D’Angelo on the road.
That’s why it was refreshing to hear rapper David Banner sing back-up for Hamilton on his irresistible 2008 hit “Cool” off his album “The Point Of It All”.
Now seven albums deep, excluding a couple of unofficial compilation albums of unreleased music.anthony-hamilton-what-im-feelin-billboard-1000
The set’s opening cut, the up-tempo “Save Me”, showcases Hamilton’s soulful southern gruffy vocals. Hamilton does his best Ray Charles concept of marrying the sacred with the sensual, which in essence is what soul music is after admiring his subject’s anatomy and then singing; “I just want to be born again baby with your love”.
The bluesey ballad “Ain’t No Shame” almost sounds like Hamilton is singing about the sad state of contemporary r’n’b when he laments; “Not much goin’ on around me and I can’t stand it, sometimes I want to leave it all behind, grab me a bag and say goodbye and head on my way”.
His soulful vibrato on the track coupled with his sentiments almost tells the listener that he feels unappreciated in a world of auto-tune and lip-syncing.
The title track sounds like a hip-hopish-doo-wop ballad that seems to meander albeit stylistically and is kept together by Hamilton’s strong if not overly eager vox on this one.
The gorgeous “Amen” sounds like a sermon were it not for his epiphany of a new found love. He sings “You got me saying Amen, from the bed to the sto’, from the church to the job, best thing I know”.
The acoustic ballad “Never Letting Go” harkens back to Otis Redding while the simple arrangement on “Grateful“ allows space for the rich crystal sounds of Hamilton`s voice to break through as he croons in a melancholy mood about a life changing love. “Walk In My Shoes” may be an ode to his recent divorce where he sings; “ Lost my wife, my cars, my home, I almost lost my mind yeah“. The chorus proclaims: ”If you ever walked a mile in my shoes, you would see what I’ve been going through.”
The ballads; “I Want You” and “Take You Home” are worth the price of admission alone. The incredible “Still” is the album’s high point.
Hamilton delivers a tour de force of southern soul guaranteed to satisfy the sanctified soul.

Rating = 8/10

“More Issues Than Vogue” – K. Michelle –
Atlantic Records
She has the chops but doesn’t deliver on this one

Reality TV  star K. Michelle gives us her 3rd album and it’s clear that Atlantic or somebody had Nicky Minaj on their mind. The one time Missy Elliott and R. Kelly protégé does her best to compete with the First Lady of Young Money with mixed results.
On cuts like “Got ‘Em Like”, “Sleep Like A Baby” and “Rich”(featuring Trina & Yo Gotti), it’s clear that Michelle is shooting for Minaj’s audience even resortingK.-Michelle-More-Issues-Than-Vogue-2016-2480x2480 to using her “assets” in music videos and promotional shots.
Michelle had stated that she wanted to explore more diverse musical styles on “Issues”. Straight pop songs like “All That I Got”, “Make The Bed”(featuring Jason Derulo) and “If It Ain’t Love” hint at that but don’t really hit the mark.
Ridiculous fluff like the single “Mindful” which is a bit funky but silly at the same time as well as “Ain’t You” is just plain vulgar and coarse for no reason.
The interesting thing about all of this is that Michelle doesn’t have to necessarily  resort to this sort of things as her voice is slightly stronger than Minaj  and others on the scene. Plus Michelle is not a rapper.
Surprisingly, she shines best on ballads like, “Time”, “These Men” and the Kelly Price penned “Not A Little Bit”.
The results as far as the ballads are concerned on “Issues” show that Michelle has decent enough chops to not have to resort to the infantile fluff sometimes heard here.
To ensure a much longer career than the typical flash in the pan, Michelle would be best advised to step up her game to a much more mature audience.
Rating = 6/10