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Album Review: K – EP (February 19, 2021) – Kelly Rowland

By Evan Cardinal, Albright College ‘21

Feb 26, 2021

The Context – To enlighten any reader aged eighteen years or younger, Kelly Rowland is not just the female vocalist proclaiming her love for Nelly on a now viral TikTok sound. 2002’s “Dilemma” is an instantly recognizable track of Rowland’s that helped launch her solo career, but the song is just a part of her extensive discography. Along with Michelle Williams and the incomparable Beyoncé Knowles, Rowland comprised the multi–Grammy Award-winning trio Destiny’s Child whose high-grossing hits like “Say My Name” and “Bootylicious” rank the group as one of the most commercially and culturally successful acts of the 90s and 2000s.

During a hiatus with Destiny’s Child, Rowland released her first solo effort with 2002’s Skin Deep. Singles like “Dilemma,” “Stole,” and “Can’t Nobody” helped the album reach number one on the UK charts and sell millions of copies worldwide but it was Rowland’s sophomore effort Ms. Kelly in 2007 that proved her mettle as a solo artist. Here I Am (2011) and Talk a Good Game (2013) followed as chart-topping LPs; however, Rowland took a musical break herself and focused on her acting career (X Factor USA, Chasing Destiny, The Voice Australia, Bad Hair, etc.) until she released multiple singles in 2018. Rowland had a busy 2020 after releasing “Coffee,” “Crazy,” and “Hitman” as singles predating her latest EP K in 2021.

The Content – “Flowers,” a soulful selection from Rowland where her vocals compliment a slow, pulsating electro beat and piano overture, starts the album with a cosmic vibe. Rowland captures an early 2000s sound with her patented diva vocals on “Black Magic” but the production swaps the now archaic drum machine mixes for a crisp, electronic Afrobeat. The aforementioned “Hitman” is a club-friendly track with sexy lyrics backed by another infectious dancehall-esque sound.

Rowland brings the body-moving energy again on the heavy-hitting and explicit “Crazy.” The singer/songwriter introduces passionate sensuality on the penultimate “Speed of Love” where acoustic guitar strums, wooden percussion, and finger snaps mold a sultry Latin/R&B fusion. Steel drums and a thumping dancehall beat juxtapose a love focused piano ballad from Rowland on the final track “Better.”

The Skinny – In spite of the small sample size, Kelly Rowland offers a strong, diverse character on her K – EP. The R&B royal shows her audience a new side of her talent when Rowland delivers her patented vocals alongside tropical Afrobeats on tracks like “Black Magic” and “Hitman.” The futuristic sound of “Flowers” is truly unique but did not reappear as a sonic motif throughout the record, which perhaps would have made the record more engaging. However, the explorative nature of K demonstrates that the 40-year-old Rowland can still produce relevant R&B dance hits and ballads in 2021 and beyond.

The Rating – 6.6/10

K – EP

  1. Flowers
  2. Black Magic
  3. Hitman
  4. Crazy
  5. Speed of Love
  6. Better

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