K. Michelle

VH1

As a longtime Love & Hip Hop devotee, without question the best edition of the franchise is Love & Hop Hop: Atlanta. Much of that has to do with two particular cast members: Joseline Hernandez and K. Michelle. One came from obscurity while the other was known among very passionate R&B fans for her 2010 mixtape, What’s the 901? One was seemingly more calculated than the other on how to use the platform to further their musical ambitions, but both have since become the biggest breakout stars from the entire franchise.

Now both find themselves with their own spinoffs airing on the same night: K. Michelle: My Life and Stevie J & Joseline Go Hollywood, respectively. The former is in its second season, but similar to where K. Michelle finds herself as she waits to debut her third studio album, in new terrain all the same. K. is now in Los Angeles, recording an album that she claims her label, Atlantic Records, of being “very skeptical and scared of me revealing the real artist that I am.”

The Memphis-bred singer-songwriter claims to want to go to the UK, to have “arena music,” and not be limited to just Black people enjoying her music. As big a fan I am of K. Michelle the singer, her off-stage commentary is far less digestible. While I can only imagine the frustrations a boxed-in creative of her caliber has got to have with her label, I’m not entirely sure how the R&B, soul-leaning music she does now limits her from being someone who can perform in London and other parts of Europe.

If anything, the UK tends to have a greater respect for Black music and Black artists than Americans sometimes do—especially if they’re women. In any event, that’s where K. Michelle finds herself on this show: wanting to try new things; desiring to broaden her appeal; fighting to be the multifaceted person and entertainer that she is.



I support K. Michelle in this, but it’s hard to hear her tell Tony Gaskins, her apparent life coach of years, “I do a lot of White people stuff” now. She means drinking green smoothies and such. There are plenty of Negroes who do that, but perhaps moving to Los Angeles will burst that bubble that produces that misguided thinking. Meanwhile, K. Michelle also finds herself craving White men.

Such is her right, but there’s just something strange about anyone of color putting too much faith in whiteness and mainstream acclaim. Perhaps that’s why those around her are making sure she pushes the envelope sonically, but not totally alienate the Black fans who’ve made her a star and will very well likely support her throughout the peak and nadir of her career.

That said, Joseline does a wonderful job of explaining why K. Michelle is such a joy more times than she isn’t when the two greet each other on Joseline’s show, saying of her friend, “She’s beautiful, she’s sexy, and she ain’t no ratchet ass bitch.” Joseline may have been giving her former castmate the glory in that confessional, but it’s certainly a reminder of what makes Joseline such a fascinating and always entertainment television personality.

I enjoy Cardi B on Love & Hip Hop: New York, but she is not the “new Joseline.” Joseline is very much a gumbo of wit, hilarious hubris, keen self-awareness and new growth that Cardi B just hasn’t displayed yet. On her Stevie J & Joseline Go Hollywood, Joseline ends up in Los Angeles—but not with Stevie J, who had already gone on his own to record with Diddy (who somewhat surprisingly makes an appearance on the show).

Once Joseline and Stevie do reconnect, the expected happens. Joseline reminds Stevie she’s going to do her regardless of what he does or does not try to do for her. Which reminds me: I find it funny Stevie J still credits himself for putting Joseline on. Sure, Stevie and Joseline’s sexual relationship may have gotten Joseline a spot on LHHA, but it’s Joseline’s personality that made her a star.

To wit, Joseline makes it quite clear when she explains to Stevie, “You know what you left in Atlanta? The maid. Mimi stayed in Atlanta, not the Puerto Rican Princess.”

Joseline is just too fun to watch. Even when she’s being wrong and even when she’s doing the absolute most. To her credit, she always owns up to it. By the way, for those curious, Joseline is back to looking like WWF personality Sensational Queen Sherri in her confessional interviews. Trust me, it’s a compliment.

Meanwhile, by comparison, Stevie J kind of looks like MC Hammer, right before the creditors came. It’s a great reminder to hoard all of your “trendy” pieces, as they may come back in 20 years.

Joseline and Stevie are angling for bigger dreams—i.e., a movie career—and believe me when I tell you that it’s a pleasure to watch Joseline in acting class. I especially love that she thinks working with Steven Seagal’s acting coach is a good thing. Hopefully, Joseline fulfills her destiny and becomes the hood Sofía Vergara.

If not, I at least hope her spinoff is a great success. The Puerto Rican Princess deserves that. She continues to be so good to us.

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.



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