TGJ Replay: Kelly Rowland’s ‘Ms. Kelly’

Published: Wednesday 18th Feb 2015 by Rashad
tgj replay-miss kelly

Welcome back to TGJ Replay!

Designed much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ features, ‘Replay’ is That Grape Juice‘s newest reflective segment to act as a written quest to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday. Unlike its retrospective predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase entire albums (and eras) from a library of pop and Urban pop music hits.

Now, as fans ready themselves for the muchly anticipated follow-up to R&B diva Kelly Rowland‘s ‘Talk A Good Game,’ we reflect on the album that really put her on the genre’s map by her lonesome – ‘Ms. Kelly.’

“‘I wrote a lot on this album and I’ve had a wonderful time recording it. It’s a feelgood record; very intimate. It’s a sneak peak into my mind and heart.  I listened to a lot of Whitney Houston for her vocals. I love her. I love Beyoncé’s voice, and I love Brandy. Those are three vocalists who inspire me. I love how different they are. I love how they take themselves to the next level.'” – Kelly Rowland, 2006

Join us as we flashback to 2007…

After a successful regrouping in 2004 with ‘Destiny Fulfilled,’ the next year saw the ladies of Destiny’s Child opt yet again to part ways to venture down respective solo paths.  Group leader Beyonce would traipse back into the studio to put the finishing touches on her highly anticipated solo sophomore album ‘BDay’ and movies ‘Pink Panther’ and ‘Dreamgirls’ while Michelle Williams readied her heels for GAP and new forays into television and Broadway.

Unlike her bandmates, 2005 would see Kelly Rowland dodge another bite from the acting bug and go straight to work on her solo sophomore release, the follow-up to her 2002 debut album ‘Simply Deep.’ Lined with the moderate hit singles ‘Stole’ and ‘Can’t Nobody,’ ‘Deep’s gold U.S. sales – and later 2.5 million united moved worldwide – shone as proof of her viability as a solo star despite constant media and fan comparisons to the success of her former band and its hitmaking leader.  This, in conjunction with stiffened competition in the form of  Letoya Luckett, another of the group’s former members, who also landed a #1 album in 2006 with her self-titled debut project.

The ever-mounting pressure to succeed would finally be answered via ‘My Story’ – a mid-tempo and ballad-heavy affair reminiscent of ‘Fulfilled’ filled with deeply personal songs that, according to Rowland, were based on and collected from happenings in her life over the three years prior.  Detailing the singer’s ‘love & relationship’ woes (a presumed reference to failed engagement to Dallas Cowboys star Roy Williams),  the album – also like ‘Fulfilled’ – would be kicked off with an uptempo number completely unrepresentative of the body of work-at-large.  Tapping ‘Gotsta Go’ as its inaugural single,  the Da Brat-assisted jam would be unveiled at the year’s MTV Asia Awards ceremony.

Despite a warm critical reception, ‘Gotsta Go’ ended up living up to its own titling as Rowland found herself displeased with the general sonic nature of the tune and its parent album.  Multiple unceremonious leaks of other material from ‘Story’ over the year not only repeatedly caused the album’s pushback, but sent the songstress back into the studio to rework its sound and concept to produce a fresher body of work.

Calling on the likes of Bryan Michael Cox, Scott Storch, Stargate, Rodney Jerkins, Robin Thicke, Tank, Polow Da Don, Rockwilder, and more, Rowland would (to some degree) ditch the “deeply personal” angle to put her artistic and vocal growth in the front seat.  Acting as executive producer of the project, newly christened ‘Ms. Kelly,’ the album was set to show off the then-26 year old’s newfound confidence and creative maturity.

The first example of the aforementioned was found aboard the album’s new lead single ‘Like This.’

Launched March 2007, the tune – written by Sean Garrett – enlisted help from hitmaking rapstress Eve and was immediately lauded for its sassy lyrics and not-so-indirect jab at former-fiance Roy Williams.  

Boasting slick choreography and a sexiness all but teased in the days of ‘Destiny Fulfilled,’ ‘Like This’ would further catapult the singer’s ascent into divadom by reshaping her image and see her slowly, but surely, shed the “safety” of her previous hints at sexuality.

By the time she regrouped with her DC3-bandmates for a one-time BET Awards performance of the number in summer 2007, it had already risen to #30 on the Hot 100 (where it peaked) and #7 on R&B charts.

The BET showing came afront a slew of media appearances and performances to promote the project across the globe.  And, by July, the album’s first week chart performance proved those efforts far from futile.

On one hand, critics praised ‘Ms. Kelly’ for being an urban affair that flirted with fusions of progressive R&B, pop, crunk music, and rhythmic dance with a sonic diversity that was enough to keep Kelly’s “growth” familiar to fans without ever wandering into lanes of inauthenticity.  More importantly, despite citing sounds from Beyonce, Brandy, and Whitney Houston as direct influences for those found on the album, Rowland’s inspiration was never lost on grounds of replication.

On the other hand, said critical reception manifested itself into a respectable inaugural week chart showing as the project soared to #6 on the wings of 86,700 sold.  The feat not only gave the songstress her first top 10 on the Billboard 200, but the numbers remain her best first week sales to date.

To keep up the momentum, Rowland & co. originally tapped the seductive ‘Come Back’ as the follow-up to the album’s leading top 40 smash.  That plan was later dashed, however, as label execs favored the Snoop Dogg-assisted ‘Ghetto’ instead.

The move not only came as a lowlight of the era, but also a huge misstep  overall as it missed the Hot 100 entirely. To date, it is her worst performing single on the Hot 100 tally.

Rebound, however, proved itself only a few heel taps away as the team selected ‘Work’ as the album’s final international release. Unknown to some, ‘Work’ was originally due to be ‘Ms. Kelly’s leading single before the songstress requested ‘Like This’ be serviced to radio in its place.  Initial fears that it lacked commercial viability were seemingly long gone by the time the song – lyrically and, to degrees, sonically reminiscent of her group’s 2004 comeback single ‘Lose My Breath’ – saw its rocking music video hit the airwaves.

A boost, in the form of an Indian-inspired remix by popular British production duo Freemasons, would skyrocket the single to even higher heights internationally.  Working its way to the top 10 in England, Turkey, France, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, and more, it would only improve the songstress’s already sold solo impact on the European market and become her fourth most successful international release to date.

Stateside fans cried foul after ‘Work’ (its original and remix version) were both denied release in the US and the promotional buck ultimately stopped.  While never officially released, Rowland was able to shoot a music video for the ever-sexy ‘Comeback,’ yet it too – alongside other intended single ‘Still In Love With My Ex’ – saw no support from Columbia.

kelly rowland-thatgrapejuice

When the dust settled, with no Grammy nomination, no top 20 singles, and barely 220k sold in the U.S., the album was considered by many to be a commercial failure.  Alas, let us tell it, the record was a professional “investment” of sorts. Indeed, in its ability to not only increase Rowland’s social stardom on both sides of the pond, it birthed a number of professional ventures (see: ‘X Factor,’ endorsement deals) that have kept the singer’s name in mention with the genre’s leading ladies.

Additionally, as her last album under Columbia and the management of Matthew Knowles, it would allow her the creative freedom and control to locate a new label home that would treat her project (and the promotion thereof) as more of its priority.  From there, as we know, the story would lead her to Universal Motown where she would birth her biggest hit to date –  ‘Motivation ft. Lil Wayne.’

Lastly, the critical praise lent to ‘Ms. Kelly’ finally demonstrated the diva’s ability to stand on her own, give wings to a distinctive sound, and finally carve the individual niche that would separate her sonically from DC3 and, more importantly, Beyonce.  For that, despite being one of the year’s most criminally underrated efforts, we salute the sophomore release of Kelly Rowland and look forward to what album #5 will bring later this year!

Now, while we still bump ‘Every Thought Is You’ (which clearly deserved to be a single), tell us:


Your thoughts?

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  1. britneyraycarey February 18, 2015

    this bitchh is untalented

    • Molly February 18, 2015

      And she resembles a horse.

      • RowlandStones February 18, 2015

        But honey ciara is a man!!

      • britneyraycarey February 18, 2015

        lmao right Molly!

    • DEL BEY February 18, 2015

      but Britney is a hot air balloon, as for miley virus, lets not..

  2. Molly February 18, 2015

    Did this album go gold? or was it another? ki

    • #JACKIE (Cici da baddest) February 18, 2015

      No sis she hasn’t gone gold since 2002 lol

    • Tyler February 18, 2015

      The Prince Is Heeerrreeee…..
      HEaaaarrrraaaa lolol

      • Molly February 18, 2015

        You’re so tired Tyler go get and new hobby and stop stalking my comments.

    • RowlandStones February 18, 2015

      But really who’s ciara???

    • RowlandStones February 18, 2015

      But really tho can we get a good answer to when we ask who is Ciara ?? I mean really what impact has she had on the Industry at all ???

      • D February 20, 2015

        Who is Ciara?Kelly stated that one of her inspirations in recording “Motivation” was CIARA’s “RIDE.” She stated she wanted to make a song similar to that.So go ask Kelly cause she seems to know.

  3. #JACKIE (Cici da baddest) February 18, 2015

    Nobody bought this damn album kii. Kelly stay flopping

    • Black power February 18, 2015

      When’s the last time Ciara saw a certification?

      • Al February 18, 2015

        More times than Kelly did so take a seat bigthod

    • RowlandStones February 18, 2015

      But who is Ciara is the question everybody wants to know??

      • Al February 18, 2015

        Who’s debut are we gonna remember in years to come between Ciara and Flop land?! Hmmm rest my case take a seat.

      • Queen RiRi February 18, 2015

        B**** you guessing , Ciara hasn’t seen a certification since my goodies was out lmfao stop with the lies lmao.

      • Queen RiRi February 18, 2015

        @Al that’s cute and all but who going to be remembered period??? Kelly Rowland or Ciara …. I’ll wait ?? Kelly Rowland.

      • Al February 18, 2015

        Who is gonna remember any of Kellys solo stuff in Yeats to come no one maybe Dilema but that’s Nelly’s. Ciara was good until after Get Up

  4. FutureCIARA February 18, 2015

    This album had some BOPS!!!! No lies

  5. The Beysus Impact February 18, 2015

    The Freemasons remix of “Work” though…

    Anyway @Beyonce_Stats: Beyoncé and JAY Z’s 2 shows in Paris were the 10th highest grossing shows reported to Pollstar in 2014 (outside US) http://t.co/4gPEnzLneC

  6. Sonia February 18, 2015

    Don’t hate on somebody like that she is doing her thing while y guys are being jealous of her success.
    Negative people she is a better singer than those of this people that have more success.
    Just let her be who she is and please don’t compare her with someone else.
    Do you guys compare yourself with your friends.

    • Al February 18, 2015

      What fukin name Sonia?! Have u got ginger hair child take a seat and a hair dye #Tango

  7. Sonia February 18, 2015

    She is Kelly Rowland and not I don’t know.

  8. Kyle February 18, 2015

    Her Beyonce ass licking is annoying as hell. How you gon say she inspired you when you both started out together at the same stage! This girl enjoys degrading herself! #FacePalm

  9. Karel February 18, 2015

    Love this album ( both versions) This is Love gives me chills!!!

  10. Al February 18, 2015

    Why the 90 page review on Kelly Flopland and everyone else normally gets a few paragraphs Christ you would of thought this was a Beyonce album review. Album flopped due to lack of decent material

  11. NENE February 18, 2015

    she is still on top 5 of female flopping of all time.

    1. Ciara
    2. Kelly Rowland
    3. Brandy
    4. Keri Hilson
    5. Jennifer Hudson

    • PeaceMaker February 18, 2015

      Add the Elusive flopteuse to that list

      • TheElusiveLamb February 18, 2015

        The third selling female artist of all time and 8th top selling selling artist of all time of far from a flop. 13/14 certified albums and current era had a number one dance hit and a top 15 hit. Try again dust bunny.

    • RowlandStones February 18, 2015

      Someone who sold 87 million records worldwide and has a star on the Hall of Fame is not a flop …. Now Ciara is a flop

      • NENE February 18, 2015

        I’m not talking about DC. I agree with you Ciara is a huge Flop.

      • KeKe February 18, 2015

        Lol keep clinging to dc receipts wont change that kelly is a big fat flop that lives in beyonces shadow

      • Rowlandstones February 18, 2015

        But 87 million records sold is with and without Dc…. So like I was saying

    • jrizz February 18, 2015

      no, you must of forgot the people that could barely top 20K.. At least the girls in this top 5 make money through their singles, shows, endorsements, acting, and tv shows.

      1. Nicole S from Pussycat dolls
      2. Michelle Williams
      3. Teyana Taylor
      4. Kreayshawn
      5. Mya

    • jrizz February 18, 2015

      Real top five flops. don’t come for my girls Kelly and Ciara whom have had platinum certifications of some sort within the last five years ish…

      Real flops:

      1. Nicole S from Pussycat dolls
      2. Michelle Williams
      3. Teyana Taylor
      4. Kreayshawn
      5. Mya (she only releases music in Japan now 🙁
      6. dare I saw Xtina now 🙁

  12. Twatface February 18, 2015

    Unity from the deluxe version gets my vote, still in love with my ex is from the options above.

    • lolhart February 18, 2015

      I love Unity. Will never understand why that wasn’t a single.

  13. Navy February 18, 2015

    You can’t call Kelly a Flop when she has a star on the hall walk of fame and all her albums are platinum except for talk a good game. Now Ciara lmao that’s a flop.

    • KeKe February 18, 2015

      B**** pls none of kellys solo albums are platinum sit ur lying ass down

      • Navy February 18, 2015

        B**** check have no reason to lie….. All her albums are and food stamps lol your funny the only one who has food stamps is you and your fav and she needs it ciara ain’t selling nothing but her p**** .

    • Al February 18, 2015

      U sure all her albums are platnuim girl take a seat Ms Kelly ain’t scanned a Million we biether has the rest prob combined so take a seat with ya food stamps

  14. Beyhive February 18, 2015

    But yall know better then to have your favs name up here because we would read you … Crazy b****

    • Navy February 18, 2015

      I was just thinking the same thing …. Stupid ass b******.

  15. Sarah February 18, 2015

    Seriously cannot choose one favorite song from this album! This album turned me into a Kelly Fan…from Like This..to Flashback..to Better Without You!! Columbia really shitted on her with this masterpiece..until Talk a Good Game this was my favorite Kelly album..
    FYI why are these Ciara fans trying to start a stan war..that is so pathetic!! I cannot wait for Ciara’s new album just as i am anticipating Kelly’s ..spread positivity and stop spreading hate you dumb b&tches

  16. Hahaha February 18, 2015

    This is the era Kelly became her own artist in my eyes, rather that ‘that b**** from Destiny’s Child’.
    LOVE the Bollywood-meets-Contemporary R&B production and Eve feature on ‘Like This’! Probably my favourite song by her!

  17. DC3 Fan February 18, 2015

    Great article! I wish people knew how to “stan” for one artist without putting down another. You can like or dislike whoever you want, that’s your right, but stop being so hateful.*sheesh*..And for the love of God stop using the word “flop”. lol Idiots

  18. TheElusiveLamb February 18, 2015

    I loved that Comeback video. I think Kelly is such a Barbie doll. She’s just so gorgeous.
    ___

    Anyway, I would say Still In Love With My Ex & Comeback are her best on this album, but I personally feel that her artistry has grown like crazy on Here I Am & Talk A Good Game. I’m looking forward to her new era.

  19. Pedro Koor February 18, 2015

    BEST ALBUM EVER! THE BIBLE OF R&B!

  20. Matthew Charlery-Smith February 18, 2015

    Simply Deep was better lyrically, musically and vocally. It’s silly how Kelly blamed the failure of this album on “Too many ballads and mid tempos” then did the exact same thing again with TAGG. She just doesn’t know how to promote and fails to connect with her fan base in any positive and useful way. It’s a shame because no Black artist has done such a popular rap/sung record as she did with “Dilemma” or had such major international success in the last 15/20 years with EDM as she did with “When Love Takes Over”, “Commander” and “What a Feeling”.

    Her career remains one of Pop music’s biggest disappointments. So much potential untapped and I fear it’s too late now. What did she say in DC on TWOTW, “Thou shalt move on to the next”… OK Kelly, we have!

    • DC3 Fan February 18, 2015

      I don’t think it’s “too late”. As long as she’s recording & releasing music, the possibilities are limitless. I think Kelly Rowlands greatest success is yet to come. I don’t think any of Destinys children have reached their creative peak yet, but I can guarantee you that they will. Kelly is working on a new album as we speak. And whether it’s a commercial success or not, I’m certain that it will be an amazing body of work.

  21. HYISI February 18, 2015

    I liked Simply Deep more but this album was great as well! Flashback,Comeback,Every thought is you,the show,love,this is love,better without! I keep telling people 2007 was the last year quality R&B was released for artist as a whole.I’ll always support the members of Destiny’s Child, the only album that suckered was Here I Am,TAG is her best album to date though just pure excellence! Hopefully she’ll give us simply deep vocals, with music like miss Kelly and TAGG.I love Beyoncé, but I’ve always felt Kelly had the better catalog overall.

  22. BeyRihLiyah February 18, 2015

    FLOP FLOP and more FLOP she never makes good albums #YAWN

  23. credits February 18, 2015

    The Brandy influence is real.

  24. Mark111 February 18, 2015

    I remember going to the store to pick this up, because at the time I supported all R&B. Then I seen TI’s Ti Vs TIP right beside it and bought that album instead. Great choice I made.

  25. Cookie February 18, 2015

    FLOP

  26. Kemar (@S_C_Jr on Twitter) February 18, 2015

    This era was just a mess. Promo was unorganized as was the choices of the singles. Still In Love With My Ex (my favorite song on this album), Work and Comeback should’ve been the follow up singles to Like This. NOT boring ass “Ghetto”. The album itself is solid (toss up between this and Talk A Good Game as my favorite); very, very good but poor management and bad decisions killed this album, which is sad because I think this could’ve been Kelly’s breakthrough album.

  27. AnnaliseKeatingsNewWeave February 18, 2015

    I liked the album a lot better when it was called “My Story: Kelly Rowland”; at the time the songs had more of a direction and the album had a more personal touch. Now that I look back on it, It feels like a lot of the original songs were about her abusive relationship and she wanted to make it a more uptempo positive album when she changed it to “Ms. Kelly’. But Kelly is like Mary J Blige… her best music is her music about heartbreak.

  28. Timago February 19, 2015

    SMELLY FLOPLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Rowland February 19, 2015

    As a solo artist she sold 35 m record . Only lonely ugly ass MF who hate on Kelly, she is under appreciated yes but she has more money, fame and talent than all of you b******. All of her albums are great except the first one TAAG was the best R&B album 2013 .

  30. jrizz February 19, 2015

    Real top five flops. don’t come for my girls Kelly and Ciara whom have had platinum certifications of some sort within the last five years ish…
    Real flops:
    1. Nicole S from Pussycat dolls
    2. Michelle Williams
    3. Teyana Taylor
    4. Kreayshawn
    5. Mya (she only releases music in Japan now 🙁
    6. dare I saw Xtina now 🙁

  31. Musika February 20, 2015

    New kids be like “GTA V brought me here” smh 😀

  32. D February 20, 2015

    Love Kelly and this album though…Can’t pick a fav song.

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