I’m about a full day late on hearing Kelly Rowland’s “Dirty Laundry”, but from what I learned online when excitedly scrolling down for updates, this new track from Talk a Good Game would be an extremely autobiographical ballad that finally reveals how she felt about seeing Beyoncé run the world, and revelations of a past abusive relationship. Beyond eager to hear the song, especially after reading some lyrics in which The-Dream, who co-penned, got Kelly to curse out her frustration, I made sure to be all ears this morning.
Once the song had completed its 5-minute run, my praise for the song joins the rest. Musically, there’s something very ’90s R&B about its stream-of-consciousness beat in the solemn topics department. It’s mellowed yet contains plenty of suspenseful piano drops, reminding me of Sparkle’s “Be Careful” in particular. Kelly’s voice is agonized but determined, possibly having never expressed herself so openly and contemplative in a song before.
What could’ve been a caterwauling attack on hardships and best friends, “Dirty Laundry” arrives at a good place in Rowland’s career. Since her first solo LP Simply Deep in 2002, she has achieved success at last as Kelly, following 2011’s lascivious “Motivation” and its fun album Here I Am. When Destiny’s Child were the number one girl group in the world however, there were always thoughts of when it would be Kelly’s turn to shine. We all questioned while watching them on MTV winning VMAs and on magazine covers on which she was conveniently placed to the side of a certain blonde-coiffed bombshell, what about Kelly? Seemingly, Beyoncé was universally loved, but there’s always hope for the underdog, which without Kelly’s consent such a title was awarded to her. With each single released, DC3 fans and interested critics wondered, would this be the one for her?
Based upon the gale of reactions that were written, a near jubilant layer of relief was displayed at Kelly for admitting some kind of jealousy towards Beyoncé’s omnipresence. This was telling of how Kelly had been perceived up until “Motivation” earned her a Grammy nod without King B’s name anywhere to be found on the credits. Referring to Mrs. Carter as her sister and having been happy for her reign, in “Dirty Laundry”, Kelly is mature and honest about having felt inadequate, and it’s interesting to see that some reflexes transpire as as if Kelly somehow owed us an explanation about her implosion of envy (atop of her lyrical inclusion of the physical abuse she experienced with a lover that became a living nightmare; bringing DC3’s track “Girl” into perspective). It was like all the compliments were overzealous chants of “C’mon…admit it…you’re jealous! Let it out!”
Hitherto, “Dirty Laundry” has been heralded as “brave” and “strong”, and rightfully so. While the overall sound is a departure for her, wouldn’t you feel the same if you and Michelle were dressed in red, but Beyoncé was in yellow, like in the “Survivor” video? Couldn’t Michelle or Kelly at least be given a different color of their own? Kelly and Michelle were treated as the sons of Beyoncé, and it was never fair, making lyrics like “Kinda lucky to be in her shadow” a heartrending afterglow to be seeped in as the audience. Upon hearing, you’ll want to cheer Kelly’s long-awaited tell-all of hurt and victory on, even if at times, the track is so real on reflecting those feeling of being hanged out to dry too many times than you’re comfortable with.
The playfully sexual “Kisses Down Below” was chosen as the first single for Talk a Good Game, but it looks like “Dirty Laundry” will be the track to really get fans frenzied and supportive of her solo work because Kelly exposed herself as something we all can relate to through her music: I’m human.
–C. Shardae Jobson (@lavishrebellion)
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