Miguel entered my consciousness circa 2006 after listening to Blu and Exile’s seminal Below The Heavens. Credited as Miguel Jontel, the singer played a prominent role in the album’s most radio friendly cut, “First Things First,” as well as playing a drastically different role on the ultra-soulful “Cold Rain.” Since 2006, Miguel has dropped a solo album, All I Want Is You, appeared on several Blu cuts (Johnson and Jonson, A Whole Lot Of Soul Partner Vol.1) and released a solo mixtape. Not the most prodigious output over seven years, but enough to keep loyal fans aching for more. I can’t personally say that I’ve been the biggest fan of Miguel’s solo output, but then again, I was an R&B hater until recently. At least he didn’t follow the Pitbull/Flo Rida path into oblivion.
My opinion quickly changed this morning after listening to his latest effort, Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1. The EP is a loud announcement that Miguel is back and ready to take over the scene. Move over Frank Ocean. Move over The Weeknd. D’Angelo, stop the comeback train. This man is doing his thang. “Gravity” is in the future-R&B style recently popularized by The Weeknd, but originated by D’Angelo. With a beat that would sound excellent on its own, Miguel spins a “shooting star” metaphor with only “gravity” keeping him down. A little bit silly? Probably. Corny? Definitely. Whatever, he sounds great over it and beat is undeniably infectious.
“Adorn” is a more low-key banger, but is just as captivating as “Gravity.” With a deep synth growling in the background and an uplifting harmony, the song is tough to stop listening to. With some Flocka esque “woop!”‘s thrown in for good measure, this is easily one of the best R&B tracks I’ve heard in quite some time (maybe since House of Ballons). My only complaint is that the track only clocks in at 2:19.
The third (and unfortunately, final) track, “That I Do (FTRMX)” is a remix of a track off of 2008’s Mischief: The Mixtape. Not as much of a standout as the first two tracks, the remix is definitely an improvement of the 2008 version, but the crescendoing synths and Miguel’s vocals verging on sickeningly over-earnest, it’s lacking something the first two tracks do. Anyways, he’s just doing what he do. Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1 is a loud announcement that Miguel is back and ready to take over the scene. Three songs is far too short to really satiate the listener, but then again it’s just an EP and we can all hope for an album sometime this year. At least some more work with Blu and Exile. They work magic together. Download Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1 below.