Review: ‘Here I Am’ by Kelly Rowland

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Kelly Rowland. Despite a series of attempts to step out on her own, she’s largely been overshadowed by the presence of her Destiny’s Child leader, Beyoncé. With her new effort, Here I Am, Rowland makes some changes to her attempts, with varied levels of success.

Here I Am opens with what is easily the biggest club banger of her career, “I’m Dat Chick,” and quickly sets up the differences between her and Beyoncé with their current projects. If 4 conveys a theme of relationships and domesticity in newly married life, Here I Am is the single girl’s response: reveling in freedom and frank sexuality.

Nowhere is this more seen than in the album’s lead single, “Motivation.” Punctuated by a throbbing beat and the line “Go, go, go, go,” Rowland produces one of the most sexual – and undeniably sexy – slow jams of the summer. Lines like “And when we’re done / I don’t wanna feel my legs” feel far dirtier than what one would hear from Beyoncé, let alone a standard Destiny’s Child album, but Rowland convincingly sells the song’s sexuality.

Musically, Rowland attempts to cover a lot of ground over the album’s ten tracks. With recent success in both the R&B and dance markets, the songs divide between R&B slow jams, pop songs and dance numbers. It’s an approach that works, in spite of the various tonal shifts that take place over the album, but it could be off-putting to fans of a particular genre.

With Here I Am, Rowland is set to finally establish herself as a success on her own terms, away from connections to Destiny’s Child. “Motivation” is already the biggest single of her career (and a bigger hit than anything Beyoncé’s released recently, to boot). If Rowland and her label are savvy enough with single choices, Rowland can continue to find significant success and finally step out from Beyoncé’s shadow.

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