Kelly Rowland, Endures Sexism from Critics
Columbia Records and the Knowles clan learned how to build the brand that is now “King B” with every misstep made with Kelly Rowland’s debut project. Rowland’s first studio album, the oft forgotten “Simply Deep”, was released on October 28, 2002, hot off the heels of her hugely successful collaboration with St. Louis native Nelly. The formula to success was supposed to contain the following: an irreplaceable piece of the biggest-selling girl group of all time, a fresh #1 single, and a rumored romance with then arguably hip-hop’s biggest star. Simply Deep has only been certified gold compared to her peer’s multiplatinum debut.
The missteps of Simply Deep include, but are not limited to the indie R&B vibe, the collaborations, single choice, and perhaps one of the biggest flaws, the girl-next-door image. With Rowland’s single choice and visuals to back them up, Kelly was never depicted as the chick men wanted to be with and the chick all the girls wanted to be. Coming off of Destiny’s Child Survivor and The Writings on the Wall, two records that made listeners feel sensual and got the club poppin’, it is baffling why Columbia did not steer her towards the vixen/I’m-every-woman route like they did with Beyoncé. So of course conversely, with hotter singles and a hotter booty-bouncing image, Beyoncé debuted Dangerously in Love in the summer of 2003 and snatched pop-R&B diva’s lace front right off their bald-headed scalp.
Enter 2011 and Kelly Rowland’s single Motivation is likely to enter its ssixth week at #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart. The lead single, featuring rap phenom Lil’ Wayne, is accompanied by a sexier Rowland with her hands all over eight-pack adorned men and barely there outfits. Recently, the media has cited Rowland’s star is due to the flamboyancy of her sexual prowess. Obviously, these reporters did not do their Youtube or Vevo homework. If the reporters did they would have found “Comeback” (from her sophomore effort, Miss Kelly), where she displays her sexuality with similar vigor.
Her new album Here I Am, due July 26th, has had some misfires. It was first slated for a release last summer when “Commander” (a song simply about dancing) was red hot overseas, but lukewarm in the U.S., so the album was pushed back. The second misstep with the album was when the release date was announced, numerous tracks were leaked and the Ne-Yo-penned “Grown Ass Woman” faltered on urban radio. So here we are again: Miss Rowland sexing it up, but this time with a single that radio listeners are responding to. A hot record and a hot image equals Miss Rowland’s first bona fide hit since “Dilemma,” and the critics are attributing it to her sexier image.
The question from an intelligent point of view should be why her sexier image attributing to better record sales and radio play are even fodder for discussion. We do not criticize or even mention Rowland’s male counterparts and how they use sex to sell, or how male rappers use street-cred to sell records. One will never hear about a football player criticized for lifting more weights, running more laps, or hitting a little harder. This is not a comparison of apples and oranges. Men and women have been given societal rules that most people are programmed to abide by. We are told men are strong and it is okay for them to be brutes and to go to war if it helps provide for their family. On the other hand, it is said the oldest profession in the world is prostitution, which in mainstream society is a role for a woman. A woman’s sex and sexuality has always moved her along in society. If men did not need women for sexual reproduction, women probably would have been wiped out ages ago. Generally speaking, because women are the physically weaker of the sexes (notice I didn’t say gender) blame that on biology. It was not until the year 1660 that women were first allowed to act in theater productions, and these same women that were accomplished actors were often prostitutes making ends meet.
Through sexual favors and marriage, women have always been able to move forward in society. Many feminists believe this move to be ill-fated; however, I find it a woman’s prerogative to use her sexuality in asserting her autonomy and subverting patriarchal authority. How can we as a society even question Kelly Rowland’s decision to provide for herself by one of the few ways society has told her she can as a woman, but not criticize male athletes for getting faster or stronger? It seems as though women go through unfair sexual politics when this is the policy they are told to abide by. Kelly Rowland is one more sexual video or performance (that goes a little too far) away from being vilified for her sexual nature. Perhaps being vilified will come, perhaps it won’t, but one thing is for sure; Kelly Rowland will not be a victim. While Rowland is displaying her sexuality for male consumption, it is her prerogative, and she is also taking all that male money to the bank, which in turn could help fund the Kelly Rowland Empire.
Learn more about the writer at http://www.svelvetnoose.com and twitter.com/svelvetnooseHis debut Litrary Mixtape “I’m a Nobody–Too” drops August 2nd.