Ms. Kelly is Kelly Rowland's second studio album that was released on June 20, 2007 by Columbia Records and Music World Entertainment.
- Like This (featuring Eve) 3:35
- Comeback 3:26
- Ghetto (featuring Snoop Dogg) 2:55
- Work 3:28
- Flashback 4:21
- Every Thought Is You 3:56
- The Show (featuring Tank) 3:36
- Interlude 1:00
- Still In Love With My Ex 3:38
- Love 3:51
- Better Without You 3:57
- This Is Love 4:46
In 2002, Kelly Rowland teamed up with rapper Nelly to record the chorus and vocals on the track "Dilemma" for his album "Nellyville."
Released as the album's second single, the song became one of the most successful singles of the year, topping various charts worldwide, including the Billboard Hot 100.
The album was originally scheduled to be released in early 2003, but the success of the collaboration caused the label to extend the release date of Rowland's debut solo album "Simply Deep" which she rushed within three weeks to get done and featured a mixture of Alternative R&B and rock music.
Released in the United States in October 2002 and internationally in 2003, "Simply Deep" was certified gold by the RIAA and has sold 602,000 copies in the United States.
Released to an even bigger success in international territories, the album topped the UK Albums Chart and became a gold-seller in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, resulting in worldwide sales total of two and a half million copies.
The album yielded three singles. "Stole", a pop rock-influenced mid-tempo track about loss, was released as the album's lead single and became an international top-ten hit single, peaking at number two in Australia and the United Kingdom.
In the United States, the song failed to capitalize on the success of "Dilemma", reaching the top 30 only.
After a three-year hiatus that involved concentration on individual solo projects, Rowland rejoined Beyoncé Knowles and Michelle Williams for Destiny's Child's final studio album, "Destiny Fulfilled" released in November 2004.
Meanwhile, Rowland had started work on the conception of her second solo studio album. She began collaborating with songwriter-producer Bryan Michael Cox, partner WyldCard, and production duo CKB.
Some of their early recordings, including "Bad Habit" and "Flashback", were later included on Destiny's Child's final studio album as well as the group's live DVD "Destiny's Child: Live in Atlanta" respectively.
As she was anxious to avoid hasty productions as on her previous album (which she felt was less personal), Rowland took a wider role in the production of the album; the singer co-wrote the majority of the songs and shared ideas in which one to produce.
She told CNN: "I wrote a lot on this record [...] and it's especially from me [to my fans]. It's a feelgood record; very intimate. It's a sneak peak into my mind and heart of the past three or four years."
The opening song and lead single "Like This" (which features rap from Eve) was one of the last songs recorded for the album. Noted for the use of a cowbell in its melody, the single was first released in March 2007 to mixed reviews and became Rowland's highest-charting solo single since "Stole."
The second track, titled "Comeback", is one of the two tracks Scott Storch contributed to the album.
Planned to be released as the album's second single, Rowland shot a music video for the track with director Philip Andelman in July 2007; however, when a single release failed to materialize, the video premiered on Rowland's official YouTube account in early 2008.
"Ghetto" is set as the third track and features rapper Snoop Dogg. Originally recorded for the shelved My Story, the crunk-influenced track was released as the album's second single in North America in August 2007, where it achieved minor success, reaching number nine on the US Billboard Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart only.
The album's fourth track, "Work", was written after returning from a night out in Miami and rushed in "like twenty minutes."
An up-tempo composition featuring funk production and go-go elements, it was released as the album's second international single during the first quarter of 2008 and enjoyed major international commercial success, emerging as the highest-charting single off the album.
The synthesized "Flashback" is the fifth track of the album and had previously appeared on Destiny's Child's video album, "Live in Atlanta."
Released to generally lukewarm reviews, the San Francisco Chronicle called it "positively lackluster".
"Every Thought Is You" (a ballad produced by Rockwilder) received positive feedback from critics, with About.com noting it "a classy, well-sung mid-tempo track about healthy infatuation".
The seventh track "The Show" features a guest appearance by singer Tank, who produced the track. It's followed by an one-minute-long interlude.
The ninth track "Still in Love with My Ex" was rumored to be about Rowland's ex-fiancée Roy Williams.
The tenth track "Better Without You" speaks about a protagonist who feels better after ending a relationship. It's followed by the eleventh track "Love."
The album closes with a love song "This Is Love."
"Ms. Kelly" peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200, #2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, #16 on Billboard's Digital Albums chart and #9 on Billboard's Top Tastemaker Albums chart.
The album spent 11 weeks on the chart and as of July 2011, it has sold 22,000 copies in the United States.
"Ms. Kelly" received generally positive reviews from music critics.
At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of hundred to reviews from mainstream critics, it received an average score of 70, based on ten reviews.
Alex Macpherson of The Guardian gave the album four and a half stars out of five. He complimented the album as "poised, dignified and completely lacking in the hysteria normally associated with R&B divas giving vent to their feelings" but felt that "the emotions simmering beneath her glassy, controlled tones are as raw as any Mary J. Blige classic."
Ben Williams of the New York Post referred the album as a "mostly upbeat record that soulfully delves into contemporary funk."
Entertainment Weekly found that "after a blah solo debut with 2002's Simply Deep, Kelly Rowland — assisted by producers like Scott Storch and Polow Da Don — brings the noise and the funk to her vibrant follow-up.
Newsday writer Glenn Gamboa remarked that with Ms. Kelly, Rowland "doesn't dabble in various genres. She doesn't try to push the envelope. Rowland does what she does best: She cranks out one potential pop hit after another. Ms. Kelly shows that Rowland knows her strengths and that she intends to keep playing to them."
Andy Kellman from AllMusic found that Ms. Kelly "sounds like an album where Rowland is mostly sorting through some deeply personal relationship issues with a couple relatively lighthearted songs thrown in for variety."
He noted that "all-around, the album does provide a stronger set of songs than 2002's Simply Deep. The material tends to be kind of insidious, rather than hitting you immediately or going through one ear and out the other."
Giving the album three stars out of five, he also remarked that "the lyrics [...] are direct and specific, going beyond basic breakup material."
Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani stated that, "this time around, both the production and lyrics are stronger." He praised the "bona fide club jams" on the album.
Billboard wrote that while "Rowland may never upstage her superstar groupmate Beyonce, but she certainly has the vocal chops and charm to stand on her own stiletto-clad feet. Compared with her gospel-fueled 2002 solo debut, Rowland appears confident and dominant on foot-stompers [and] though still short of career-defining, Ms. Kelly finds its author opening up more while welcoming the possibility that destiny may just find another star."
In a mixed review for About.com, Mark Edward Nero characterized the album as "basically one by someone with the persona of a backup player who's been thrust in a lead role." While he praised songs such as "Work" and "Like This," Nero felt that the album contained too many "weak songs" and that Rowland, "although she may feel comfortable in the role, can't carry the full weight — just like Scottie Pippen never could with the [Chicago] Bulls."
Dotmusic's Jaime Gill called Ms. Kelly "old-fashioned", writing that "Rowland's big problem is that she has the lungs but not the voice [...] She can holler like Beyoncé, growl like Kelis or swoon like Aaliyah, but has little to no natural style of her own."
Ken Capobianco's review for The Boston Globe was more emphatic dubbing it "a solid if somewhat safe set of grooves, but the album never takes full flight to become something special."