That unique, Billie Holiday-esque instrument you hear on Jay-Z’s Kingdom Come and Nas’ Hip Hop Is Dead belongs to Chrisette Michele. After turning down “Irreplaceable” (yes, she passed on one of 2006’s biggest songs), she maintained a musical relationship with Ne-Yo. He executive produced her sophomore album, Epiphany, and penned a few records on it, including the closer, “I’m Okay.”
Every soul singer has an “empty my feelings/love gone wrong” record; however, unlike many of those, Michele gives her ex-lover a stirring message without sounding irate. The record is intense, yet vulnerable–which is quite impressive.
Lyrically, the sultry jazz number is one of Ne-Yo’s finest creations. “Time don’t stop and wait for pain, pain does fade away in time,” she sings over Chuck Harmony’s layered piano-driven production. “I must admit you had me fooled, the love felt real I can’t deny/really wish I did not know the truth, so I could go back to that lovely lie.”
Not only does “I’m Okay” house some of contemporary music’s best lyrics, but one of its best voices. Chrisette’s heart-wrenching, distinctive vocal phrasing makes the glorious awakening a flawless conclusion to the emotional rollercoaster.
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