Singer, songwriter, and producer Miguel spent a handful of years behind the scenes prior to his breakthrough as a Grammy-winning specialist in carnal pop-R&B ballads. When he was 16, the San Pedro, California native born Miguel Jontel Pimentel was involved with production company Drop Squad. Three years later, he was offered a slot in Fatty Koo, and even appeared on the R&B group’s BET reality show, but he turned the position down and eventually signed with the Black Ice label. In 2006, “Getcha Hands Up!” was issued as a single, and its video aired on BET. An album, Young & Free, was planned for release with distribution from Universal, but it was never issued. By that point, he was becoming increasingly known in the underground through his collaborative work with Blu, Exile, and Daz-I-Kue.
Miguel signed a solo deal with Jive in 2007 and continued to work with underground and major-label artists. Most notably, he co-wrote Jaheim’s “Finding My Way Back,” nominated for the Best R&B Song Grammy award. In 2010, Usher’s Raymond v. Raymond, featuring two songs he co-wrote, was issued just prior to his own “All I Want Is You,” a Top Ten hit on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Parent album All I Want Is You followed that November and reached the Top Ten of the R&B Albums chart, as well as the Top 40 of the Billboard 200. “Sure Thing” (number one R&B, number 36 Billboard 200) and “Quickie” (number three R&B) sustained its success. Once Wale’s Miguel-assisted Top 40 pop hit “Lotus Flower Bomb” was well on its way to a platinum certification, Miguel resumed solo output with a trilogy of three-song EPs dubbed Art Dealer Chic. These intermediary releases led to Kaleidoscope Dream in October 2012. The full-length was nominated for a Grammy award in the category of Best Urban Contemporary Album, while “Adorn,” his second number one R&B single, was nominated for three awards and won for Best R&B Song. The following year, the album’s “How Many Drinks?” was nominated as well. “#Beautiful,” a collaboration with Mariah Carey, was released in May 2013 and went platinum.
Appearances on albums by J. Cole, Big Sean, Jessie Ware, Santana, Ludacris, A$AP Rocky, and Hudson Mohawke preceded Miguel’s third album, Wildheart, which was released in June 2015. Like his previous album, it debuted within the Top Five of the Billboard 200. Wildheart featured guest appearances by Kurupt and Lenny Kravitz and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category. Collaborations including a duet with Dua Lipa, along with a few singles such as “2 Lovin U,” produced by DJ Premier, and “Sky Walker,” featuring Travi$ Scott, preceded the December 2017 release of War & Leisure. ~ David Jeffries & Andy Kellman