“Anyone who knows my music or knows of me, respects what I do. Anyone who doesn’t respect me, doesn’t know sh*t about me or my music,” says Miguel.
Taking a break between tour dates to chat, Miguel is calm, despite tearing down the stage in a bad a** fringe leather jacket, hours before. “It’s f*cking insane,” he says describing the atmosphere at his last show. “Feeling like you left everything there as well as possibly giving people something to f*cking think about. It’s a great feeling.”
Growing up biracial on 3rd & Center St. in San Pedro, “where the projects start,” Miguel quickly learned he was “different.” Born to a Black mother and Mexican father, the now 29-year-old entertainer struggled to find his identity during a time when racial tensions between Blacks and Mexicans plagued his neighborhood. Reflecting on a time when he didn’t fit in, he says “I started to understand people were paying attention to me and they were asking questions like ‘What are you?’” Being an outside made Miguel self-conscious early on.
“I was the kid who was getting jumped,” he said. “I was the one who had to fight my way out. I did get beat up a couple of times. I did win a couple of fights.” All of which, prepared him for stardom.
“I think on one hand it was a challenge for me and it was also like a blessing in disguise because it made me very comfortable being myself.” Eventually discovering normality is “subjective,” Miguel channeled his uniqueness into music.
“My First album didn’t sound like anything on the radio,” he says. “I’m more likely to step out on a limb now because this is bigger to me than just this moment.”
Honing in on his sound — rock, infused with elements of R&B (something I call “Rock & B”) — the Grammy award-winning artist dropped his third album Wildheart. Sex-filled with high-inducing lyrics complimented by rad guitar riffs and sensual instrumentation, Wildheart is exactly what is sounds like. Let the Prince comparisons fly. Upon second listen, the music’s true intentions are revealed. The disc doubles as a political statement.
The very first line of the first song is “Don’t sell yourself short for acceptance,” he says. “The second song is Deal, which is discussing the relationship between politicians, lobbyist and corporations. There’s a song on the album called, What’s Normal Anyway. There’s a song on the album called Hollywood dreams and it’s about losing yourself chasing your dreams.”
While Wildheart hits on social issues, it is mostly overshadowed by the album’s undeniable sexual energy.
“Even in sex, you start to understand my vulnerabilities, my bravado, my ego, my insecurities,” he explains. “Even if it is something that seems as trivial, redundant or overdone as sex, I’ll never give it to you in a cliché way. “
Being a sex symbol isn’t easy.
His overt sexuality he keeps certain aspects of his love life private. His relationship with model Nazanin Mandi is mostly off-limits. He did reveal they share laughs over stories about futile attempts by groupies on tour.
Miguel recently made headlines for his comments on Frank Ocean that were “misconstrued.” “We work in this industry where media is really about headlines. We live in a time when attention is the ultimate currency,” the Coffee crooner says brushing it off.
“I know what I said and I know what I meant.” He adds, “As far as that goes, that’s really all I have to say about it.
Miguel’s music is the ultimate reflection of him as a man. “I have to create what’s real to me and what makes me feel something,” he says. “I knew some people weren’t going to follow me on this journey and that’s OK.”
In a time when artistry has gone out the window faster than your favorite reality star’s dignity, his reverence for music is refreshing. “You’re never going to please everyone, but you can earn their respect.”