Kelly Rowland has settled into a career as a successful R&B singer, but for a while it didn’t seem like that would be the case. From late 2007 up until the 2011 summer smash “Motivation,” Rowland all but disappeared from popular music, releasing a string of singles that never caught on. (At least not in America — in England she had a run of hits with Travis McCoy and David Guetta.) On her new single “Dirty Laundry” — co-written and produced by The-Dream — she sings about that tumultuous period in her career, with Beyoncé as the specter casting a shadow over her life.
The track starts with Rowland laying out her state of mind — “Post-‘Survivor’ she on fire / who wanna hear my bullshit?” — before gradually getting more detailed and personal. As swooping strings begin to further dramatize the track, she sings about an abusive relationship with a man who drove a wedge between her and Beyoncé. She ends the track with its most powerful line: “He turned me against my sister / I missed ya.” Though the track will certainly be fodder for tabloids and gossip blogs, it is bravely naked and executed with a graceful strength. Given The-Dream’s close relationship with Beyoncé, his involvement is crucial.
Rowland’s new album Talk a Good Game will be out June 18.