Miguel’s sound evolves every time he encounters a new way to express love—and as one of pop’s friskiest experimentalists, that means his career is a study in subverting the very notion of a conventional R&B star. The singer/songwriter born Miguel Jontel Pimentel (Los Angeles, 1985) was drawn to music’s insider/outsiders from the beginning, mimicking the moves of Michael Jackson at family gatherings at age three, and later drawing both artistic and sartorial inspiration from the likes of David Bowie, Prince, and Jimi Hendrix. So when it came time for his 2010 debut, All I Want Is You, Miguel flouted tradition by moving elegantly, sexily, both within and beyond his assigned genre. In back-to-back tracks, he slid from boom-bap soul to vulnerable a cappella to uptempo electro-funk. His confidence found composure on 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream, which sounds as Technicolor and wondrous as the title suggests. Single “Adorn” merged timeless soul and modern production as seamlessly as it did deep love and physical longing, while songs like “P**** Is Mine” flipped expectations by casting Miguel as one of his partner’s many lovers, begging for validation. On 2015’s Wildheart, he dove deeper into psych rock, incorporating his own guitar and a Lenny Kravitz cameo into raw, grinding cuts that also supported Kurupt rapping and Miguel singing in Spanish. By 2017’s War & Leisure, he seemed to be flitting across genres just to prove he could: The sunny, pop-adjacent “Pineapple Skies” fit him just as snugly as the trippy, Travis Scott-assisted “Sky Walker.” That latter track seems to best capture the man as he coos out lyrical flexes both winkingly self-aware and genuinely braggy. Chameleon though he may be, Miguel is always Miguel—humorous, smart, and full of passion—no matter the setting.
HOMETOWNSan Pedro, CA
BORNOctober 23, 1985