The music of Miguel, like Marvin Gaye before him or Britney in her heyday, is like aural K-Y. With an infinity-voice that has unlimited range and a pen as erotic as E.L. James’, Miguel’s discography (think “Adorn” or “Coffee), revolves around the presentation of himself as the ultimate lover.
On War & Leisure, the singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album, the pop/R&B savant introduces the listener to his ideal world where sex, love and appreciation are the cardinal tenants.
War & Leisure begins its 12-track, nearly 50-minute amorous odyssey with the Rick Ross featured “Criminal,” in which the rapper actually compares his lover to legendary black pitcher Satchel Paige because he believes they are both “feeling played, underpaid.” Miguel’s hook, which is undeniably about sex or perfect love, also lends a hand to writers attempting to describe the experience of his music.
“Oh, it’s so good it feels criminal, ha,” sings the carnally inspired Miguel. “This shit’s got to be criminal.”
Production on War & Leisure is an impeccable achievement catalyzed by the presence of big-name players such as Raphael Saadiq, Salaam Remi and Happy Perez. Saadiq’s production, which is all over Solange’s critically revered A Seat at the Table, puts Miguel in the position of new-age big jazz band vocal leader on “Wolf” featuring QUIÑ.
Remi and Perez (a frequent Miguel collaborator), put in their respective production on the album’s show-stealing singles “Told You So,” “Sky Walker” and “Come Through and Chill.” Perez’s production on the Travis Scott-featured “Sky Walker” validates the track’s own name, creating whimsical, ambient space for Miguel’s flexing.
“Top Gun on my Tom Cruise,” brags the singer, “I play for keeps and I don’t lose.”
However, Miguel’s invincibility is nothing without the excellence of teammates like Remi, the famous Nas/Amy Winehouse/The Fugees collaborator behind the gorgeous “Pineapple Skies” and the luxurious booty-call anthem and J.Cole-featured single “Come Through and Chill.” Cole, who takes great pride in eliminating features from much of his discography, is ironically the album’s best guest.
“But if you single and you down then,” explains Cole to a past lover he is seeking, “I’m in your town fiending for another round/ I was counting down the days/ been more patient than a Browns fan.”
Miguel, born to an African-American mother and Mexican father, fully embraces his Latin roots on the Kali Uchis-featured “Caramelo Duro.” For listeners who don’t speak Spanish, Miguel hilariously translates his own second verse in live-time.