There are many words you can use to describe Miguel’s career, but one that stands out is longevity. For over a decade now, the San Pedro singer/songwriter has been at the forefront of the constantly evolving R&B scene. There’s his smooth debut All I Want Is You in 2010, his critically-acclaimed experimental opus Kaleidoscope Dream in 2012, psychedelic Wildheart in 2015, and groovy, love-filled War & Leisure in 2017, all of which have shown the multi-faceted, fully-realised vision of Miguel’s artistry. But now, after 9 years, Miguel is returning to his roots, revisiting the fan-favourite Art Dealer Chic EP series.
Speaking on the latest edition in this collection, Miguel stated “I’ve been doing a lot of work to consider and refine my beliefs in the last few years. Inevitably, this brought me back to Art Dealer Chic as ADC is more or less a moniker for active mindset curation; Choosing the thoughts, emotions, and actions that reflect my truest self instead of letting what I’ve experienced or what is expected of me dictate my choices.” Therefore, we’re taking a look back at the history of the ADC EPs, showcasing the evolution that has resulted in the introspective, forward-thinking star we know today.
Art Dealer Chic, Vol 1 – February 27, 2012
Art Dealer Chic, Vol. 1 is a quick dose of the Miguel we would come to know and love. It’s 3 songs that centre around the concept of sensuality, where Miguel, in an open-book manner, confesses his feelings for the Art Dealer Chic protagonist. It opens with ‘Adorn’, a proclamation of love and protection, before heading into ‘That I Do (FTRMX)’ and ‘Gravity’, which both further emphasise the fact that he is head over heels. Sonically, the EP spirals through elements of soul, dance, and alternative R&B sounds, all of which Miguel produced (with some help from Fisticuffs on ‘Gravity’.) The deep bass tones, scattering synths, and driving drum lines hit like the strokes on the canvas that is the EP’s cover.
As a time capsule of Miguel’s mental state, this first volume tells the story of a young artist expressing his affection in the way he knows best; creativity. He uses the expressive nature of the production, the passion in his voice, and the longing in his lyrics to showcase his love at his most unfiltered; a trait that would become a signature in Miguel’s career to come.
Art Dealer Chic, Vol 2 – March 27, 2012
Released only a month after the first volume, Art Dealer Chic, Vol. 2 felt like a continuation of the story in this series, where Miguel’s admissions of affection continue to soar, but this time with some turbulence. It starts with ‘Arch & Point’, a guitar-laced, Fisticuffs-produced anthem where he poetically details the art found in love-making, before heading into ‘…ALL’ and ‘Broads’, which simultaneously describe Miguel’s aspirations of conquering it all in his career, and introduces his troubles in romance..
If the first edition of the series was the luscious, orientation to the love story, Vol. 2 is the complications that arise. The affection is still there, but it showcases the scatter-brain inner monologue that ensues when trying to prioritise yourself, alongside others. On the hook of ‘…ALL’, Miguel sings “I mean, it could be kind of selfish, fuck it, everybody’s selfish,” about his aspirations for further success. And on ‘Broads’, the disconnection between his romantic life and personal aspirations shine through the first verse, where he croons ‘My girl’s searchin’ through my shit right now, probably means I need to quit right now.” Where art was Miguel’s device to showcase love in Vol. 1, it seems to be his therapy to express his struggles with it as a growing figure and developing human here.
Art Dealer Chic, Vol. 3 – April 27, 2012
“No one is perfect, we all lie, life ain’t forever, we all die,” are the first lyrics Miguel sing on Art Dealer Chic, Vol. 3, setting the tone instantly for this edition. The 3 songs that make up this volume are heavier, creating Prince-esque vibes on the opener ‘Party Life’ and ‘Ooh Ahh’ (which originally appeared on his 2008 mixtape Mischief), before heading into the spacious yet grimy sounds of ‘Candles in the Sun, Blowing in the Wind’. Lyrically, it finds Miguel’s moving away from the affection of the EPs before, masking his romantic problems with the life of the party.
The closer ‘Candles in the Sun, Blowing in the Wind’ is the best example of where Miguel’s mind was during this time. It finds him pondering the state of the world and the social chaos, with lyrics like “Business and governments just watch as the innocent fade, mindless bureaucracy fail, hindering government aid.” It showcases the fact that Miguel’s expression of love had changed, searching for it to possess the whole world into a moment of peace, rather than for his pleasure.
Art Dealer Chic, Vol.4 – April 9th, 2021
It took Miguel almost 9 years to return to the next instalment in the Art Dealer Chic series, but rightfully so. Covering that time he released albums like Kaleidoscope Dream (which featured ‘Adorn’, ‘Gravity’, ‘Arch & Point’, and a new rendition of ‘Candles in The Sun’), Wildheart, and War & Leisure, continuing to solidify himself as an R&B superstar. But age 35, the artist saw now as the time to revisit the stream-of-consciousness expression of the series, with a new perspective.
In the time between now and War & Leisure, Miguel has married his partner Nazanin Mandi and mourned the loss of his grandparents. As a result of these life-changing experiences, Miguel has come into this latest edition more open and vulnerable than ever. It opens with ‘Funeral’, which essentially, is classic Art Dealer Chic, laced with sensuality and thumping, experimental production. But this leads into tracks like ‘Triangle Love’, which delves into the depths of an affair, and how it can affect relationships, as well as ‘Thinking Out Loud’, which spirals through the pandemonium of the world’s climate today, describing the anxiety of not having much time left with his love as “Lightning in a glass.”
The EP closes with ‘So I Lie’, a song Miguel describes as ‘a new beginning’ detailing the discomfort he felt writing this song in an Instagram post. The lyrics find Miguel at his most vulnerable yet, detailing his faults and personal shortcomings over the year, contrasted by motivational production, which symbolises the constant strive for growth we all feel. This deep dive into his mental health summarises the journey of the Art Dealer Chic series so far, showcasing Miguel’s experiences through affection, parties, and introspective thinking to continue evolving as not only an artist but a human being. And after already clocking a decade of success across 4 studio albums in the music business, he knows there’s more room to continue developing. The first step? Returning to the series that has always been a device for unabashed, unfiltered expression. Art Dealer Chic, Vol. 4, is the first stroke on a new canvas.