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A native of Los Angeles, California's San Pedro community, Miguel Jontel Pimentel was involved at the age of 16 with the production company Drop Squad. Three years later, he was offered a slot in Fatty Koo, and appeared on the R&B group's BET reality show, but he turned the position down and eventually signed a solo deal with distribution from major-label Universal. In 2005, "Getcha Hands Up!" was issued as a promotional solo single, and its accompanying video -- showcasing Miguel's dancing skills -- aired on BET. An album, Young & Free, was planned for release, but it was never issued. By that point, Miguel was becoming increasingly known in the underground through his collaborative work with Blu, Exile, and Daz-I-Kue.
Miguel signed a solo deal with Jive in 2007 and continued to work with underground and major-label artists. By the end of the decade, he placed songs on albums by Musiq Soulchild and Asher Roth. He experienced major growth during 2010. Jaheim's "Finding My Way Back," a song he co-wrote, reached number 12 on Billboard's R&B/hip-hop hit (and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Song). Miguel also co-wrote a pair of the Jam & Lewis-produced songs that appeared on Usher's Raymond v. Raymond, which topped the Billboard 200 just before Miguel made his proper solo debut with the atmospheric hip-hop soul of "All I Want Is You," a Top Ten R&B/hip-hop hit. The parent album, All I Want Is You, followed that November and reached the Top Ten of the R&B/hip-hop albums chart, as well as the Top 40 of the Billboard 200, boosted by "Sure Thing" (number one R&B, number 36 Billboard 200) and "Quickie" (number three R&B). Once Wale's Miguel-assisted Top 40 pop hit "Lotus Flower Bomb" was well on its way to platinum certification, Miguel resumed his solo output in early 2012 with a trilogy of three-song EPs dubbed Art Dealer Chic.
The intermediate releases led to Kaleidoscope Dream, which entered the R&B/hip-hop chart at number one and crossed into the Billboard 200 Top Five in October 2012. The RCA-issued full-length was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Urban Contemporary Album, while "Adorn," Miguel's second number one R&B/hip-hop single, was nominated for three awards and won for Best R&B Song. The following year, the album's "How Many Drinks?" was nominated as well. Stardom notwithstanding, Miguel remained available for outside work. "#Beautiful," a collaboration with Mariah Carey, was issued in May 2013 and went platinum. Miguel also devoted time between albums to sessions for J. Cole, Janelle Monáe, Big Sean, Jessie Ware, A$AP Rocky (the gold "Everyday"), Mac Miller (the platinum "Weekend"), and Hudson Mohawke.
Miguel's third album, Wildheart, was released in June 2015. Like his previous full-length, it debuted within the Top Five of the Billboard 200, reaching number two and landing in the same spot on the R&B/hip-hop chart. Less melodic than what preceded it, Wildheart emphasized sensual slow jams and was acknowledged with a Grammy nomination in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category. Another round of collaborations, including a duet with Dua Lipa, and singles highlighted by "2 Lovin U" (produced by DJ Premier) and the platinum-certified "Sky Walker" (featuring Travis Scott), preceded the December 2017 release of the urgent War & Leisure. Another R&B/hip-hop chart topper, it also entered the Billboard 200 at number nine. Miguel continued his extracurricular activity through 2018 with Kygo's "Remind Me to Forget" among his most commercially successful featured appearances. His next solo release was the Spanish-language EP Te Lo Dije, which peaked at number 11 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart in 2019. Also that year, Alicia Keys' Miguel-assisted "Show Me Love" began its ascent to gold status.
A mix of smaller-scale solo output and featured appearances followed during the first few years of the 2020s. Early in the decade, Miguel was featured on tracks such as Jhené Aiko's platinum "Happiness Over Everything (H.O.E.)." The Art Dealer Chic series of EPs resumed in 2021 with a fourth volume containing the grinding "Funeral." After he was featured on Diplo's "Don't Forget My Love," Miguel saw "Sure Thing" become more popular than ever in 2023 -- thanks to TikTok -- and a re-release of the single consequently reached number 14 on the Hot 100, thereby surpassing "Adorn" as his highest-charting pop single. The singer responded that April with the smoldering slow jam "Give It to Me." ~ Andy Kellman & David Jeffries