Kelis released Kelis Was Here
Many artists strive to be innovative. Kelis does it naturally. Whether it was giving early production from the Neptunes extra bite with her sassy vocals, screaming on a scorned lover on her breakthrough “Caught Out There” single, teasing potential suitors on the sly “Milkshake” or causing heads to turn with her forward-thinking fashion sense, Kelis has always been in her own league, a singer and entertainer that others look to for inspiration.
That reality will certainly continue with her fourth album, the masterful Kelis Was Here, a passionate window into her moods, tastes and emotions, all supplied by some of the most innovative, addictive sonics music has to offer. Lead single “Bossy” perfectly illustrates Kelis’ musical mission. With a guest rap from rap pioneer Too $hort in tow, Kelis lays claim to her trendsetting ways with her patented innovation, attitude and sauciness over a chintzy beat from Shondrae “Bangladesh” Crawford (Ludacris).
Title: Kelis Was Here
Release date: 08/22/06
Label: La Face/Jive
Buy at: Amazon
“I think the first single should always be a declaration of how you feel,” Kelis says. “I do want to leave my mark behind. I wanted to let people know that I was the first one to do it. Not that I haven’t gotten my credit, but people very quickly forget. I wanted to be like, ‘This is it. I started it. This is mine.’ Whether it is in style, music, fashion or whatever it is, I wanted to feel like I was part of the music, part of the change.”
Kelis could spark a retro movement on the glam/punkish “I Don’t Think So” and the equally old school-inspired party jam “Weekend,” which is highlighted by synthesized singing. She then describes how she’ll please a man sexually on “What’s That Right There” and takes the details a step further on the ultra sensuous “Blindfold Me” featuring Nas.
For Kelis, talking about sex in her music is natural. “Sex is part of life,” she says. “I think a lot of people misunderstand what a strong female means. I don’t think that all of the sudden it means you’re a nun or that you’re some crazy, unsexual being. I think part of being a woman is embodying all those things, from sexuality to maternal instincts to strength to humbleness to meekness. It’s everything.”
Part of life, sadly, encompasses dealing with life’s darker moments. The soulful, pensive “Lil Star” features Kelis singing about the time when she has self-doubt, giving fans a look at her vulnerable side. “I can’t be confident and bold and obnoxious all the time,” Kelis says. “What kind of person would I be? I’m a human being and I have other sides, too. I’m not always secure and I’m not always confident. I have moments where I get self-conscious.”
On the somber “Circus,” Kelis bluntly examines the less than glamorous aspects of the musical industry. It’s a grave moment for a person who treasures her artistry. “I wanted to talk about how the music industry is crap and that I hate the music business,” she says. “They try to take your joy out of it. At the end of the day, no one knows that this is what it is when you get into it. You figure you’re going to go out, make great music, that people are going to love it and buy it, and you can just live your life expressing yourself. You learn that that’s not the case. You get more criticism than love, you have to make more compromises than you ever thought you’d have to make and it becomes so much more of a business everyday than it is an art.”
But, as Kelis also says, life is full of beauty. That sentiment drives the optimistic “Living Proof.” It’s a touching dedication to the joy that love brings into a person’s life. “Life is not perfect and I think a lot of us dwell on the fact that it’s hard, that we’re lonely,” Kelis says. “But at the end of the day, life is beautiful and there are great aspects. Even in the midst of this torrent world we live in, there’s someone for me to love and to love me back. I think that’s the best part about it, that in the midst of all the muck, there’s still greatness.”
Kelis explores sonic greatness on the orchestral love song “Like You,” which she says reminds her of the vibe of the Bruce Willis sci-fi movie The Fifth Element and on album closer “Have A Nice Day,” which has a number of tempo and musical changes -- and clocks in at more than five minutes. Having a song longer than the norm is just one of the ways Kelis wanted to express her artistry. “I think everything is stuck into being two-minute songs, three-minute songs,” she says. “Everything is supposed to have guidelines. I just wanted to do great music. I don’t want to conform. I just want to enjoy my life.”
Enjoying her life has been Kelis’ M.O. for as long as she can remember. Fortunately, the Harlem native was encouraged by her parents to express herself and chase her dreams. Her late father was a jazz musician and her mother is a fashion designer. Having such creative, artistically inclined people as her parents and having access to other artists and musicians during her formative years helped Kelis develop her steely attitude and independent mindstate. “Part of our growing up was to just be what you wanted to be and take it there,” she says.
Kelis did just that through her high-impact music. Originally backed by multi-platinum, genre-busting hit-makers The Neptunes, Kelis sang on hits from rappers Noreaga and Ol’ Dirty Bastard before making a name for herself with her breakthrough single “Caught Out There,” which famously featured her screaming “I hate you so much right now” to her man. Kaleidoscope, her vibrant 1999 debut album, introduced Kelis as the trendsetting, genre-blending artistic force whose subsequent hit “Milkshake” and her appearances with Busta Rhymes (“What It Is”), Foxy Brown (“Candy”) and Nas (“Hey, Nas”), among many others, solidified her status as a funky singer with no artistic boundaries.
“I think I brought an element of fun to it all, a tongue-in-cheek kitchiness,” Kelis says. “I don’t take myself too seriously. It’s enough to where it makes it exciting, new and kind of experimental. I think I’ve been one that’s taken chances, that’s stood out on a ledge and that it encouraged other artists to do the same, I hope.”
Kelis, who plans to release her own cookbook within a year, plans to follow her own advice. Kelis Was Here was a statement album for her. “This album is me leaving my mark,” she says. “I’d like to say that it’s the last for me of this kind of record. Everyone else is trying to do the same kind of music, sound the same, look the same, so I wanted to leave my mark, which is what I did with ‘Bossy.’ I wanted to do it, do it well and get it out of my system so that I could move on to other stuff. The next things I do, I’m going to go and really take it even further. I want to help music change.”
Truth be told, she always has.
Kelis Was Here Tracklisting
3. What's That Right There
4. Till The Wheels Fall Off
5. Living Proof
6. Bundfold Me
11. Like You
12. Aww S***!
13. Lil Star
14. I Don't Think So
16. Appreciate Me
17. Have A Nice Day
18. Untitle Track (Bonus Track)
"Kelis Was Here" by Kelis - release date: 08/22/06..