Kelis Becomes Her ‘Own Woman’ on ‘Flesh Tone’
Kelis' personal life -- mainly, her divorce from prolific rapper Nas -- have been a hot topic for the past few months, but the Harlem native has made a few notable transitions in her professional life as well. In December, two years after her split from Jive Records, Kelis inked a new deal with will.i.am Music Group/Interscope Records to release her fifth studio album 'Flesh Tone.' The electro-dance album is a departure from the sound of her 2006 rap-tinged 'Kelis Was Here,' with a lineup of producers that includes Diplo, Benny Benassi and David Guetta.
"People shouldn't be able to expect what you're going to do next. That takes a little fun out of it and it defeats the purpose of me trying to be creative," Kelis told The BoomBox. "It's really just sort of where I'm at right now, it's what I was hearing and what I was drawn to. It just so happened that these are the producers that were able to come up with the sound that I was looking for; it wasn't like I was out to find these big name producers."
On her previous albums the eclectic singer has worked closely with producers like The Neptunes, but this time around she's rolling with Black Eyed Peas front man and producer, will.i.am. "It's nice to have people support you. Not because it's scary but just because it's obviously easier once you have positive energy and people who are willing to stand behind you, figuratively and literally," she said about her relationship with Will. "He's been really supportive."
Will.i.am can claim production credits on several tracks from the 2006 album 'Kelis Was Here,' but the super producer has been actively involved in the promotion of 'Flesh Tone.' After getting his approval on the new album, Kelis says her record deal with Interscope was in the bag. "This was really a seamless and easy transition for me because I recorded my album previously to being signed, [so] it took all of the business and politics out of it," Kelis explained. "It just made it about the music and made it really easy to function in that space."
Kelis says that she took a new approach to recording 'Flesh Tone,' which made the process feel more organic. "I recorded in my house, at my own leisure, doing it exactly the way I wanted to do things, so it really just kind of flowed out. I had a great time and people should listen and dance and enjoy."
In a recent interview, will.i.am dubbed Kelis a "best kept secret" in music, explaining that she has the potential to garner global fame on the level of the Black Eye Peas. The 'Milkshake' singer doesn't seem ready to accept the comparison just yet, but instead maintains that she is fortunate to have Will's support. "[Those are] really big shoes to fill, but the most important thing is the fact that I'm signed with him and he believes in what I'm doing, who I want to be and where I want to be in the future," she said. "He's an artist first, so he understands how important it is to really stay true to yourself and be able to have the freedom to express yourself the way you need to. At the end of the day, what more can you ask for, when it comes to a label, a friend and an artist?"
Apparently, there's not much left to desire. Kelis says she's simply "having a blast" touring and promoting the new album, especially since her son Knight gets to tag-a-long for the ride. "It's awesome because he comes with me," she said. "I'm never going to leave my kid, so he's with me and it's good."
The last time we heard from Kelis in 2006, she declared that her single 'Bossy' was an ode to taking control of her life, career and destiny. "It's the only way to be," she says of the sentiment. "If not, someone else is going to do it for you, and I don't see how they could really get it right. You have to take control, you have to know what you want and who you are. I can't expect someone else to guide me the right way and make life decisions for me. At the end of the day I'm the only person who's held responsible for me. I don't know if 'Bossy' is the word that I would use to describe it today, but whatever you call it ... I'm my own woman."
'Flesh Tone' is available in stores and online.