Kelis Reinvents Herself on ‘Fleshtones’
Kelis has gone through a handful of incarnations throughout her decade-long career. Her R&B-heavy 1999 debut ‘Kaleidoscope’ was followed-up by 2001’s ‘Wanderland‘ and the bass-driven ‘Tasty,’ an album that catapulted the Harlem-native onto mainstream radar after the single ‘Milkshake‘ embedded itself into social consciousness. After dropping the sassier ‘Kelis Was Here‘ in 2006 Kelis’ label turned the tables and dropped her. To say the least, the one-woman show, known for her outlandish hair and make-up, has had her fair share of setbacks, with the most recent obstacle being the very public and nasty divorce from ex-husband Nas. But problems aside, Kelis is about to reinvent herself again. For her fourth studio album, ‘Fleshtones’ she’s scrapping the fiery R&B and cranking up the beat electronically for her first dance floor-ready outing.
“I have a really nice blend of different stuff,” Kelis tells the BoomBox of ‘Fleshtones,’ “like a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I listen to a lot of different stuff. I have a friend that never wants to listen to my iPod because he hates all the music on it.” Drawing on influences ranging from gospel to Empire of the Sun, the album is a production feature away from being a Daft Punk fan’s wet dream. “I recorded it alone in the house. It’s really just me,” she says of hashing out ‘Fleshtones.’ “There’s no A&R, there’s no opinion, there’s no input at all. This is really my album, it’s my record. There’s no one else that can hold a stake in it.”
While shaping up to be Kelis’ most fervent outing yet, ‘Fleshtones,’ due in the spring of 2010, will be her first release with the will.i.am Music Group. Producers on the project include David Guetta, Boyz Noize, Diplo & Switch, Burnz, Jean Baptiste, Replay as well as the label’s namesake will.i.am. The ‘Fleshtones’ Guetta-produced single ‘Acapella’ is already getting some burn on the web. In spite of the fact that the song has already struck a chord on a mass scale — more than 55,000 plays on YouTube alone — Kelis feels her music is yet to be understood correctly. Already, fans have misinterpreted her single ‘Acapella’ to be about her newborn son and Nas kin, Knight.
“It’s funny, because I never actually said [it was about] my son. Everyone just assumed that it is because they can,” she comes clean about the song. “It’s really just more about God and life and the life that, at the time, was in me.” Kelis plans on sharing her love for Knight on a song that’s dedicated exclusively to him on the album and hopes of being “an example” for him and “giving him the best that [she] can.” It’s hard to imagine that the same woman that walked across a man’s bare back in high heels in the ‘Bossy‘ video is now the boss of a young boy’s life. “I’m a bossy mom!” she admits, laughing. “I mean, honestly, I love being a mother and it’s changed who I am as a person. It changes my goals. I just love being a mom.”
Kelis is forging ahead with hopes that ‘Fleshtones’ will do what music is supposed to do: make you dance. Her promotional duties kick into full gear at the top of 2010 with plans to shoot a music video for ‘Acapella.’ “I guess right after the New Year is when we really start moving forward with that and doing a video and all of that,” she explains. “I want people to dance and to go out and have a good time, have music that makes you feel good. Not so much talking about what I have, but really just showing you what I am. And that’s what it’s all about.”