Keri Hilson Wants Men to Pay Attention to ‘No Boys Allowed’
Keri Hilson catches the eye of a male front desk clerk as she walks through the lobby of the Ink48 Hotel in New York City. The hotel employee may as well stop daydreaming right there, for Hilson's sophomore album is called 'No Boys Allowed.' Despite the reference, the Decatur, Ga. native promises she's not trying to alienate her male fans. She just wants a few in the pack to recognize that women deserve more than to be toyed with.
"We don't want boys, we want men," Keri tells The BoomBox of her album's name. "I want [men] to understand that you should listen and understand how women really think and feel about you. Even if you are younger, it's just basically no bulls--- allowed."
The 27-year-old singer, noted for her ability to transform her voice from sex kitten ('Turnin' Me On') to soulful ('Breaking Point'), goes by Miss Keri Baby but she'd rather act as a lyrical Superwoman for ladies, young and old.
"I really want to empower girls," she reveals. "I do music that makes them feel strong enough to get out of a bad situation at times, makes them feel better about their outer appearance [and] at the same time I want to teach young girls that it's OK to be pretty or feel cute, but have a little soul. Let there be a little intellect behind that. Get good grades, finish school, aspire to do great things as opposed to just shopping and wearing makeup and putting on heels and letting that be all there is to you."
Singles like 'Pretty Girl Rock,' produced by Ne-Yo and Chuck Harmony, showcase the blond bombshell's attempt at uniting women over their shared beauty rather than the jealousy that drives them apart. Keri's self-love anthem is a prime example of addressing topics that many females deal with, much like a Bei Maejor and Boi-1da-jointly produced track set to appear on her forthcoming opus.
"There's this song on my album called 'Buyou,'" Keri states. "I wanted to talk about how it's not cool to mooch off your woman. It's not manly, it's very boy-like. I don't want to take care of my man. I do buy my own things. You are doing nothing for me, you are taking from me and that's not a good situation. Buy you a phone, buy you a car. It's like saying, 'Come correct or don't come at all.'"
While Keri has collaborated with distinguished singers and rappers in the past -- Keyshia Cole, Kanye West, Akon, Lil Wayne -- 'No Boys Allowed' will feature fewer cameos in order for her to create a "defining sound." Producers such as Timbaland and Polow da Don will undoubtedly have a presence, yet Keri's mum about the select few who will croon or spit a 16 beside her.
"There are a certain couple of characters who I think can help tell my story on 'No Boys Allowed,'" she says while tapping her leopard-decorated fingernails on her leg. "I won't say who they are, but they exist and they are great and I'm fans of them. There will be a couple but they will be there for a reason. You have to handpick who gets your vision."
The commander of her own musical enterprise, Keri acts with great precision when it comes to all aspects of her career, down to how she'll appear on a red carpet. Before the cheerful chanteuse enters a fitting with Armani Exchange to select a dress for an upcoming film premiere, she elaborates on what many people may not realize: despite her work with other songwriters and producers, the material she lays claim to is veracious.
"My songs come from very personal places and it puts me in a very vulnerable state to where, while I'm writing, I'm like, 'Do I really want the world to know this? Is this gonna cause me trouble with this person? Are they gonna know that this song is about them?'" Keri admits. "For me, there was a little stress in creating this album because I dug a little deeper than I did on my first album, ['In a Perfect World...']. I was able to talk about the truth about certain things that I am dealing with."