Its the 20th anniversary of Kelis’ Kaleidoscope debut album, and the singer recently sat down with The Guardian, where she spoke on her fallout with Pharrell, why she has moved out of LA, and her relationship with her ex-husband Nas or lack there of.
To find Kelis these days,you will definitely not find her in LA anymore, but you can find her on her California farm.
Kelis via The Guardian:
“I hate LA. I was only ever there for work. Because it’s not like New York or London, there’s nowhere to go after 10 at night, so suddenly you’re getting up early in the mornings and you’re juicing and you’re hiking and figuring out how much wheatgrass can you actually intake. I hate it. So I thought, if I’m going to be in California, I should be where I can appreciate how beautiful it really is, not stuck in LA and pretending it’s a city that’s fun.”
On the 20th anniversary of her album Kaleidoscope:
“Yeah, I’m struggling a little bit, if I’m honest. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. I feel everyone is expecting me to have these deep thoughts about [the anniversary], and I just don’t.”
Her returning to Kaleidoscope has brought her back many bitter and sweet memories. At the time Kelis was at the top of her game with her then close friend Pharrell and Chad Hugo, AKA the Neptunes. She met them through a mutual friend at a performing arts school when she was only 19.
“I thought it was a beautiful and pure, creative safe space. But it ended up not being that at all.”
We all hear the stories of the music industry ripping off young artists again and again, and in most cases its because they are too young to understand the contracts. And once its signed it is too late. However, what was different in Kelis’s case, is that it was her friends who ripped her off.
“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do.”
She claims was “blatantly lied to and tricked” by “the Neptunes and their management and their lawyers and all that stuff”. She says she made nothing from sales of her first two albums, which were produced by the Neptunes. At first she didn’t notice for a few years, because she was making money from touring.
“And just the fact that I wasn’t poor felt like enough. Their argument is: ‘Well, you signed it.’ I’m like: ‘Yeah, I signed what I was told, and I was too young and too stupid to double-check it.’”
No response from Pharrell and Hugo as if yet.
When asked if there she feels any animosity towards the music duo:
“No, I’m just stating the facts.”
“To be honest with you, I think if it were not for my faith, I feel like that would probably be the case. It’s very clear to me, especially being on a farm, that whatever you put in the ground, that is what’s going to come back to you.”
But she has seen Pharrell after their fall out. A few years back, he was performing at an industry event and she was in the audience.
“And he did that thing to me that he’s notorious for, which is making a nod from the stage [to someone in the audience], so it seems like there’s mutual respect, when in reality. I’m like, OK, I’m not going to yell back: ‘You stole all my publishing!’ So you end up nodding back and everyone thinks everything’s great. Like, whatever.”
And when asked if she would work with him again:
“Ummm, at that point there’s having faith and there is also just stupidity.”
She also touched on her first husband, Nas, who she says physically abused her. She first spoke about it in an interview back in 2018, nine years after she left him while being seven months pregnant with their child.
A claim he strongly denies.
“Well, I’m a very private person, and whether it’s the stuff with the Neptunes and being assaulted from a business perspective, to then being assaulted in the home, I fought so hard to have my own voice, even with the umbrella of these men looming over what I was trying to do. I’m not broken. But I don’t feel like protecting the sanctity of the black man any more.”
“The red flags were there. I was really young and didn’t know that love isn’t enough. It was crazy from the start, but I think as girls we’re taught that that’s what love is, like you can’t breathe without them. What kind of shit is that? I want to breathe!”
The two married back in 2005 and, although they were seen as music’s coolest couple, fame, she says, made the abuse worse, and it continued to get worse, until two things finally decided to split. Seeing the photos of Rihanna after Chris Brown assaulted her in 2009 really open her eyes to leave.
“It just woke me up.”
The second was getting pregnant.
“I thought, you know, I can endure a lot, but I’m not prepared to bring someone else into this. So I’m done.”
Since going public, Nas has repeatedly denied that he abused her and insists that she stops him from seeing their son.
“Any rational person would look at this situation and say [to Nas]: ‘Well, if you want to see [your child], you have to actually show up!’ My kid is a really happy child, because I don’t tell him when [his father] says he’s going to come and doesn’t show up.”
Who else can relate?!
What’s your 2 cents?!