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Kelis - Kelis was here

2006-10-09 17:17
Whether you're a fan or not, the fact that Kelis's voice is unique is undeniable. Some argue it's uniqueness is absolute heaven, others argue its brashness grates. But that's probably where personal taste comes into play.

Many might not realize it, but Kelis Was Here is the Harlem singer-songwriter's fourth studio album, not third. Wanderland was released in 2001 – between Kaleidoscope (1999) and Tasty (2003) – exclusive to Europe, Asia and Latin America after she failed to find mainstream success in the US. While previous albums were littered with explicit lyrics, Kelis Was Here gives audiences a break from her usual foul-mouthed profanities. But not to worry, her new album is still rife with sexual innuendo.

"Blindfold Me" gives listeners a taste of her bedroom antics and features husband and rapper Nas. Even though Kelis is showing her more feminine side, "Bossy" and "Appreciate Me" prove she hasn't really lost her ball-busting persona.

Kelis retains her officious attitude and shows off her overbearing self-confidence in her sexual prowess on tracks like "Aww S***" and "What's That Right There" – which samples "(Not Just) Knee Deep" performed by Funkadelic.

As an artist who prides herself on not being pigeonholed, Kelis delivers her varied musical style, co-writing more than half the tracks on her new album. On "Circus" she lays down her rap skills, ridiculing the music industry's materialistic and stifling nature, and funks it up with the dancehall "Fire" featuring Spragga, while jazzing through the soulful "Till The Wheels Fall Off".

For those looking to catch Kelis in her former foul-mouthed glory, listen out for the bonus track "F*** Them B******".

Surprisingly, Kelis Was Here does not feature the production credits of The Neptunes, who were pivotal on her previous albums. Instead Kelis relies on other heavyweights such as Scott Storch, Bangladesh, Cee-Lo, Max Martin and the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am.

Many attribute her transformation into a softer, more feminine Kelis to her marriage to rapper Nas. Whether this is true, only the artist herself will know. But "Have A Nice Day" offers some sort of explanation. The concluding track's salsa and flamenco rhythms and straight-laced lyrics offer more than a paradox; it's a message to all music critics. Touché, Kelis, touché.

- Megan Kakora
She's straightened her hair, neutralized her outrageous style and slightly censored her lyrics. She might not be irate anymore, but deep down she's still the same brassy Kelis.


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