Browsing a magazine in a café whilst awaiting my order, I discover that Kelis’ 6th studio album has recently dropped without so much as a peep from the music industry. This kind of stunt should be left to the likes of ‘Yonce I think to myself, except this was no deliberate secret. The former Diva has ended up on the scrap-heap of has beens and quite frankly her music is a painful reflection of this.
In 1998, armed with a fierce mane of hair, a vibrant image and fiery lyrics, Kelis made her mark on the industry. She was a breath of fresh air. Her message was “I’m different, so what?”
Caught Out There was the first release from Kaliedoscope, the album produced by Neptunes. The video was a satirical take on a bitter girlfriend avenging her lying boyfriend. The single peaked at number 9 on the Hot RnB/Hip Hop Songs chart and became a significant video hit on MTV and BET. The album debuted at 144 on the Billboard 200 and sold 11,000 in its first week.After winning the BRIT Award for Best International Breakthrough Act and the NME Award for Best R&B/Soul Act in 2001, Kelis later separated herself from her RnB origins claiming that she never considered herself an RnB singer.
This album is very different from anything that Kelis has ever attempted. Reinventing one’s brand is natural and necessary for an ever-changing industry however, this Kelis is lacking something. Musically, she is unrecognizable and whilst we understand that she was always a quirky, rebellious artist who danced to the rhythm of her own beat, I can’t help wondering if she is asking a little too much of the fans that originally helped to put her on the map.
Much like myself in my teenage years, Kelis comforted the rebel in me. Her style and expression encouraged me to be a little bolder, a little edgier and reminded me to have the courage to be myself a little more, even if that self did have a couple of screws loose!
After being off the scene for so long, I knew that hearing Kelis’ husky voice would resurrect memories of that difficult teenager within, and sure enough, Rumble brought back a strong sense of nostalgia, so much so, it almost made me forget that I was listening to this renowned RnB diva over a lazy rock rhythm.
With a cacophony of trumpets, breathy melodies and enough tambourines to upstage a Negro Spiritual church, Hooch is a sassy modern prototype of old school funk. Using a climatic intro, it reminds me of the Temptations 1972 hit, Papa Was A Rolling Stone.
Now before I continue, lets just address the elephant in the room, it may seem as though Kelis has taken the idiom, “cooking up an album” a little too literally, however being a Cordeu Bleu trained chef who debuted her cooking show ‘Saucy and Sweet’ in February this year, it comes as no surprise that many of her songs have names with tasty titles, such as Jerk Ribs, Friday Fish Fry, Biscuits and Gravy, Breakfast (which features a PA from her son Knight). Despite its name Cobbler was the most notable. It is a sexy, edgy sound which is my personal favourite and is the only song on ‘Food’ that made this album worth listening to, well at least she has appeased the likes of The Guardian and NME editors who are waxing lyrical about how good the album is, so don’t take my word for it, have a listen below and tell me if you think I am being too harsh: