With over a month to go until Kelis hits the road for the Kaleidoscope tour (which celebrates the 20th anniversary of her debut album of the same name), the groundbreaking singer had an interview with The Guardian where she reflected on her experiences during that album’s creation. When asked to share her thoughts on the project’s milestone, the mother-of-two revealed a contract she signed with The Neptunes (Pharrell, Chad Hugo), which proved to be a controversial outcome since she said she was left with no revenue from her album sales although she was getting paid from touring.
“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” she said. The “Brave” singer continued to state that she was “blatantly lied to and tricked” noting that it wasn’t only the Neptunes in contention, but also their management and legal team. “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,’” Kelis stated.
Reaching a point where she needed to share her truth, Kelis said it was an uphill battle to have her voice amplified. “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,” she said, referring to a recent revelation that Nas reportedly physically assaulted her during their relationship. “I’m not broken. But I don’t feel like protecting the sanctity of the black man any more.”
Kaleidoscope (released in 1999), was produced by The Neptunes and hosts singles like “Get Along With You,” “Good Stuff,” and “Caught Out There.” The album spent six weeks on the Billboard 200.
Kelis’ music industry experience also continued at other labels. In a 2017 interview with The Fader, Kelis discussed her legal battle to be released from Jive Records after her former label home, Arista Records folded. Kelis said the label had no desire to ensure that she fit into its roster.
“Long story short, I tried to get off, the label wouldn’t let me off and I had to put out [Kelis Was Here], which was probably one of the worst times in my career,” she said. “I ended up doing it and that was like four years. All that time went by and I was not being released and I was just pissed. Then finally one day I got a call from my lawyer, he’s like, ‘Yo, you’ve been released.’ I was like, ‘Oh… okay.’ I had been fighting for so long that I forgot that I had no plans.”
Despite her experiences within the music business, living life on a farm with her husband and children and focusing on her career pursuits have strengthened her faith. “To be honest with you, I think if it were not for my faith, I feel like that would probably be the case,” she said. “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.”