Question: You don’t follow new music?
Kelis: Well I don’t follow current events at all. I’m completely lost.
Question: Why’s that?
Kelis: I hate to sound like the Grinch who stole music but I feel hypocritical in a lot of senses. I had this moment a few years ago when I was super stressed out and I asked myself why I was doing this. I think it was because I was going through a dry spell. I wasn’t writing and I was feeling inadequate in general, as artists do sometimes. At the time, one of the things that kept resonating in my mind was why would I even attempt to be as good as the things that made me love music? It seems pretentious and arrogant in a way to believe that I could match these great people who made such magnificent moments in life. So I guess I don’t listen to a lot of new stuff because a lot of it’s not interesting to me, it’s watered down version of things that were better. I listen to music, I just don’t listen to a lot of new stuff. Usually what ends up happening is someone who knows me very well will be like “You should listen to this, you’ll love it”. I have a very small group of people who know me and who know how anti-everything I am. I think a lot of times people hear me say that and they think, somehow I think I’m better than everybody, and I don’t.
Question: So you haven’t observed the new generation of young female artists who have, arguably, come up in your wake in terms of being outspoken and forthright in a way that you were ten years ago?
Kelis: People always ask me, “What would you tell a young artist?” First of all I would say don’t ask me. Because if there’s another option, take the other option! It’s a lot less painful. I think people emulate artists too much. For me, when I started off it was the nineties and I didn’t have an idea of how people would perceive it, I wasn’t trying to make such grand statement. I was just talking, and it just so happened that I had a platform. I think people put too much emphasis on how this affects the world, and women in particular. It should be listened to and enjoyed. I think people put so much emphasis on artists, people start to emulate these people. They’re just people. Who gives a crap? I’m not more worthy than anyone else. The reality is too that there’s more trash than there is good. I’m not enthralled at the idea that women have decided to speak. I’m like, “Congratulations”.
Question: But it’s still seen as such a negative thing for a young woman to be angry or to have rage—especially a black woman. So surely it is important.
Kelis: Maybe it’s because I see it from this side now, but I don’t know that someone deserves praise or judgement for doing that. If you’re an artist, you don’t do this for people’s opinion of you. You do this because you can’t do anything else. When people ask, “I wanna do this, what should I do?” I think it’s a stupid question that doesn’t have an answer. I didn’t ask a question! I couldn’t do anything else, I couldn’t afford college. Are you kidding me? You don’t want to be an artist. You have a perspective and it’s different, so people acknowledge it. Shut up don’t talk about it. People don’t have to like me. It helps if people like my music but I don’t make it for people to like it or dislike it or figure out who women are, or who I am as a black woman. I wouldn’t make the same records that I made when I was 17 cause I’m not 17. I made what I made when I made it because that’s how I felt. It wasn’t because I felt like I need to be heard or I’m “black and I’m angry”. Even with the social media thing, people’s opinions are formed by this and it’s dangerous. People don’t think, they just see something and they’re like, “I can categorize all these things.” Who are you? What do you do for yourself? When you’re in a room by yourself in the dark, who are you? Who does God see you as? Do you know who your God is? What’s your source? It can’t be any other artist. Art should be your own personal expression and it just so happens that we make too much money from it.
Who’s your God?
"I’m not as confident as people think I am. I just don’t apologize for who I am. This is all I can be. Growing up, I had three sisters. My mom was really direct and really strong—she’s a New Yorker! She would say, “You guys are great. Be that.” So I grew up being comfortable in my own skin, with the understanding that the world didn’t give me my joy, and so it couldn’t take it away. Then again, that comes from knowing my source, but this is who I am: great. I don’t feel like I’m better than anybody else, or like I have to compete with anybody else. So I do feel confident, in the sense that I have one person to report to, and that’s my lord and savior. Everybody else, if you don’t like it, I don’t do it for you anyway! [laughs] If you don’t like me, awesome, it doesn’t mean it’s gonna make or break me, I don’t care."
- Kelis (via trillwavefeminism)
Just some of my favorite tracks by Kelis.
- Sugar Honey Iced Tea
- Game Show
- Popular Thug
- My Life - Latrelle feat. Kelis
- I Want Your Love
- Get Along With You
- Caught Out There
- No Turning Back
- Roller Rink
- Truth Or Dare - N.E.R.D.
- Mr. U.F.O. Man
- Ghetto Children
- Shooting Stars
- Wouldn’t You Agree
Dj Mike Rizzy!! U pick the right jams!! As a true kelis fan! U got it!