Fresh off her fiery performance at the MTV EMAs, Alicia Keys is on the December 2012/January 2013 cover of COMPLEX Magazine, chatting about a range of topics, including upcoming album Girl on Fire, her evolving identity as an artist, motherhood and the significance of Frank Ocean’s decision to go public with his sexuality.
Keys praised Ocean, who came out last summer, “That was super brave and I’m so glad that he wrote it. He is the voice for so many people. We’re all boxed in to these stupid things that we’re taught is the way we’re supposed to be and it’s so ridiculous. There are so many people that need a champion to assure them that no matter who you are, you are a beautiful person. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re talented or intelligent.” Keys is the latest in the hip-hop community to praise Ocean, whose decision has also been applauded by Russell Simmons.
In addition to Ocean, Keys discussed how motherhood has shaped her artistic identity: “Motherhood was a big part of me breaking free. Before I gave birth to Egypt, there was a certain energy of wanting to fix things. I refused to be in any circumstance that would give negative energy to this. That was what pushed me over the edge. It was becoming a woman. I was a girl, and now I’m a woman.”
Musically, Keys, said this new found attitude also translated to “Girl on Fire,” which she believes is a fresh start artistically. “Before making this record, in some ways I felt like a lion locked in a cage,” she said. Indeed, her EMA performance showed a more dynamic stage artist than her usual piano numbers, with added production elements such as dancing and pyrotechnics.
Keys was also featured on this week’s VH1 Storytellers, playing a retrospective set-list that featured earlier hits such as “If I Aint Got You,” “No One” and “You Don’t Know My Name,” in addition to “Girl on Fire” and new single “Brand New Me,” a simple piano ballad with powerful vocals that chronicles her personal evolution. Girl on Fire drops November 27 on RCA.
Alicia on VH1’s Storytellers