Oftentimes when a musician puts out a successful album it doesn’t mean he or she made a lot of money from it, and sometimes they make nothing at all.
Kelis is a good example of that, because the singer said she didn’t earn a cent off her debut LP “Kaleidoscope” after it was released in 1999.
The New York native — who at age 40 now lives on a farm with her second husband, Mike Mora, in California’s wine country — worked with Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo on the album, who are collectively known as the Neptunes.
Kelis said at first she thought working with the successful production duo would be a “beautiful and pure, creative safe space,” but she said “it ended up not being that at all.”
“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” Kelis told The Guardian. “[I was] blatantly lied to and tricked [by] the Neptunes and their management and their lawyers and all that stuff.”
Kelis’ “Kaleidoscope” isn’t the only album that didn’t earn her any money. She also didn’t make anything off her sophomore LP “Wanderland,” also produced by The Neptunes.
Thankfully for the singer, the money she received from touring sustained her on some level, but the cash also led her to an area of complacency when it came to rectifying things.
“Just the fact that I wasn’t poor felt like enough,” she said. “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 then said she began working with other producers on her third album “Tasty,” and it really offended the Neptunes.
She also spoke about seeing Williams at an industry event a few years ago, and although they haven’t spoken in some time, he nodded to her from the stage. But it was something she didn’t care for.
“I’m like, ‘OK, I’m not going to yell back. You stole all my publishing. So you end up nodding back and everyone thinks everything’s great.’ Like, whatever,” said Kelis, who also implied that she’d never work with Williams again.
“Ummm, at that point there’s having faith and there is also just stupidity,” she said about the possibility.
Towards the end of the interview, Kelis talked about her first husband Nas, who’s the father of her 10-year-old son Knight. Kelis also has a 4-year-old son by Mora.
In 2018, the singer said Nas was physically abusive to her during their five-year marriage, and she admitted she hit him as well.
The pair tied the knot in 2005, and Kelis explained why she never talked about the alleged abuse until that 2018 interview.
“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 explained. “I’m not broken. But I don’t feel like protecting the sanctity of the black man anymore.”
“The red flags were there,” she also said about her marriage to Nas. “I was really young and didn’t know that love isn’t enough. It was crazy from the start, but I think as girls we’re taught that that’s what love is, like you can’t breathe without them. What kind of sh– is that? I want to breathe.”