The best part about being slept on is having the opportunity to wake motherf*ckers up, and Kelis is just the person to help us do it. The 40-year-old mother-of-two recently sat down with i-D and reminded us that you should never give up on the dream just because other people weren't given your vision.
Kaleidoscope broke barriers when it was originally released in 1999 and our girl officially became the first girl to scream on a track, and twenty years later, Kelis reflected on the success of her debut album and what it meant to Black girls everywhere:
"The funny thing is, 'Kaleidoscope' doesn't fit in anywhere. It literally cemented me into musical history forever and I know that. It changed my life and the life of music for that era, because it made it so that black girls could look different and sound different and be different. It became about the artistry because it had to. Everybody understood that it had to live somewhere… I'd rather be critically acclaimed because it's so off, rather than having everyone like you right now and tomorrow they don't know who you are. I don't need that. This is perfect for my personality. It just works out this way because this is who I am."
The singer explained that at the time, although she had a sound that she vehemently believed in, records execs thought differently; but this didn't stop her from creating, even if it took the world a little longer to catch on. We can all learn a thing or two about owning your shit from the "Milkshake" singer, who says that she stands tall in her work, whether she sells two albums or two million.
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"If I have an idea that's good, and I know when it's good, no one will agree with me. So every time, I'll do it and everyone's like, 'She's the weird one, there she goes again, why are you doing that when this is totally not like the record you did before?' I always say, 'I promise, everyone's going to want to be doing this.' It's literally two years, every single time."
The singer also emphasized the importance of making collaborators pay what they owe, friends or not. Kelis explained that despite any success that she had on her projects, she didn't see a dime of the profits. After releasing her music, she later learned that The Neptunes and her record label would retain all of her royalties:
"Fast-forward 10 years and I didn't think for one second, did I get paid for that? Were they fair to me? Did they give me what they said they were going to give me? Someone might argue that I was wrong, since I didn't ask the right questions. It's not a new story, it happens all the time. Unfortunately, it happens to women a lot, it happens to black artists a lot."
Thanks to the unlimited access to information that exists in the digital age, it makes it much harder for record companies to swindle young artists, but for Kelis, her financial mistake has to live on a lesson learned.
"We were Star Trak. I was Star Trak for life. I was like, this is what it is, this is fun. It was supposed to mean something. And then to find out later it meant nothing and was just the same old rhetoric and rigmarole that we're always hearing about, that it was essentially a modern-day Motown? Yeah, you're freaking amazing and you're talented and interesting, and you have nothing, because you didn't know to ask for anything. Whose fault is that?"
To read the full interview, click here!
Featured image by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images