After a major lull in the first half of the year, the charts are exploding again with the sound of crackling, explosive dance-pop (back down, Justin Bieber!). The brightest and perhaps most unexpected of these sizzling, Gaga-esque releases is by my girl Kelis, 30.
The Grammy-nominated NYC native is showing the world there's a lot more to her than "Milkshake" on her introspective fifth LP, Flesh Tone, in stores Tuesday. I caught up with the diva for the latest issue of Us Weekly to talk her exciting new change in sound, son Knight's first birthday and if she's smoothing things out with her ex-hubby, Nas, after a bitter divorce battle. Want the extended version? Dance on over here.
And as a special bonus this holiday weekend, check out the singer's latest video, "4th of July," here!
UsMagazine.com: This is your fifth album, but your first in four years. Why the wait?
Kelis: Honestly up until this point I never felt the need to put a record out every six months. I like to live my life in-between and I like to write my records for them to be something. Its hard for me to stay on the scene all the time -- it's exhausting!
Us: Lyrically there is a lot of joy and celebration on this album. Where did you draw your inspiration from?
Kelis: Pregnancy gives a woman a strong sense of validation. [When you're pregnant], you wake up everyday and internally everything is working perfectly and you look at the world and everything sort of fits together. It's hard not to realize there is a creator and he created all of us.
Us: The song "Brave" tackles your divorce from Nas. Was that song therapeutic for you to write?
Kelis: After [the split], everyone was like 'You are going through a rough time, you should write something personal.' I wear my feelings on my sleeve. The hardest decisions are the best ones and for me that was really the case. I am definitely better today than I was a year ago. And I'll be better next year.
Us: So you get along with Nas now?
Kelis: Yeah everything's fine. We are divorced, but there is no point to fighting -- there is nothing to fight about. I am super happy; my life is awesome. We are friends, we get along now and it's all good.
Us: Your son, Knight, is celebrating his first birthday on July 22. What are some of his recent milestones?
Kelis: He is hilarious! He claps, he snaps and he waves. He is a shrunken little person and has a lot of personality.
Us: Do you think he'll follow in your footsteps and be a musician too?
Kelis: I don’t know. Whatever he does, I will be supportive and be a good mother. He does really have his own taste. He definitely jams!
Us: Speaking of jamming, do you ever get tired of your megasmash "Milkshake"?
Kelis: I'm proud of it! Without tooting my own horn, that record changed music. After it came out, so many things came out in that genre or had that sound. I claim it thoroughly. A ton of female performers came out with records and that was their foundation. It's a great thing. Now I have new music and I'm known for that, but it comes with the territory.