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From the very moment Kelis was introduced to the world, she was bold and unique and eclectic and most importantly she stood out amongst everyone else. Her first single “Caught Out There” was a bold and LOUD declaration that she had arrived, and the albums that followed showed that she was an artist who would continue to go to the left when everybody else goes right, and an artist that would continually keep switching her career and style up to keep us surprised and intrigued. Here are short reviews of all 6 of her albums. Enjoy!

kelis album II

Kaleidoscope

kaleidKelis’ debut and it’s accompanying ecelectic mix of sounds definitely delivered what was promised with that first single “Caught Out There”. The album is bold, and loud and we get a peak into the personality of an artist that is all over the place as far as inspiration and delivery. “Kaleidoscope” was a breath of fresh air in the somewhat stale Urban landscape of music at the end of the 90’s. It’s gritty and energetic and alive and just OUT THERE. The album is also very diverse, giving us the hyper “Caught out There” and the trippy “Mars”, that’s mixed with the funky “Good Stuff” and the breezy “In the Morning”. Being honest though, this album was more of an introduction to the Neptunes for me, because the production was so amaze-balls and refreshing at the time. This was the album that truly started my love affair with the music of Pharrell and Chad, but Kelis did a good enough job putting personality and showing some range to her very sexy voice on the album.

Grade: B –  Best:  Get Along With You, In the Morning, I Want Your Love

Wanderland

wanderAmerica! You missed out. Unless of course you were able to score an imported version of this sophomore album.  This Europe-only release is one of Kelis’ best as she really starts to make herself stand out over the incredible Neptunes productions, which are decidely more energetic and upbeat and raw than on the previous album.  This time, things are a little more funky with tracks like “Daddy”, “Scared Money”, “Junkie” and “Digital Love” matching the ultra-popular hits the Neptunes had been delivering to other artists at the time. Ofcourse, Kelis makes them her own with very bold vocal delivery and this time truly letting her personality shine. There’s also a few nice Rock records on here that really fill the album up nicely and give us a Kelis that’s a little more present and up front.

Grade: B +  Best: Young Fresh N’ New, Daddy, Shooting Stars

Tasty

TastyThis album is a great one for Kelis, it is definitely a solid album that has mostly Killer and very little filler. It’s very classic yet contemporary album that feels nostalgic on certain tracks (the Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam vibes of “Protect My Heart” and the Beastie Boys vibe of “Keep it Down”), but mostly infectious dance songs and soulful slow jams. This is lso an important album for Kelis, as it showed her slowly stepping out of the Neptunes shadow. Their presence is felt on the majority of the tracks, but she employs talent like Rockwilder, Dallas Austin, Andre 3000 and Raphael Saaddiq and surprisingly those songs are some of the albums best. A really solid album, not necessarily as adventurous as her previous two, but a good album overall.

Grade: B +  Best: Millionaire, Flashback, Milkshake

Kelis Was Here

was hereIronically, Kelis’ best album (imo of course) is the one that includes ZERO input from the Neptunes. Ironic because I’m such a huge fan of the Neptunes, and wondered how she would sound without them. Fortunately, Kelis found a great team who provided her some amazing music. And at this point, Kelis had truly found her voice and knew what made her unique. The music here is as diverse as before, but a lot more polished and it all just feels a lot more organic in terms of how everything from vocals and features fit together. All of the production shines, but especially the tracks from Will.I.Am and Bangladesh. Will provides a diverse sampling of stuff from the club type records (“What’s That Right There” and “Weekend”) to the more alternative stuff (“Till The Wheels Fall Off”), while Bangladesh gets her in a more Urban zone (“Bossy”, “Aww Shit”) but surprisingly provides her a really great Pop cut (“Handful”). The songs on this album are all great and the flow of the album is a lot stronger than before.

Grade: A –  Best: Till The Wheels Fall Off, Bossy, Aww Shit

Flesh Tone

fleshThe idea of this album was odd. The idea of Kelis doing a full on Dance/Club album was slightly strange because we had only heard her flirt with this genre before.  Leading up to this she was featured on a few Club cuts from producers like Benny Benassi and Timo Maas, but for her to do an entire album with that sound was different. Good thing she managed to kill it, with some great introspective lyricism and the confidence to totally switch her style up and attack it with her signature swag. If you are a Dance fan you will definitely appreciate the raw and authentic dance beats she manages to deliver on. This isn’t the Dance/Pop-lite sound that was dominating radio at the time, this is truly gritty and intense 4 to the Floor beats that the Dance purists could appreciate. Then you have the concepts that are really personal, from her talking about her son (“Acapella”, “Brave”) to just being free and enjoying life (“Emancipate”, “Scream”). It’s a short album so the synths and bass don’t get too one note before it’s over, it’s just a perfect little piece of Dance and another example of how much of a risk taker Kelis is.

Grade: B –  Best: Scream, Brave, 4th of July (Fireworks)

FOOD

foodThis album seemed to come out of nowhere earlier this year. And the sound is so unassuming and humble, it feels a little underwhelming on first listen. It’s a really low-key, mostly mid-tempo, blues and soul inspired album that is just so mellow that it’s a little difficult to describe. The more the album plays though, the more you appreciate it. The production, which is mostly provided by a live band, is really relaxing but very subtly layered. Her delivery is the same, not going too overboard but also not drowning in the lushness of the music. Clearly I haven’t gotten into this album as much, but it’s definitely satisfying. I think with every new Kelis album, time for adjusting is necessary. At times this doesn’t feel like a Kelis album at all, but Kelis is so out of the box you never really get that feeling and you have to respect that.

Grade: B –  Best: Floyd, Hooch, Biscuits and Gravy

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