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interview by Meshack Blaq
photos by Monkey Wrench

Have you heard the latest tune by Ol' Dirty Bastard lately? What about the "Illegal Business" track from Noreaga a.k.a. Melvin Flynt Da Hustla? Notice anything different? That's right, the voice you hear in the background is that of Kelis (pronounced Kay- Lease). Upon first sight, I thought she was a model. After speaking with her I realized she was a cross between around-the-way & Uptown girl. In fact she was all that and then some. The two things that came to mind initially were does she sing or Rap? And does she look as PRETTY IN PINK?

KRON: What's crackin'? My Man Royce over there tells me I should holla at you `cause you got an album droppin' in a minute. Whaddup?

KELIS: I'm chillin'. And I do.

KRON: Well I ain't seen no ads or snipes or nothin'! What the deal? You're one helluva looker!!

KELIS: (She laughs) I don't need to be made anymore nervous! You know what? They were tryin' to get shit right, really. My single should hopefully, Lord willing, be out by the time you go to press. But I'm on that "I Got Cha Money" single with Ol' D.B.

KRON: Yea, I noticed they're burnin' that out here right now, Huh?

KELIS: Yea, we just did the video too. You'll have to check for that. It's different!

KRON: Are you from out here?

KELIS: Yes I am. Born and raised Harlem girl.

KRON: So then, how did you come to this point where you're recording music, and you got these great producers doing tracks for you?

KELIS: Neptunes did my album. We met about a year and half ago. We just vibed and really clicked. I was workin' with some other people before that, but nothing really seemed right. I got up with them and ever since then shit has been really Dope. We've just been workin'-workin', poppin' music out.

KRON: Do you sing? Do you Rap?

KELIS: I'm a Singer. It's kinda like Pop/R&B. Everyone has a different name for it. But it's like Pop/R&B, a little Alternative, a lil' Funk.

KRON: Today your hair is pink. What color was it last month?

KELIS: (She laughs) It's been pink for a good six months. But before that it was blonde.

KRON: Is this a gimmick?


KRON: Can you really sing?

KELIS: Hell Yea!! (She starts to laugh as if she knows the next question)

KRON: Or are you just another fine Sistah that's gonna be sellin' that sex appeal? I mean, it doesn't hurt, but I have to ask.

KELIS: Well I hope I sell that fuckin' sex appeal, Yea!! But that's not what it's about.

I'm a Singer, and I'm definitely a better Singer than I am a looker.

KRON: I feel you. So now because of the pink hair I have to ask you if you're down with Joi? Freaky Joi?

KELIS: Freaky Joi?

KRON: You know, Big Gipp from Goodie M.O.B.'s lady? The Soul/Funk Mistress of the `90's?

KELIS: OK, lemme guess. Is she pink too?

KRON: No, but she's just like, "out there". And you give me that "out there" vibe with the pink hair.

KELIS: No. I'm just chillin'. I'm really chillin'. I do what I like. I really do. And the whole pink shit has caught on, but I've had the pink hair for a long time. All of a sudden now it's this "cool thing" to do. But I've been rockin' pink hair for a bit. (She laughs again)

KRON: So tell me now; I just got this CD called Ultimate Divas. It's got some of the top female Singers of this Century. Who were some of your inspirations growing up as a youngin'?

KELIS: Growin' up as a youngin', I was a Jazz girl all the way. I grew up listening to Jazz because that's what my Daddy does. He's a Jazz musician. So I know of Betty Carter and Nancy Wilson. The oldies like Ella and Billie.

KRON: Are you gonna be bringing some of that flavor back or do you have the new & improved for 2000 type of steeze?

KELIS: Well my whole shit is based on that because that's what I know. So it's got that flair, it's got that feel `cause that's where my Soul is at. But it's some new shit for you to Bop to and something you can feel.

KRON: Whoa, that was heavy! I wasn't expecting that one. "New shit for us to Bop to!" So what's the Single called coming out?

KELIS: "Caught Out There"

KRON: And what's the flavor?

KELIS: A lotta people call it Alternative. I don't think it's really Alternative. I just think it's some new shit. It's got some R&B, but everything has got a Hip Hop flavor to it because this is where I'm from. I'm from New York; I'm from Harlem. The Neptunes are Hip Hop producers. That's what they do. So I hate to use Billie Holiday for lack of a better term, because everybody uses her as a term of reference for Jazz. But just so everyone knows who I'm talking about; it's like Billie Holiday meets some off-the-wall Martian shit. It's got some digital kinda futuristic sounds to it, but I can't help what I know as far as singing.

KRON: Well, why did you let the Neptunes produce the whole thing?

KELIS: Because the whole time I was trying to get the project off the ground, you meet a lot of people that spark your interest. But you very rarely meet someone who every time you're thinking something, they're thinking the same thing. Or vice-versa. We really understood each other off the bat. To make music like that is a beatiful thing that's hard to find. Making music is like making a baby; you can't just make a baby with anybody. And if you do, sometimes it's a mistake.