Kelis recently sat down with The Guardian to discuss a myriad of topics, including her early work with The Neptunes — the production duo comprised of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo — and their subsequent fallout.
During the interview, the “Milkshake” singer claimed she was “blatantly lied to and tricked” by the duo, their management and lawyers. She added she didn’t make any money off her first two albums — 1999’s Kaleidoscope and 2001’s Wanderland — which The Neptunes produced.
For her third album Tasty, Kelis elected to work with other producers and she said The Neptunes were “really offended.”
“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” 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.’”
Despite her allegations, Kelis insisted she isn’t angry.
“To be honest with you, I think if it were not for my faith, I feel like that would probably be the case,” she explained. “It’s very clear to me, especially being on a farm, that whatever you put in the ground, that is what’s going to come back to you.”
Several years ago, Kelis saw Pharrell perform at an industry event where she was in the crowd.
“He did that thing to me that he’s notorious for, which is making a nod from the stage [to someone in the audience], so it seems like there’s mutual respect, when in reality …,” she said with a laugh. “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.”
Wanderland was finally made available for streaming last June, 18 years after its original release. It’s unclear what the arrangement was between the two parties to make that happen.
Elsewhere in the interview, Kelis touched on the relationship with her ex-husband Nas. The former couple was entangled in a contentious custody battle over their son in 2018, with Kelis accusing Nas of physically abusing her during their marriage.
“Any rational person would look at this situation and say [to Nas]: ‘Well, if you want to see [your child], you have to actually show up!’” she said. “My kid is a really happy child, because I don’t tell him when [his father] says he’s going to come and doesn’t show up.”
In September 2018, Nas denied the allegations in a lengthy Instagram post and insisted she was the abusive one.
“You used to turn my phone off so my professionals couldn’t reach me and take the battery,” he wrote. “You insulted any and everyone whoever was around me. Not a single person in my life loved or could even stand you. Luckily for you our assistants all signed NDA’s or you would have a list of men and women who would happily talk about how verbally abusive and evil you are.”
He added, “I do not beat women. I did not beat up my ex wife. Stop. You got beat up in court. How much money do you want? Do you want me to relinquish my rights to see my son is that what you want? Just tell me. After all the tweets and posts you made thru the years disrespecting me and my family I still have love for you as the mother of my child BUT I am done with this.”