A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kelis puts a quasi-feminist twist on smooth melodies in an arsenal of 17 songs packed with hip-hop beats and some brazen profanities. Because of the frequency and raunchiness of explicit lyrics, this album is only for older hip-hop-listening ears. "Aww S--t!" is a rebuttal for trash-talkers, bonus track "F--k Them Bitches" is full of put-downs, and in most other songs, she freely uses "bitch" as a way to demand respect -- as in "Bossy" where she proclaims "I'm the bitch y'all love to hate." There are two cases of the "N" word and some not-so-subtle sexual moments: "Buckle up your seatbelts/We're about to land in 20 seconds/Oh, oh, Thank You. You. Thank You for continuing to fly with me/throughout this whole ride, ride…," "If it smell icky, tell her pull up her Vickie's/But if it smell alright, I might do the licky-licky," and "First date its going real well/He's makin' me hot/Or is it his cock."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Kelis is easily recognized as an opinionated, conscientious, and gusty diva, ranking with the likes of Beyonce. On her fourth album, KELIS WAS HERE, the inventive singer tests new waters, handled by experimental producers at the helm: will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas, Raphael Saadiq, and The Neptunes. A few standouts: "Blindfold Me" is a kinky club track with a familiar grimy feel; "Living Proof" is chill, smooth, and starry-romantic; "I Don't Think So" is an almost '80s-style jam about saying no to unwelcome flirts; and "Like You" revolves around nicely applied instrumentals -- an opera singer's falsetto staccato beat and stuttering orchestral strings.
Is it any good?
The lyrics on Kelis Was Here are weighed by saucy use of explicitness. In the bonus track "F--k Them Bitches," Kelis whips out mantra chants much like her previous popular hits. "What's Right There" ("He likes it raw, I likes it on top") and "Like You" ("First date it's going real well/He's makin' me hot/Or is it his cock.") are also touchy with overuse of sexual flair. Yet Kelis' graphic songs seem to pack more contagious punch than other tracks. Whilel Kelis has a knack for obvious gritty ditties, she does try different territory with bumping songs bound to pique any heavy hip-hop fan's curiosity. Kelis has presented herself as a dynamic woman with unconventional potential. She hasn't lost any soul, but gained breadth of sound.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about use of obscene lyrics in hip-hop culture, where there's a fine line between authenticity and vulgarity. What marks tasteful placement of curse words in a song? When is it part of a bold statement, just arbitrary, or simply too much? Families can also discuss empowerment in solo female projects. Kelis comes across as a seriously feisty gal, headstrong, and unafraid to voice her authority. What important messages about self-esteem does Kelis hope to convey?