As Kelis prepares to embark on her Kaleidoscope tour, marking the 20th anniversary of her debut album Kaleidoscope, she is speaking out about making the disc and being “tricked” out of earnings.
In a new interview with British paper The Guardian, Kelis claims she was ripped off by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, also known as The Neptunes, who produced Kaleidoscope and her followup album, Wanderland.
She said the pair told her she would get an even split of the earnings, but that turned out to be false.
“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” she said.
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While there have been countless stories about shady deals in the music industry, Kelis said the difference is that Williams and Hugo were close friends.
“I thought it was a beautiful and pure, creative safe space. But it ended up not being that at all,” Kelis said. She went on to claim she was “blatantly lied to and tricked.”
Kelis began working with The Neptunes when she was 19 years old. At first, she said she didn’t notice the lack of income from her music because she was earning money from touring. When she realized something was amiss, she said Williams and Hugo were indifferent.
“Their argument is, ‘Well, you signed it.’ Yeah I signed what I was told and I was too young and too stupid to double check it,” she said.
For her third album, Tasty, she decided to work with other producers. “I could tell they were really offended,” she said about The Neptunes.
Kelis insisted she isn’t angry about the situation. “No, I’m just stating the facts,” she explained.
Asked if she would ever work with The Neptunes again, she said, “There’s having faith and there is also just stupidity.”
That sounds like a no. The Kaleidoscope tour kicks off in March in Europe.
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During the conversation with The Guardian, Kelis also discussed her allegedly abusive relationship with ex-husband Nas, who has repeatedly denied ever hitting her.
The “Milkshake” singer said she decided to leave him when she saw the photographs of Rihanna after she was assaulted by Chris Brown.
“It just woke me up,” Kelis said, adding that her pregnancy made her realize it was time to go. “I can endure a lot, but I’m not prepared to bring someone else into this. So I’m done.”