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R&B - Released December 7, 1999 | Virgin Records

When Kelis released her first album in December 1999, soul music was already enjoying a revamp thanks to purist innovators like Erykah Badu and D’Angelo. But Kaleidoscope (which celebrates its twentieth birthday with this Expanded Edition) was on a whole different playing field. During the summer of that same year, the Harlem fly girl first imposed her urban verve on the crazy single Got Your Money by former Wu-Tang member Ol’ Dirty Bastard. With confidence and charisma aplenty -- she’s only 20 years old on this record -- she takes full ownership of this first record entirely directed by the Neptunes duo Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. Kaleidoscope is an R&B record with just the right amounts of pop and hip-hop, like Mary J. Blige or even Brandy. Rather minimalist beats and arrangement-wise, Kelis was a veritable trailblazer. Two decades later and without a single wrinkle, this is a welcome gift that features a handful of remixes (like the excellent extended Caught Out Here by The Neptunes) and gives us the pleasure of revisiting this sensual classic. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Virgin Records

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R&B - Released December 9, 2003 | Arista

Kelis has shown how deviating from the norm can get you pegged falsely -- in her case, as an extraterrestrial being the Neptunes had beamed down from another planet. Maybe the orange-hair-and-body-paint photo on the cover of Kaleidoscope didn't help. And it's safe to say that none of her contemporaries would've ever thought of screaming something like "I hate you so much right now -- uuuugh!" for the chorus of a debut single. Otherwise, Kelis is as down-to-earth as they come; she just doesn't fit the mold of what has been expected in a female R&B artist the past few years (or ever). From a commercial standpoint, this has worked to a disadvantage: Wanderland, her second album, wasn't even released in the U.S. by Virgin, even though it was every bit as fresh and rainbow-dappled as her debut. Just before slipping completely out of view, the Neptunes set her up with Star Trak and dusted off Wanderland's "Popular Thug" -- with Pusha T wiped off in favor of new verses from new fiancé Nas -- for their Clones compilation. That set the table for Tasty, which actually involves less Chad and Pharrell, who produce only five tracks this time around; Dame Grease, Dallas Austin, Raphael Saadiq, Rockwilder, and Andre 3000 pick up most of the production duties. Despite all the new assistance, Tasty is formatted much like Kaleidoscope and Wanderland, constantly swinging back and forth between bouncy pop and laid-back (not throwback) soul. Just the same, the favorable quality level is another recurring characteristic, with only a couple miscues thwarting perfection (you're hereby advised to skip past "In Public"). Lead single "Milkshake," a coquettish playground tease, is the brightest moment of all; built around blaring synth-funk stun riffs, pitter-patter hand percussion, and a singalong taunt of a chorus, it's every bit as suggestive as Vanity 6's "Nasty Girl," the Mary Jane Girls' "In My House," and Monifah's "Touch It," with all three serving as musical -- not just lyrical -- points of reference. On some other planet, at least ten other songs here hit the Top Ten. Regardless of whether or not Kelis is one of us, we clearly don't appreciate her enough. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 1999 | Virgin

This release showcases the development of a great talent. The album's flaws stem from steps taken backward toward what one could call "mainstream" R&B. It's when Kelis and her production team create tracks that best fit her voice and uniqueness that the end results are outstanding. Although comparisons to Neneh Cherry are inevitable, she does carve out a niche for herself, armed with undeniable talent. Kaleidoscope starts out strongly enough with standouts such as "Caught out There," "Get Along with You," and "In the Morning." Sadly enough, the focus seems to lose its footing midway and from there on out, the remaining songs run from average to good. As an artist who could become, with the proper guidance, a prominent figure for years to come, Kelis is one not to dismiss. © Jaime Ikeda /TiVo
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R&B - Released October 17, 2001 | Virgin Catalog (V81)

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Pop - Released August 22, 2006 | LaFace Records

Pop - Released July 6, 2018 | Sony Music UK

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R&B - Released December 9, 2003 | Arista

R&B - Released March 11, 2008 | Jive - Legacy

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Four of Kelis' five singles that hit Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart are included on The Hits, as well as three guest spots (one of which, Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Got Your Money," charted), leaving plenty of room for tracks that weren't exactly hits. Title semantics aside, the disc amounts to a satisfactory, but not optimal, selection of highlights from Kelis' three U.S.-released albums: 1999's Kaleidoscope, 2003's Tasty, and 2006's Kelis Was Here. (2001's Wanderland, not released in the States, is technically represented through "Young, Fresh N' New," but the song also appeared on Tasty.) Plenty of great material is left off the hourlong sequence, from Tasty's "Rolling Through the Hood" and "Glow" to Kelis Was Here's "Blindfold Me" and "Trilogy," and incorporating "Popular Thug" and/or "Little Suzie" from the Wanderland era would have been a good touch. Even so, casual listeners who have wondered whether or not Kelis has had depth beyond a hot single off each album -- "Caught Out There," "Milkshake," "Bossy" -- will get the answer here, and that answer is yes. © Andy Kellman /TiVo

R&B - Released July 14, 2014 | Concert Live Ltd

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Electronic/Dance - Released January 1, 2010 | Will I Am

R&B - Released August 25, 2003 | LaFace Records

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Experimental - Released January 21, 2013 | Kelis

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Electronic/Dance - Released January 1, 2010 | Will I Am

R&B - Released September 20, 1999 | Virgin Catalog (V81)

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Pop - Released February 20, 2007 | Jive

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R&B - Released December 29, 2003 | Arista

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Electronic/Dance - Released January 1, 2010 | Will I Am - A&M

To say Kelis has been through some changes would be an understatement. Since the 2006 release Kelis Was Here, she moved from Jive to will.i.am's Interscope-affiliated vanity imprint, divorced Nas, and gave birth to a boy. Between all that, in addition to a catalog of four R&B albums that deserved greater sales, she could be forgiven for making something like a mindless dance-pop album. While Flesh Tone is a headlong dive into sleek dance-pop -- one that could have been forecast years prior, given her collaborations with Moby, Timo Maas, and Richard X, and let us never forget Diddy’s “Let’s Get Ill” -- it is much more personal than any of her past releases. “Acapella,” one of two tracks made with David Guetta, seems merely redemptive (“It’s just me surviving alone,” “Before you, my whole life was acapella”) until considering that it comes from a woman whose marriage fell through just prior to motherhood. The song that creates the album’s second greatest rush is also about parenthood; “Song for the Baby” similarly strikes as a boilerplate dancefloor love song on the surface, but once its subject sinks in, “I love you more than you’ll ever know” disarms quicker than any line from “Get Along with You” or “Rolling Through the Hood.” The remaining tracks are based in romantic relationships, but not all of them are about moving ahead. The churning “Intro” is bleak, just about hopeless (“Your force so dark, now my life feels uninspired”), yet it is just as powerful as anything else on the album. Nine songs with seven unique sets of production credits whip by in 38 minutes. The setup works because the songs are conjoined and dynamically ordered, like each collaborator knew what was required to complement the other tracks without sacrificing any distinct sonic character. Whether or not Flesh Tone remains a stylistic outlier, the disc will always be a bright standout in Kelis' discography. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 22, 2006 | Arista

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Electronic/Dance - Released January 1, 2010 | Will I Am - A&M

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Kelis in the magazine
  • Kelis: Chapter 1
    Kelis: Chapter 1 Kelis' first album "Kaleidoscope" turns 20! This special Expanded Edition features some brand new remixes and gives you the perfect opportunity to revisit a classic
  • The Qobuz Minute #10
    The Qobuz Minute #10 Presented by Barry Moore, The Qobuz Minute sweeps you away to the 4 corners of the musical universe to bring you an eclectic mix of today's brightest talents. Jazz, Electro, Classical, World music ...