Kelis

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Kelis describes her sixth album as “a kind of unspoken lovefest”, albeit one involving two unlikely partners. On the one hand, there is Kelis Rogers, who first came to prominence singing the hook of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s 1999 hit Got Your Money; whose debut album Kaleidoscope helped usher in the wave of sharp, thrillingly futuristic r’n’b that dominated the charts in the early Noughties: as exemplified by her global hit, 2003’s Milkshake; whose last album was a pop-dance extravaganza featuring production from will.i.am and David Guetta. On the other, there was Dave Sitek, guitarist in acclaimed Brooklyn experimentalists TV On The Radio; producer by appointment to a certain kind of smart, arty indie band: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Foals, Liars. “It’s like we’re such different people,” says Kelis, “but I met him and he’s really just this brilliant, strange creature. I musically fell in love with him and I think he’s just a divine person. It’s ridiculous how much we speak the same language, musically and food-wise.”

Ah, food. As you may have gathered from the title, and indeed the tracks Jerk Ribs, Friday Fish Fry, Biscuits N’ Gravy and Cobbler, food has quite a large role to play in Kelis’ sixth album, and indeed her life. She is a qualified chef, who took a cordon bleu course in 2008, after a traumatic battle with her then-record label came to an end: “I’d been trying to get off the label for four years. It was all-out war. I was in combat mode. I’d fought them for years, then one Friday I got this call telling me they were finally releasing me from my contract. I was sitting in my kitchen, watching TV, an ad came on for culinary school and I was like, “yeah, I’m going” I started class Monday morning. A year and a half course, seven hours a day, five days a week and Saturdays and Sundays you’ve got to get on the line, ready to be hired in a restaurant.”

Despite her reservations about having to wear “a stupid hat and chef’s getup”, she loved it. She’s about to launch her own range of sauces in the US called Feast – “at school I realized sauce is my thing, I personally think everything is better either smothered or poured” – and there’s talk of a TV cookery series, for which she’s just filmed a pilot episode: “a lifestyle show, it’s my life, and there really is no separation for me between the food and the music.”