KELIS / “Young, Fresh N’ New”

Tell us about the album: 'Young Fresh and New'... Basically it's a call out... I don't know how to say it in short really... it's like about me and everybody else I know in our generation and just the fact that we're young and it seems like we have nothing to fight for. And when we should essentially be fighting for ourselves, after all we are the entrepreneurial generation, so many people are just dabbling in routine just because that's what it is. The song is about that we're young now, you know, so don't wait till you're 35 40 to say oh I should have done this because we are this right now. So you're saying people are a bit apathetic? Er, I wouldn't say apathetic. I guess that could be the major message if there is one but the first part is more like - I am young, I feel this, I... you know, people older than me are always questioning how I live my life the way I do, and this is why I do - because I can and I don't feel like I should have to apologise for being young and feeling young. But people always want you to... (puts on mature voice) straighten up and fly right. Well screw you - I am flying right. I'm young, I'm not reckless it's just this is how I live. So that's the first part and then the bigger picture is that it's not just me, there's a lot of people that need to let loose a little. —Big Bang's Jasper Stone
I’m the father of five children -- three daughters, two sons -- the oldest born in 1970, the youngest in 1977. Kelis interests me for a number of reasons both obvious and not. Although she is obviously very talented, I’m not a fan of Kelis' music, nor do I like any of her videos. So what keeps me from liking her and, if I don’t like her music, why am I spending time writing about her? From one of her many fan sites, a bio reads in part: “Born Kelis Rogers (her name, pronounced 'kuh-LEESE,' is a combination of her parents' first names), the singer-songwriter was raised in a middle-class household in Harlem. Her Puerto Rican and Chinese mother, Eveliss, is a fashion designer, and her black father, Kenneth, who died two days before she inked her former deal with Virgin in 1998, was a jazz musician and a Pentecostal minister. As a child, Kelis sang in her church choir as well as the Girl's Choir of Harlem, and played violin, piano and saxophone while attending a prestigious private school on Manhattan's stodgy Upper East Side. Kelis_7.jpg “When she was 13, Kelis shaved her head and, after it grew back, dyed it a succession of colors (blue-black, blood red, green, orange, platinum blond and pink). By the time she had turned 16 and enrolled as a drama major at New York’s renowned La Guardia School for the Arts (immortalized in both the movie and television series Fame), her parents, worn out from trying to control her, kicked her out of the house.” What interests me is the future, not where I will fit into it, but how our children and their children will cope with the future and, hopefully, create a better future. There’s a lot of anger and discontent among the youth. For all the success, there’s a ton of bitter angst. And in Kelis’ case, brought up middle class, in Harlem, the youngest of three daughters born to a former jazz musician turned Pentacostal minister and a bi-racial (Chinese and Puerto Rican) fashion designer of children’s clothing, the etiology of her demons/desires is most certainly not the result of material deprivation. There is an intricate intertwining of parental expectations and filial resentments, sort of noir rebels without good cause(s). For the last seven years I have taught and interacted with high school students. Some of my students have since then majored in Communications in college, partially a result of taking classes with me. I’m proud of them, but I’m also concerned about many of them. Kelis’ father is deceased. He died two days before she signed her first record deal. He never saw her success. It’s only a guess, but I believe he died heartbroken. Looking at the "Milkshake" video, I tried to imagine how I would feel if Kelis was my daughter. I wonder how Kelis' tattoos will look when she’s fifty, assuming of course that she lives to be fifty. What kind of parent will she be? Ironically, it was Albert Ayler who said “music is the healing force of the universe.” Ironically, because Ayler died young, his body discovered in a New York City river, generally believed to be the result of suicide. Music could not heal what was ailing him. I wonder: does the music Kelis makes bring solace and satisfaction to her. I’ve not heard one Kelis song I want to hear again. But I will keep listening. Keep hoping. Hoping that she will find whatever it is she is seeking. I don’t feel sorry for Kelis. And frankly, I don’t believe a lot of the image she puts forth. The mood swings are so wide, some of the imagery so obviously calculated to shock, to attract attention. kelis.jpg Sixteen in the streets of NYC. Suriving on one’s own. Is the soft porn an act? Or is it a reflection of what she’s seen, what she’s…. On the one hand, there’s her famous “Caught Out There” song (AKA the “I hate you so much right now! Aaargh!” song) on the first album, addressed to a cheating man. On the other hand, there’s the sexual braggadocio of “Milkshake” and the wilding-out sexual fantasizing of “In Public.” I’m a heterosexual male, I respond when titillated. But I’m also a father, and I am deeply concerned. Kelis, call home. Home, open your doors to Kelis. We’ve got to find a way to reach out to each other. Being judgmental won’t help. Right now, I don’t know what will help, but for sure, the entertainment industry doesn’t help. The industry encourages anything that sells, and when you stop selling, they stop encouraging you. One day I hope to hear a classic record from Kelis, a record that tells us at the deepest level where Kelis is coming from, where she’s at, and, sincerely, where she hopes to go. Kelis, keep singing. I’ll keep listening. —Kalamu ya Salaam "Young, Fresh And New" is taken from Kelis' second album, which was inexplicably never released in the U.S. Click the link to purchase Wanderland from        When war is over / Is the peace meaningful?     Obviously, I can't tell you what you're writing about, but the way I see it, you aren't writing about Kelis. You're writing about what the post-Civil Rights generation has or has not done with the opportunities your generation worked so hard to provide. It's an understandable concern. Kelis02.jpg But to address the Kelis thing quickly, I don't take her (or her antics) seriously, primarily because it doesn't appear that she takes herself seriously. I'm reminded of the Halle Berry thing: I keep hearing how Halle wants to be taken seriously as an actress, then everytime I see her on the cover of a magazine, her breasts are hanging out. Should a woman have a right to dress however she wants? Of course. But said woman should also recognize that presenting herself (or allowing herself to be presented) in a conspicuously sexual manner will cause the majority of people to react to her (and her music and her acting and her art of any kind) as a sex object. When Kelis begins to behave publicly as though she considers herself an artist, I'll start paying attention to her as an artist. Until then.... As to the larger issue, the unfortunate truth is you all did fight and did win for us the opportunity to be free to do what we want to do. It appears, though, that what a lot of us want to do is abuse each other or ourselves, and wear fancy jewelry. Like the Bush administration in Iraq, the Civil Rights generation overlooked a crucial element of winning a war: the endgame. I'd argue that the Civil Rights generation actually did win a lot of what they were fighting for -- access to better jobs, education, transportation, political representation, etc. -- but didn't focus enough on what they really needed to win: that is, the minds, souls and spirits of their children. A lot of post-Civil Rights children grew up feeling cut adrift from anything that mattered. Perhaps this is because a lot of the foot soldiers in the war -- not to mention captains and generals -- ended the Seventies (if they made it out alive at all) as bits and pieces of their former selves, as casualties of war. These fighters also happened to be fathers and mothers. As the brother once asked, who's going to stay at home when the freedom fighters are fighting? And, if and when the freedom fighters win, when the war is finally over, will the peace be a meaningful peace? If not, what was the fight for? —Mtume ya Salaam

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 3rd, 2005 at 12:02 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

17 Responses to “KELIS / “Young, Fresh N’ New””

Anonymous Says:
July 4th, 2005 at 2:00 pm

soulsides is correct, your layout is nice. BUT your audio is clipping all over the place. You gotta normalize that before you compress to MP3 or you destroy the peak values. Try dropping the RMS peak value to about 80% of the original. that’s usually pretty safe.

     Kalamu says:

i assume you mean the kelis track specifically and not all the tracks in general. (if you do mean all the tracks, please hit me back with an email and let me know. i don’t hear any clipping on the others, but i’ve got old ears and am always subject to correction.)

your tip about eq-ing is right on and we will keep that in mind.

thanks much for your comment. it is extremely helpful to us to know about anything that does not measure up.

and by the way, what did you think of the track and our discussion of said track?


ekere Says:
July 8th, 2005 at 8:27 am

This is the type of vibing that I do with my friends about music and it is wonderful to see some of our thoughts articulated on this site. This site is special because it is putting our music in a context, the context of who we are and who we were and who we could be. I talk to my students– most of them are teenagers– about music often, and I have listened to my Dad talk about the Civil Rights Movement for a good thrity years, he is in his late seventies. I have also seen how our music and videos dictate what peope all over the world think of us. So I listen to music with one ear in the past and another in the future and I look at videos with the same eyes. This means that I have taken to turning off most videos and songs before the choruses can even get into full swing. (yes, Kelis too) Since I started teaching teens more though, I have made it my business to sit through things because I do want/need to know what they are taking in so we can talk about it. Working with students pulls me into the present, but I share my old/young eyes with them and they share theirs with me and it makes for interesting dialogues… dialougues like the one above which is somehow still about Kelis.
Aight, peace!

shieema Says:
December 3rd, 2005 at 1:59 am

kelis you are a wonderful person inside out hi my name is shieema, i think the CD wanderland is hot every song on it is wonderful i look up to you as a role model thank you so much love you..

Jesse Says:
December 4th, 2005 at 2:58 pm

Kelis is The Best!!!

newyorkma Says:
December 5th, 2005 at 1:59 pm

I think Kelis is doing her thing more power to her !!! PEOPLE ALWAYS TRYNING TO KNOCK YA KEEP DOING WHAT YA DOING ALWAYS YOUNG HUSTER!! 1

Matthew Fallabel Says:
February 20th, 2006 at 9:35 pm

Kelis, you are innovative and always original. You are amazing and your CD’s just keep getting better and better. I love you and your sound, keep up the amazing work!

laeticia manzeke Says:
March 5th, 2006 at 9:22 am

he kelis like you to be my friend i like you so much kelis you amazing girl ilove you and your sond keep up the amazing work i ‘m from london

Artur Says:
April 16th, 2006 at 6:29 am

Wielki RESPECT jesteś świetna

Jesse Says:
May 28th, 2006 at 11:00 pm

Sup my name is Jesse & iv’e been a faithful fan of Kelis since I heard her on O.D.B.’s Got your Money,& up to this day I still am & will continiue to be a faithful fan.Girl ur da best,so beautiful,& wit a voice better than angels.Keep on wit da good work cause’ this is a fan that will always be wit u girl.Waitin’ for “Kelis Was Here” to drop.Love U Girl.

Anthony aka "80" Says:
June 30th, 2006 at 11:30 pm

I’m from the West Coast and I’ll say Kelis is the sexiest girl. Keep doin’ ya thang baby!!!!

July 13th, 2006 at 11:40 pm


Crystal Hanton Says:
March 19th, 2007 at 5:59 pm

I LOVE Kelis hair and she is beautiful!!! She reminds me of Aaliyah, an angel.

Ebony Says:
April 3rd, 2007 at 9:58 am

Why are you hating? Is your life that wack that you can’t focus on you? Is it that you actually feel bad for you? Do you not like what you see in the mirror? Is your life pathetic? Kelis has a life and she’s not doing post on how you should live yours, maybe you should try to be like her and do something constructive.

K. Says:
September 6th, 2008 at 3:36 am

My opinion on her is also a bit split. Actually, I even know a good song of hers, Get along with you:
One could even show the video to a child.

On the other hand, in view of everything else I have seen and heard of her so far, I also wonder why she is doing what she is doing. She does not have to, she has the talent and looks to be a positive star. But so far she is simply embarrassing.

She reminds me of Madonna, I never understood why people like that are so obsessed with sexuality and obscene behavior. What’s so bad about being a decent girl / woman? I don’t think an artist should produce and display anything that would be inappropriate for a child to see.

To all those people here applauding her, turn to Jill Scott instead before it’s too late 😀

Maybe she will grow up, I read she is married now. If only her husband were not a rapper…

Amanda Says:
December 28th, 2008 at 10:54 pm

I for one, love Kelis.
There’s no need to obsess with what she represents or how young people will perceive her. At the end of the day, she’s representing herself and it’s up to the youth to respond whatever way they feel fit, There’s nothing wrong with her ass shaking/ “provocative” behaviour (whatever you want to call it). People need to realise that perception is everything.
Take it for what it is. Soem people will like it, some people won’t.
All her videos enhance her songs – her music is dope. Keep it up Kelis, do your thing & don’t give a f**k about what people say. Like she said in the interview “no regrets”. Live your life & do what feels right for you. I think everyone would benefit from taking her lead. Peace.

Kanyin Says:
February 1st, 2009 at 2:03 pm

What you are asking of Kelis is to conform to the molds of a “decent” woman. Everywoman feels differently, and I believe that at some point, most women want to feel liberated, but when they cant, they choose to make others conform to what they currently are. Kelis has a lot of songs that reflect what she feels. Her first album Kaleidoscope, was “dope”, she sang about love, being left heartbroken, and other things. Cos she has a different approach to things do not make her discontent or unhappy and whatever else has been used to label her. I for instance am usually mellow but there are those 30 days during the year when I’m at an all time high or low when I cut my hair off or dye my hair different colors. And I dont think Kelis is doing this to be a sex symbol or to boost her earnings. If she wanted to, she would sing more songs that conform to society expectations like Beyonce – I do love Beyonce, but you have to agree her songs are solely geared for high earnings not necessarily how she feels. Just my two cents. Kaleidoscope is still Kelis’ best album. Seriously the album has many songs about relationships and the problems that come with, and a lot of young girls who have been dumped can feel where she is coming from… By the way Amanda you rock!

pjkane Says:
March 13th, 2009 at 6:49 pm

I think out of alot of singers nowadays, Kelis is a rarity. Her sound is quite unique compared to alot of the ‘pop’ of the moment.

Kelis ,i believe,stands for liberation! She is a free thinker and if you properly listen to the lyricsfrom her albums she comments on the state of society and herself. I dont think she should be used as an example for your dissatisfaction with the state of the world in reference to music! What about Lil’ Star and the lyrics “Just keep tryin'”-it is such a lovely positive song and idea. What about “Millionaire”…i feel it’s about just simply enjoying the richness of having friends…the video is lovely.

Milkshake is just a catchy kinky tune and doesn’t take itself seriously. Life as far as we know is impermanent. Joy is the best feeling and so many people need it. If Kelis makes you move, giggle, wiggle………do like Noel Cowardand ‘misbehave!’ Life shouldn’t be spent being so serious.

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