Kelis has arrived at her sixth long player and it’s nothing short of an event. Initially stepping onto the popular music stage as the bright-haired fury of the Star Trak clique, Kelis was one of the intriguing post-hip-hop R&B figures.
Throughout her albums, Kelis would recharge, transform and shuffle the rhythm and blues tradition; she eventually eschewed it completely with her fifth album, the electro-storm of Flesh Tone (2010). With Food, featuring co-production from Dave Sitek, Kelis has (somewhat) returned to the R&B many thought she had abandoned.
Much is being made of the album title― its inspiration drawn from Kelis’ culinary forays in the last few years―in reality, it’s Kelis’ second mature recording thus far. Lyrically, her son Knight served as the impetus for Flesh Tone, here Kelis as her own woman is present on Food. Through a variety of lyrical bites, Kelis reveals herself as fragile, sexy, reflective and assertive.
Musically, Kelis hinted at the saucy soul flavors peddled on Food with a clutch of cuts from her fourth LP, Kelis Was Here (2006)―“Till the Wheels Fall Off,” “Living Proof,” “Have a Nice Day.” Since that time, Kelis’ palette has expanded and she cuts between a vintage and contemporary urban pace that is bubbly. The horns are punchy (“Jerk Ribs”), the grooves undulate (“Hooch”) and the synth colors are organic (“Breakfast”).
Directed By: Kelis
Throughout all of these treats, Kelis’ own voice is proud. Her sugar and smoke tones are unapologetic and stronger than they’ve ever been. She shines best on the layered emoto-soul stunner “Floyd,” the block party linchpin “Cobbler” and a divine cover of British singer-songwriter Labi Siffre’s “Bless the Telephone”.
For Kelis, one of the most notable R&B genre-breakers, Food is another sonic triumph that makes our “record skip”―in a good way. Ranking: Classic
[Editor’s Note: Food is available in digital and physical formats; for current information on Kelis, visit her official website.-QH]