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Kelis Says Pharrell Williams ‘Stole Her Publishing’ - ‘I Don’t Feel Like Protecting The Sanctity Of The Black Man Any More’

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It’s 2020 and Kelis is no longer protecting black men. She has revealed producer Pharrell Williams stole her publishing from her first two albums. When she approached him about it, he basically blamed her for signing the contract. She also gives an update on her co-parenting relationship with her ex-husband Nas. Get it all inside…

Caught Out There!

For the most part, black women have defended and protected black men as it has been preached to us since we were young. Racial solidarity is definitely a “thing” and it’s taught early.

Black women and girls are pressured to keep their mouths shut to protect black men who violate us and to also step up to the plate to defend black men who have been wronged, i.e. Gabrielle Union supported Terry Crews when he made sexual assault allegations only for him to act obtuse when she spoke out about the "toxic" and "racially insensitive" work environment behind-the-scenes at “AGT.” His defense was he never experienced any racism or sexism on the show. However, he didn’t have to experience it to simply have her back like she did for him when he was battling against critics of his sexual assault claims.

Well, it seems black women are catching on and are speaking out about the alleged abuse and violations at the hands of black men.

Singer Kelis is at a place in her life where she no longer feels the need to “protect” black men at her own expense. And she’s sharing her story, unfiltered, regardless of how men who have wronged her feel.

These days, the trained chef is taking care of her farm that’s two and a half hours outside of LA, deep in wine country, with her photographer husband Mike Mora. They live on the farm with their four-year-old son Shepherd and Kelis’ 10-year-old son Knight, whom she shares with rapper Nas. Sounds kinda dreamy, actually.

It’s the 20th anniversary of her debut album Kaleidoscope, so she’s gearing up for a mini tour to celebrate.

Reflecting on her debut album brought back some bitter memories. The 40-year-old singer-turned-chef shared how her friendship with the NeptunesPharrell Williams & Chad Hugo – crumbled over money.

“I thought it was a beautiful and pure, creative safe space,” she said in an interview with The Guardian. “But it ended up not being that at all.”

Kelis’ story about being an aspiring artist signing a shady contract is something we’ve all heard about the music industry over the years. However, this story hit different for her because it was “friends” who ripped her off.

“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” she explained.

She said she was “blatantly lied to and tricked,” pointing specifically to “the Neptunes and their management and their lawyers and all that stuff.”

Her first two albums – Kaleidoscope (Dec. ’99) & Wanderland (Oct. ‘01) – were produced by the Neptunes. She alleged she didn’t make a dime for her album sales because she was making money from touring “and just the fact that I wasn’t poor felt like enough,” but she eventually smartened up and realized she was NOT receiving her coins.

“Their argument is: ‘Well, you signed it.’ I’m like: ‘Yeah, I signed what I was told, and I was too young and too stupid to double-check it.’”

Def heard this before. It’s a common theme in the music industry about young, black entertainers signing contracts without having their own legal council to look it over. By the way, The Guardian said they reached out to Pharrell & Chad, but they did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

When it was time to work on their third album Tasty, she decided to work with different producers and she said she could tell the Neptunes “were really offended.” After that, they were no longer friends. However, Kelis said she’s not angry about the situation, she’s simply “stating the facts.”

“To be honest with you, I think if it were not for my faith, I feel like that would probably be the case. It’s very clear to me, especially being on a farm, that whatever you put in the ground, that is what’s going to come back to you,” she said.

A few years ago, Pharrell was performing at an industry event where she was seated in the audience and she shared their interaction.

“And he did that thing to me that he’s notorious for, which is making a nod from the stage [to someone in the audience], so it seems like there’s mutual respect, when in reality …” She throws her head back and laughs. “I’m like, OK, I’m not going to yell back: ‘You stole all my publishing!’ So you end up nodding back and everyone thinks everything’s great. Like, whatever.”

When asked if she would ever work with P again, she said, “Ummm, at that point there’s having faith and there is also just stupidity.”

Can’t blame her there.

This revelation comes after Kelis revealed in 2018 her ex-husband/rapper Nas (whom she married in 2005) allegedly physically abused her throughout their relationship - something he vehemently denies.

She left Nas while seven months pregnant and she credited the Rihanna/Chris Brown 2009 assault as the driving force that helped her make that decision – “It woke me up.” After she found out she was pregnant, she knew she couldn’t bring another person into the madness, so she dipped for good.

After all that she has gone through, she’s no longer staying silent.

“Well, I’m a very private person, and whether it’s the stuff with the Neptunes and being assaulted from a business perspective, to then being assaulted in the home, I fought so hard to have my own voice, even with the umbrella of these men looming over what I was trying to do. I’m not broken. But I don’t feel like protecting the sanctity of the black man any more,” she shared.

After Kelis made the allegations, Nas denied ever assaulting her and accused her of not letting him see his son.

“Any rational person would look at this situation and say [to Nas]: ‘Well, if you want to see [your child], you have to actually show up!’ My kid is a really happy child, because I don’t tell him when [his father] says he’s going to come and doesn’t show up.”

So, it seems she and Nas still have a strained co-parenting relationship.

Kelis also opened up about racism in the industry:

"The issue of race has been such a big part of my entire career. It was never something that I struggled with personally. But it was other people’s confusions. Macy Gray and I were the first [black women] to be considered alternative. But people were like: ‘But you’re black and alternative? What is that?’ Which already is a stupid-ass question, but it was put in our faces all the time,” she explained.

No surprise there. 


On the bright side, Kelis will leave her farm to kick off “The Kaleidoscope Tour” on March 3rd in Europe. She'll wrap up in London on March 17th.

Photos: Everett Collection/ Ron Adar/Shutterstock.com

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