First Impressions: I Like Kelis' 'Flesh Tone'. There I Said It.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And you know I'm going to tell you why. I secretly wanted to hate this because Kelis went all rouge (or ever you want to look at it) and decided she was tired of catering to the hip-hop crowd (thanks Nas) and wanted to shake up the plain yogurt. But with one listen, hate I cannot, I had to break the glowsticks and dim all the lights sweet darling because I seriously danced the night away (in my room) with Kelis' and her latest offering, the electro-pop savvy, Flesh Tone. Though the album won't be in stores (on US shores) till about July, there is no time like the present to divulge in it's contents and what a fun and sound shifting package it is.

Most R&B and Hip-Hop heads weren't exactly going over the moon for Kelis' change of pace after hearing "Acapella" and knowing that Kelis ditched The Neptunes to have producer of the moment, David Guetta take over. Well, boo hoo. You can't always get what you want, and frankly, I'm glad Kelis decided to switch gears, because her sound was wearing thin as evidenced on Kelis Was Here...just admit it. To put it bluntly, Flesh Tone is a non-stop club rompus as there aren't any "slow jams" or anything remotely reminiscent of a cool down. It's straight up club, and by the time you soaked in the nine tracks, you have felt like you drank your way through some cherry sours, got sweat flung on you by a stranger and sweated out your hair job. With Flesh Tone, Kelis out popped some artists who have been doing it for far longer and with her husky tone laced over the throbbing beats, it actually works as the whole project recalls that 90's dance vibe where singers like Martha Wash  and Jocelyn Brown placed their soul minded vocals on songs from dance outfits like C+C Music Factory and Black Box.

"Intro" into "22nd Century" got me latched into the record right from the start. I felt like I was being torpedoed with synth lasers and a heavy handed dose of 80's New Wave, and while it may be a bit early to say, "22nd Century" sort of sums up this new decade's soundscape at the moment.  

22nd Century

"Acapella" is still just as compelling and odd when it arrived earlier this year, and "4th of July (Fireworks)" has some great club throb moments laced towards the end that melt into the slip n' slide of "Home". The final track, "Song For The Baby" is the best of the lot, as it is enduring, yet has a funky back beat to it due to a grainy brass intro and piano thumps.

Song For The Baby

I have to say that the electronic-pop movement has had people salty over how some artists (especially R&B artists) have shifted their gears. In a sense a lot of the R&B artists, like Kelis, decided to alter their sound because 1) they either were bored with the thrust of hip-hop guest spots and beats that sprinkled the 2000's (thanks to Mariah Carey), 2) wanted to do what is selling at this point as mainstream R&B isn't terribly anything to cheer about these days, or 3) no matter how hard they tried couldn't fit into that mold due to the over abundance of competition (see Kelly Rowland) in the genre. Flesh Tone truly works for someone like Kelis who has been flexible with her sound for about a decade as her 1999 debut, Kaleidoscope and 2001 misbegotten follow-up, Wanderland, bended what was just "typical R&B fare" and made it into something special.

On Flesh Tone, Kelis just took that attitude of wanting to not fit in a mold a monster step further and it's a complete turn-around of what she was. I think it shows a lot of growth on her part, because she easily could have cashed in on something that is like "Milkshake" (thank goodness she didn't). She's been there, done that and though it might not sit well with some people, she was ambitious enough to test a newer pool of ideas. What I think I like best about this, is that even though sonically her sound changed, Kelis' personality or voice isn't lost on this, unlike Christina Aguilera's wandering nature on Bionic, but she's just more electric than usual. Like she said in 1999..."this is the good stuff", and something that people shouldn't take as an insult, more so as change of pace.

Rating: 8.9/10
Release Date: July 6, 2010


  1. I am not going to lie, I love it as well.

    Then again, I love Kelis.

  2. @Reggie: I love Kelis too, but I'm always more skeptical, LOL, esp. when someone is changing their whole sound. But this album is working for me, even better than the last one. It was just a real pleasant surprise overall.


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