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In 1999, hip-hop musician Kelis released her debut album Kaleidoscope, featuring militant, feminist-themed lyrics over hip-hop beats.
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Due to controversies with Virgin Records, Kelis' second album, Wanderland, was released only in Europe, and while it achieved decent sales overseas, the album went almost entirely unnoticed back in the United States. Kelis then left Virgin for Arista, and in 2003 she finally broke through to mainstream audiences with her third album, Tasty. The album's smash-hit lead single, "Milkshake", featured the provocative-seeming and impossibly catchy lyrics, "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
" which became etched into the American pop culture lexicon.
Finally a household name after the success of "Milkshake", in 2006 the artist released a fourth album, Kelis Was Here, featuring another assertive and popular lead single, "Bossy." Her fifth album, Flesh Tone, was released on Interscope Records in 2010 and features the single "Scream."
After her brief romance with producer Pharrell Williams in 1999, in 2005 Kelis married an even bigger name in the world of hip-hop, New York rap legend Nas (whose real name is Nasir Jones). Kelis gave birth to the couple's son, Knight Jones, in 2009, but the happy day came several months after the pair had separated. Kelis and Nas completed their divorce in 2010 under fairly acrimonious circumstances, with a judge ordering Nas to pay Kelis hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in alimony and child support. The pair began sniping at each other in the press, and Nas ripped his ex-wife in some rhymes on his 2010 release (with Damian Marley), Distant Relatives.
Despite this recent turmoil in her personal life, Kelis remains committed to advancing her music career and expanding her talents into new fields. A passionate chef, she is currently writing a cookbook and also plans to debut her own fashion line in the near future. Asked how she managed to attain such success in the famously cutthroat music industry, Kelis credits her work ethic and awareness. "You have to work harder and you have to be aware of what you're doing," she said. "You can't be blind to what's really going on."
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