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11 January, 2004@12:00 am

     It’s amazing that during the Neptunes’ upward swing that Kelis wasn’t caught up in the moment and thrust into the spotlight. After “Caught Out There” climbed frantically up the charts and her debut album Kaleidoscope became arguably the Neptunes best work, the I-Hate-U-So-Much-Right-Now-Girl suddenly disappeared. Labels had no idea what to do with her follow-up Wanderland, thus it tanked overseas, then rumors to her shacking up with P. Diddy and rubbing
noses with Pharrell Williams didn’t help matters either. The public damn near wrote her off, but then she made headlines again, becoming intertwined in a deep relationship with Nas. All of a sudden, almost 4 years later, she drops the bomb on heads everywhere with her new sex-tinged single “Milkshake” produced by them damn Neptunes. Now Kelis is ready to take the
spotlight once again as the former I-Hate-U-So-Much-Right-Now-Girl turned Milkshake
Queen tries to come up with her new release Tasty.

    Okay, so we already know that the theme of Tasty is sex, as listeners have been beaten over the head with the ode to the female anatomy “Milkshake”, which needs no explanation here. It’s the rest of the album that becomes a problem. On the raunchy “In Public”, the
swanky production from Rockwilder provides a decent backdrop for Kelis’ soft porn vocals. It’s when fiancee Nas chimes in that makes this a moment worth forgetting as Nas’ absolutely tasteless and risque verse may cause listeners to toss their cookies as he laments “The pussy or the mouth that is the question/like Shakespeare but my erection is the case here.” YUCK! With the Neptunes behind the boards one would think that Kelis’ flat voice would be lifted by that well known signature production. For those who thought that, you have thought wrong as the ‘Tunes set forth some of the most uninspired production they have ever had the nerve to put out (with the exception of “Milkshake”). If it is indeed a case of them burning out, they have definitely picked the wrong time for it as tracks such as the horrible “Rolling Through The Hood” contain all the faults it could possibly have. From the uninspired vocals to the bland production to the uninteresting title, it just ain’t working. The overly pop sound of “Protect My Heart” and the sleepy toned “Sugar Honey Iced Tea” prove to be more than a setback on the album. Even the assistance from Dallas Austin (“Trick Me” and “Keep it Down”) creates a dreary atmosphere that showcases Kelis as the struggling vocalist she is.

    The few memorable moments from Tasty do not come from the Neptunes, in fact those moments come from outside Star Trak entirely. When Kelis teams up with Andre 3000 of Outkast, the results are jaw dropping. “Millionaire” features Andre’s now recognizable sound as the two vibe over a track that could have been lifted from the mind of Prince. Knowing that the both of them do not possess strong singing voices the production stands out, as they both supply their voices as instruments candidly accompanying the track. Also when Raphael Saadiq  lends his swagger to the mix Kelis can almost do no wrong as evidenced on “Glow” and “Marathon”. On the latter, R. Saddiq’s production embodies Kelis’ voice and climaxes with an adrenaline building instrumental to close out the album. It seems as if the Neptunes have either lost their mojo or have they just lost interest in Kelis’ album. Either way it’s almost as if outsiders are the only way this album is made tolerable.

    Kelis has and always will be an acquired taste. For those looking for a vocalist with some major pipes, look elsewhere. Tasty is definitely lacking the charisma Kaleidoscope had and is easily forgettable. Beyond the few aforementioned flashes Tasty is worthy of nothing more than a rental at best. And since you can’t rent CDs, save your hard-earned dollars for something else.

  Mixtape D.L.
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