Kelis: Fleshtone

Posted September 13, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

kelis00Dirty hip-hop diva makes a comfortable transition into Euro-disco queen on fifth album release

Sometimes an ounce of bravery is all an artist needs to enter into that next stratosphere of career defining. For Kelis, bravery has been her best friend. “Milkshake” made her a household name, with some dirty diva characteristics. But label changes and some production shifts gave Kelis a new lease on life (and a second coming with “Bossy”). Still, in the midst of all of that, she hasn’t gotten the statewide acceptance she’s been vying for since her U.S. debut. Plus, she’s recouping from a hectic divorce from famed rapper Nas.

Now marching like an updated 21st version of Donna Summer, Kelis enters into the rave underworld of electronica and trance-dance on Flesh Tone. The album, designed by a list of heavy mixers including David Guetta, DJ Ammo and Alle & Benassi and with the blessing of, paces like a DJ’s friendly mix tape with each song segueing right into the next with well-paced interludes and charmed instrumentals. She gets the blessing of Euro-synth pop on most of the tracks; swerving through energetic offerings like “22nd Century” and the resilient club popper “Home.” On “4th of July (Fireworks),” Kelis testifies of new love (“Didn’t think I needed you/Never seemed to/Now I’m living proof/And now I’m brand new…Nothing I’ll ever say or do will be as good as loving you”) and sings with the glowing grace of a trained disco diva. While fans are becoming more acquainted with Kelis’s new sound, she unmasks more of her privateness on the parenthood letter “Song for the Baby.” The song cuddles up with warm Mommy dearest phrases (“I love you more than you’ll ever know”) and an engaging set of timeless disco beats marinated with the occasional horn ad-libs. It’s a bonus of a joy to know that all the songs are cohesive in their fluidity as they are strung together by the opening segments. Knowing that there are over a dozen of producers piecing Flesh Tone together, things could have been a bit chaotic and uneven.

Only problem about the album is its obvious quickness; only bearing nine tracks set to thirty seven minutes. It’s mediocre complaint for those that find it a bore to listen to never-ending, four-on-the-floor, 90 BPM grooves, but a 30-minute episode is equivalent to a processional in a disco. It’s a big change with lots of promise and vibrancy for Kelis’s future. A single track from Flesh Tone might not turn up on the R&B charts anytime soon. But if has his way, Kelis won’t need it. Just take a glance at the Black Eyed Peas and their alternative disco renaissance.



  • Release Date: 17 May 2010
  • Label: Music/Interscope
  • Producers:  Ammo, Alle Benassi, Benny Benassi, Printz Boards, Burns, D.I.M., David Guetta, Damien Leroy, Boys Noize, Fred Riesterer, Free School, El Tocadisco,
  • Track Favs: 4th of July (Fireworks), Song for the Baby, Acapella

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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