Kelis’ musical journey is a rather unusual one. Her breakthrough single, “Milkshake,” is one of the most memorably hits of the 2000s, and it’s still bringing all the boys to the yard. None of her singles since have matched the success of that song, although “Bossy” demands the same amount of attention. On Flesh Tone (2010) Kelis for the most part ditched the hip-hop realm her previous hits sat in, and in the process sounding more comfortable than ever before. Chalk it up to motherhood if you like, but Tone really set Kelis apart from her peers. While EDM certainly was already a fixture on Top 40, no singer sounded as comfortable in that environment as she did.
We got a small taste of new Kelis music on the excellent “Copy Cat” (2011), with her reminding everyone just how much she’s been an influence in the game. While that track had everyone expecting Flesh Tone, Pt. 2, her first official single off her new studio album, due out in September, is yet another musical 180 turn. She enlisted TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek to produce the album, and the pairing works wonders. With “Jerk Ribs,” Kelis hits the same sweet spot inhabited by TV On The Radio’s excellent Dear Science. Her vocals have becoming increasingly soulful, and the production here fits perfectly in line with her performance. There is a retro-vibe to the track, in large part due to the inclusion of a thrilling horn section, and when the chorus hits with Kelis crooning, “It feels just like it should,” there is not an objection to be heard from the audience.
“Jerk Ribs” is featured on Kelis’ new album, FOOD, due out this September.