In an interview with The Guardian published on Thursday, Kelis has accused Pharrell and Chad Hugo, known together as the producing duo The Neptunes, of stealing the profits and publishing from her first two albums Kaleidoscope and Wanderland.
After meeting Pharrell and Hugo in her late teens, Kelis says she signed contracts that, unbeknownst to her, were written in favor of the two producers. “I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” Kelis told The Guardian, claiming she was "blatently lied to and tricked" in the process.
Kelis identifies “the Neptunes and their management and their lawyers" as the people responsible for her not seeing any of the profits from the sales of either Kaleidoscope or Wanderland. "Their argument is: ‘Well, you signed [the contracts].’ I’m like: ‘Yeah, I signed what I was told, and I was too young and too stupid to double-check it.’”
Despite never having previously spoken publicly about the allegations, Kelis says they've been on her mind for years. She recounts an occasion "a few years back" when Pharrell acknowledged her from the stage with a nod during a performance: “I’m like, OK, I’m not going to yell back: ‘You stole all my publishing!’ So you end up nodding back and everyone thinks everything’s great."
In 2018, Kelis accused her ex-husband Nas of domestic abuse; Nas denied the charges in an essay.
Kelis will tour Europe this year to commemerate the 20th anniversary of Kaleidoscope.
Revisit all the features from The FADER's "Kelis Week" in 2017.