Food and music always have been twin passions for Harlem-born Kelis Rogers. Let’s not forget that after two introductory albums of solid neo-soul, she broke big in the pop world with the indelible 2003 hit “Milkshake,” a tune from the aptly titled Tasty that stands as a sweeter pop confection from producer Pharrell Williams than even “Blurred Lines” or “Happy.” But she’s kept her loves separate since then, spending the latter half of the last decade out of the musical spotlight, recovering from her split with rapper Nas, working as a single mom, attending Le Cordon Bleu, and eventually landing a show on the Cooking Channel.
Now this effervescent and irrepressible talent is back singing in the kitchen, delivering exactly what the title of her sixth studio album Food promises: The tracks include “Jerk Ribs,” “Friday Fish Fry,” “Biscuits n’ Gravy,” “Cobbler,” and “Breakfast.” The singer’s four-year-old son introduces the latter—“Hey guys, are you hungry? My mom made food!”—and lest we think that what follows is less metaphorical than “Milkshake” was, Kelis drives home the chorus: “So much of who we are is from who first taught us how to love.”
After the odd EDM detour of Flesh Tone in 2010, the singer returns to her old neo-soul roots with producer Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio; they’re said to have created two sets worth of material, and that the other is much more trip-hop in nature. But Food is pure soul—you’ve gotta love that brass!—saucy and sweet, but full of pride and power, and absolutely delicious from start to finish.
Kelis, Food (Ninja Tune)
Rating on the 4-star scale: 4 stars.