2003 was a year when commercial R&B was being fused with Hip Hop to create a new sound for R&B artists to give a meaner edge to their music. Kelis was one of the forerunners for this sound and whilst unable to hit the vocal heights of artists such as Mary J Blige or Beyonce Knowles she was presented to a host of top producers who helped her create her most successful set to date “Tasty”.
“Tasty” was the third studio album released by Kelis who had achieved moderate success with Kalediscope and lesser with ‘Wanderland”. Both her first two albums were written and produced by ‘The Neptunes’ who consisted of duo Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo.
Whilst the Neptunes do write and produced on “Tasty” they are only involved in 5 of the 14 songs.
“Tasty” is a Neo Soul/Contemporary R&B album which contains much sexual innuendo and never takes itself too seriously which is key to the best bits and reasons for the worsts on this set.
Kelis had struggled to become well known with her previous two albums and despite appearing on ODB’s classic “Got Your Money” and then having a minor hit with her own “Caught Out There” (which was famous for the chorus ‘I hate you so much right now!’) she had not been able to break through to mainstream chart success despite being produced by the hottest producers in the game.
This album was the breakthrough commercially for Kelis but it’s a patchy affair.
The intro goes on for over a minute and it is just Kelis being overtly sexual by telling someone to “Taste this” whilst he slurps in a vulgar way.
“Trick Me” is the first full track on the album and was released as the second single. It is a song which has stood the test of time and still receives airplay today. It is a funky almost reggae infused track which is full of sassiness and tinged with a bit of humour.
Nothing on the album comes close to recreating this vibe which Kelis had put down so well on “Trick Me”.
The biggest hit on the album and by far the most successful track Kelis has ever released is “Milkshake”. Neptunes produced, it is a song that has been synonymous with her for many years.
“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
And they’re like
It’s better than yours,
Damn right it’s better than yours,
I can teach you,
But I have to charge”
Whilst I recall dancing to this song in clubs I never enjoyed it. Her voice on the chorus is higher pitched and annoying. The lyrics are idiotic and whilst there are those that will argue that it was more creative than the more polite soulful tracks on the album I would have to point out that it may be different but that doesn’t warrant it being any good.
“Keep It Down” is starts with a more rock sounding intro. The guitar and drums are loud and Kelis mentions the Beastie Boys in the lyrics which is I feel is an influence in that part of the song. The song doesn’t really go anywhere and get’s tiresome before the 2 minute mark because it’s style and structure doesn’t alter. It just isn’t very interesting.
On the fifth track we see Kelis joined by rapper Nas. She was in a relationship with Nas at the time so seemed a perfect time to team up with a well respected rapper. The track “In Public” suffers from an attempt to be sexy turning into just mindless vulgarity. The fun sound on the rest of the album is let down by this track which has a monotonous backing tune which makes the whole thing sound a little uncomfortable.
“Let’s get it on in public
Just let it go I promise that you’ll love it
Oh daddy don’t you wanna be my subject
Ooh let’s get it on in public Ooh”
The Neptunes deliver their trademark sound on “Flashback” and the following track “Protect My Heart”. The familiar sound sees these songs get a little lost and I never know why these tracks were placed together.
“Flashback” has a more somber tone with “Protect My Heart” seeming a little more lively despite the content of the lyrics which are arguably more serious. I like “Protect My Heart” as Kelis’ voice is seductive and silky.
Andre 3000 from Outkast writes, produces and features on the track “Millionaire”. This is a really fun track and one of the best on the album. I always feel this should have been a bigger hit as it would have ticked many boxes needed for a pop song at the time with it being lively, club and radio friendly and one you can just sing along to. The rap from Andre 3000 is cheeky as hell but I always get massive enjoyment in bellowing out the lyrics.
Soul singer and producer Raphael Saddiq helps out on “Glow” which is the most soulful song on the album. It doesn’t offer anything new to the Neo Soul genre but it is certainly a good effort. It’s chilled out and shows that Kelis can compete with the more respected R&B sound with 90’s influences.
“Sugar Honey Iced Tea” follows a similar pattern. I like this song. It’s got a lovely vibe and is a world away from the brash and unnecessary “In Public” which now feels even more out of place.
Saddiq is back on “Attention” which is sadly lackluster and is one for the skip button.
“Rolling Through The Hood” is slightly better. It tells a story of how Kelis has spotted her man talking to another woman and she has seen him give her his number. My problem is that if she was merely ‘rolling’ through the hood, how did she manage to see so much without being noticed. In the second verse she sees her man with his friends and he points at another woman. I think the song should be renamed “Stalking through the hood”.
“Stick Up” is the point where I realise that “Tasty” is simply running out of ideas as we near the end. The production on this track is so very boring. The melody is void of any real emotion. It features a rap which is tired and uninteresting.
“Marathon” is the final track on the album. Scattered handclaps can be heard with Kelis coming in with a quick lyric
“Love is this marathon, I’m running for you baby
And you don’t know me yet but faith is all I have, see
And I’m gonnnaaaaa
Win this race”
The verse is slower paced and whilst I like the inclusion of the synth and bass they are not very prominent and the song again just sounds a bit dull. You would be forgiven for thinking the past 4 tracks were on the same album as “Milkshake” “Trick Me” and “Millionaire”.
Kelis recently brought out an album call “Food”. It is an excellent album where Kelis shows how creative and exciting an artists she can be.
“Tasty” may have given her a couple of hits but the album which was meant to secure her spot as a commercially successful “R&B” artists just ends up as a popular producer off cuts project in which I am sure none of these big producers would claim as their best work.