We’ve heard the rumors – a diss track to Ciara and Bey, possible romantic ties to Mr. Heartbreak & 808s Kanye West – but who is Keri Hilson really? Ask Omarion, Mary J. Blige, or Britney Spears and they might tell you that she is a master songwriter whose songs are instant chart toppers. Ask friends and family and you’ll probably hear stories of the young girl with dreams of making it big in the music industry; so much so that she was given the nickname “Keri-oke” due to her irrepressible urge to sing, even in the most inappropriate places. But ask Keri herself and you won’t get a clear cut answer. An undeniable talent that’s still getting used to the limelight, Keri Hilson is whatever she decides to be at the moment. The moment I got the chance to speak with her she was sick, but coughing and froggy voice aside, she was a consummate professional, answering questions with an upbeat open candor that draws you in. She’s so normal and humble. So humble that she takes every opportunity to interact with her fans and is upset when she can’t give them her all. On her Twitter feed she apologizes to a fan she feels might have felt slighted:
“I would never say “next” to anyone…he may have been upset or maybe no one told him I couldn’t personalize the cd’s. I wanted to get to everyone who came, whether they bought the cd or not, so we had to do everything as quick as possible. I apologize homeboy for the way u may have misinterpreted the situation. I assure you I wasn’t being a bitch at all. I appreicate anyone who goes out of their way to come see me!”
You’d never think her album, In a Perfect World just hit number one on the Billboard charts. And you realize maybe that’s because it hasn’t totally sunk in yet. “It feels good,” Hilson says. “I haven’t had much time to really ponder it, but it’s an awesome feeling. It’s almost like – it’s part of the journey, I guess. You don’t expect things, because you can’t do that obviously. You’d be setting yourself up for disappointment all the time in this industry if you expected anything.” But even with fame there’s a downside. She’s had to adjust to the loss of the anonymity she enjoyed as a songwriter, having to throw on makeup and heels a little more than she’d like. She’s also become a favorite of the rumor mill. There’s been more than a little talk about the infamous diss track that wasn’t, but Keri takes it all in zen-like stride.
“I understand that people are going to talk and I also understand that you can’t please the world. It’s not going to be unanimous approval on everything I wear, everything I say, or everything I sing. I understand that I can’t please everyone and I’d be a fool to try. Sometimes it’s annoying to have to talk about it in interview after interview, but I’m fine with it.”
Beyond all the glitz, glamour and drama lies the music and that’s what all the buzz is about. Hilson has four tracks that are burning up the airwaves, but behind the upbeat tempos and catchy hooks, there’s a message of being comfortable in your own skin and embracing every strength and flaw that Keri hopes listeners take heed to.
“I’d love for people to be able to listen to this album and be like ‘wow, I can talk about this with my girls or I can come out of this situation stronger,’” she said. “They’ll get to see someone who also made the mistake of making Mr. Wrong into Mr. Right…I just really want women to be able to relate to it and know that it’s okay to embrace your vulnerabilities and insecurities. It’s okay to miss somebody. We all make mistakes. I really want women to be able to relate to this and feel a certain strength in embracing their true selves, not the front. Not the heel-wearing, good-smelling, nice clothes-wearing, makeup-wearing front that we put on – not that woman, the woman on the inside. The person we really are, how we really think and feel about certain situations.”
At the top of her game with her star on the rise, Keri Hilson is bringing something fresh. So if you’re looking for more of the same mindless R&B, with the same old “cookie cutter kind of sequin, prom dress-wearing kind of artist,” you should look elsewhere. Her album is just like her, an interesting mix of styles and ideas that come together to create an entertaining experience that you just want more and more of. It might not be a perfect world, but Keri shows us you can make it yours if you put your all in it.
Keri Hilson “Turn My Swag On”
For more information on Keri Hilson please visit www.kerihilsonmusic.com.