Kelis has claimed Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo “blatantly lied to” her and she made nothing from the sales of her first two albums.
The production duo, known as The Neptunes, met Kelis through a mutual friend when she was 19, and went on to produce her albums Kaleidoscope in 1999 and Wanderland in 2001.
But in an interview with Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, the 40-year-old star alleged she was left out of pocket after being “blatantly lied to and tricked” by “The Neptunes and their management and their lawyers and all that stuff”.
“I was told we were going to split the whole thing 33/33/33, which we didn’t do,” she said, adding that she didn’t initially notice the lack of funds because she was bringing in some money from touring and “just the fact that I wasn’t poor felt like enough”.
“Their argument is: ‘Well, you signed it.’ I’m like: ‘Yeah, I signed what I was told, and I was too young and too stupid to double-check it,” Kelis continued.
The singer went on to insist she’s not angry about the situation, crediting her lifestyle on a farm in America for helping her take on a new outlook on life.
“To be honest with you, I think if it were not for my faith, I feel like that would probably be the case. It’s very clear to me, especially being on a farm, that whatever you put in the ground, that is what’s going to come back to you,” she mused.
When it came to the production of her third album, Tasty, Kelis went with a variety of different producers due to her issues with The Neptunes. But she has seen Pharrell again since then – at an industry event where he was performing and she was in the audience.
“He did that thing to me that he’s notorious for, which is making a nod from the stage (to someone in the audience), so it seems like there’s mutual respect, when in reality …” she laughed. “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. Like, whatever.”
However, when asked if she’d ever work with Pharrell again, Kelis insisted: “Ummm, at that point there’s having faith and there is also just stupidity.”