It’s rather rude of me to admit it, but the main reason Kelis’ Tasty attracted my attention was because of the Neptunes.
When the people behind the glass have more cachet than the person on the front cover, something isn’t right.
But Tasty isn’t entirely the Neptunes’ show. Given the spectrum of producers who worked on the album — Dallas Austin, Raphael Saadiq, Andre 3000 of OutKast — Kelis herself deserves nods for threading together a tight album from divergent styles.
There’s a bit of something for everyone.
Austin’s rock contributions, “Trick Me” and “Keep It Down”, have been dismissed elsewhere, but both tracks are a nice contrast — like the token rock track Utada Hikaru includes on her albums.
Saadiq offers Kelis the smoothest and sexiest tracks on the album with “Glow” and “Attention”. “Marathon,” in contrast, makes for a poignant conclusion.
If anything, Andre 3000’s “Millionaire” sticks out the most. The eccentricities that powered The Love Below are only slightly toned down on this track, and he pretty much upstages Kelis throughout the song.
The Neptunes, however, provide the foundation over which Kelis pours her raspy, sultry voice. “Milkshake” may be one of those nonsense singles you’d wish would go away, but the belly-dancing slinky-ness (what an awful fake word) makes it difficult to ignore.
“Flashback” and “Protect My Heart” have drawn comparrisons to 80s R&B, against which I can’t really argue either.
Tasty is a smart album, diverse enough to keep listeners engaged, coherent enough not to drive them crazy.
And yet …
Kelis isn’t a flashy singer, which is refreshing in a genre where most singers stash 10 notes to a syllable.
While Kelis has managed to pull together a full album’s worth of strong material, there’s a nagging suspicion a little more flash would push Tasty to another level.
Kelis isn’t Mary J. Blige, but what if Blige worked with the calliber of collborators on Tasty?
The album works regardless, the least of which is a fitting title. Tasty, indeed.