Keri Hilson: I Can't Please Everyone
Hilson began her career penning hit records for music’s biggest names, including: Britney Spears, Beyonce, Usher, Ciara and Mary J. Blige and later turned the industry on its ear with show-stopping collaborations with Timbaland, Ne-Yo and Kanye West. Somehow Hilson has managed to maintain a relevant voice as a songwriter and create fresh music of her own. “Sometimes you do get stumped,” says Hilson. “You’re like, ‘Man, I’ve talked about that.’ But no one has heard me deliver it in the way that I deliver it so sometimes I am talking about a subject that I’ve written about for someone else before, but I deliver it differently.”
Hilson will release her second album, No Boys Allowed, on Dec. 21. The 12-track set features collaborations with J. Cole, Nelly, Kanye West, Rick Ross and Chris Brown. While other artists may feel significant pressure following a successful debut, Hilson is surprisingly calm about the new album’s reception.
“I am in a place where I’m a lot less concerned with how things are received. That mindset for me right now is a gift. I don’t feel the pressure to be liked or loved by everyone. I can’t please everyone. You’re not going to win that battle, even when you feel like you are doing something everyone will like. People have something to say no matter what, so I may as well be myself.”
It is this confidence and strong sense of self that thematically propels Hilson’s latest offering. Driven by the hit singles “Breaking Point” and “Pretty Girl Rock,“ No Boys Allowed is a call to arms for women everywhere. “Sonically [the album] is the same, but the topics and my delivery are probably a little more aggressive,” says Hilson of the evolution of her sound. “The core of it is still emotional, the tone of it is still coming from the same place. Women do need girl power, we do need the togetherness that my music may bring them.”
Watch Hilson channel some of the greatest women in music in her "Pretty Girl Rock" video:
Hilson is proud of the strong female perspective she is known for bringing to her music and the music she writes for others, but the aptly-titled No Boys Allowed is not the type of man-bashing anthology the title may suggest.
“No Boys Allowed and me writing from the perspective that I write from is never meant to alienate men,” says Hilson. “I know men will listen [to it], hear it, come across it, but it’s more like a conversation piece for me to be able to say to them what I think they should know about women.”
Watch Hilson hang with the troops during rehearsals for the show.
Hilson is planning her very own tour of duty early next year in promotion of the new album. “I will be touring probably at some point in January,” says Hilson. “In January we will be putting everything together to hit the road again. That’s the fun part--the really fun part.”
From her tour, Hilson notes, fans should expect the unexpected. “I switch it up every time,” says Hilson. “I don’t want that part to become mundane, because, though the music might get old to me, to those people that come out and bought a ticket that music still might be very fresh.”
Before Hilson gears up for the tour, she is heading home to strike up some holiday cheer with family. “We have a lot of family traditions that we still do since we were kids,” says Hilson. “I come from a family of 7 in all so if we don’t stick to tradition it’s just not the same. We have to do the things we always did.”
Check out Hilson's take on "The Christmas Song" from "A Very BET Christmas"
Not only is Hilson looking forward to continuing family traditions this season, she admits that a CD is all that sits atop her Christmas list. “I’ve always wanted to read the Bible cover to cover,” says Hilson. “I think it’s called ‘The Bible Experience,’ but they had all of these actors reenact the Bible on CD, so I really want that.”
Aside from taking over the music industry as we know it, Hilson’s New Year’s resolution reflects the same humble aspirations that not only brought her from Decatur, Georgia to Interscope Records, but will undoubtedly drive her to greater success in years to come. “It’s always the same,” says Hilson. “It’s to work on being a better person.”