UNIVERSAL CITY, California — Now that she’s been cast in a lead role in “Freddy vs. Jason,” Kelly Rowland feels ready for primetime. But should she really be moving into the “Leave It to Beaver” house?
Don’t worry, there’s no “Leave It to Booty” series in the works. When the Destiny’s Child singer and Patti LaBelle pulled a moving truck up to the eminent dwelling on the Universal Studios lot Tuesday, it was only for one scene.
Rowland and LaBelle, who provide the chorus and sample, respectively, on Nelly’s new “Dilemma,” joined the rapper and director Benny Boom to shoot a video for the #1 single on a street of famous television houses normally reserved for tourists.
“I’m the new girl in the neighborhood and my mother and I are moving in,” Rowland said of the scene. “And I’m seeing Nelly from across the way. He lives across the street and we catch each other’s eye. And it’s just chemistry from there on. I have a boyfriend, and I have a kid, and he wants to talk to me but I can’t do it. It puts us in a dilemma, which is the name of the song. And the video is going to tell the story perfectly.”
Basketball player Larry Hughes of the Washington Wizards plays Rowland’s boyfriend in the video, which includes a scene where he yells at the singer for saying hello to Nelly.
“It was funny ’cause he was doing the role, ‘Get in the car, girl!’ and I kept laughing at him,” Rowland said. ” ‘Cause it was so unreal. I must have ruined five takes.”
Rowland didn’t have that problem in her scenes with LaBelle. “She kind of looks like my mom, it’s really weird,” Rowland said. “She’s so nice. I love her.”
In one scene, Rowland is shopping at a record store when she thinks she sees Nelly, but it’s really someone else. “He’s so much on my mind, I’m really feeling this guy, I’m thinking about him all the time and I’m seeing him everywhere,” she explained.
One place Nelly has been omnipresent is on the charts, where his second album, Nellyville, and its singles “Hot in Herre” and “Dilemma” have been in top-five territory most of the summer. It’s the success of “Dilemma” that caused Rowland to move up the release date of her solo album from early 2003 to September 24 (see “Nelly Hit Forces Change In Plans For Destiny’s Child LPs” ).
However, “the sound is different from the Nelly song,” Rowland said of her album, Simply Deep, which she admitted to rushing to get done. “It’s edgey. I talk about some emotional things as far as my life is concerned. I talk about growing up without a father and me and my mother struggling.”
For some of her most emotional songs, particularly one titled “Alone,” Rowland looked to her cousin, Solange Knowles (Beyoncé’s sister), to write the lyrics.
“I told her exactly what I wanted it to be like,” Rowland said. “I wanted people to feel the pain that I felt [living in a broken home]. You can hear it in the vocals. We were all crying in the studio session, it was really emotional. That’s a special song for me.”
Solange, whose Solo Star is due in October, also penned the title track for Rowland’s album.
“Solange is an incredible writer,” Rowland said. “When you listen to it, it’s so hard to think she’s 16 years old. To write about love and so many things I’m talking about on the album, it blew me away. I’m like, ‘What are you thinking?’ I can’t even think that way.”
For the first time in her career, Rowland experimented with writing lyrics and structuring songs for Simply Deep. “I learned a lot in the last month and learned a lot about myself,” she explained. “I used to be scared to even try. Beyoncé used to be like, ‘You can put together a song, you can write!’ I did a little bit, just a taste, but I’m going to try to do more.”
Other writers and producers on the project include Damon Elliott (Pink), Alonzo Jackson (Eve), Anthony Dent (Jay-Z) and Troy Johnson (Nappy Roots).
“Dilemma” is the first single from the album, which will not include any other Destiny’s Child members.
“Beyoncé and Michelle couldn’t be on my album,” Rowland said, jokingly holding back fake tears. “But it’s only because they were busy. And I would rather see each of us busy and excited and doing what we’re doing and supporting and loving each other than fighting like cats and dogs. It’s been such a blessing to go out and do solo projects and all of them be #1. Beyoncé had the #1 movie, Michelle had the #1 gospel album, and I had the #1 single. You couldn’t ask for anything more. God is blessing us in wonderful ways, and the bond is still strong.”
Rowland said Destiny’s Child will record together early next year for an album to be released next fall.
“Freddy vs. Jason” is due in theaters next summer (see “Kelly Rowland Takes On Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees” ).