They say airing your dirty laundry in public is uncouth, but when your entire life is in the spotlight, they're bound to see it anyway. On her brand-new single released on Wednesday (May 15), Kelly Rowland unapologetically is putting everything on the clothesline for the entire world to see -- even the delicates, from her acknowledged jealousy of Beyoncé to an abusive relationship that still seems to haunt her.
And from the sounds of "Dirty Laundry," a collaboration with The-Dream off Rowland's upcoming Talk a Good Game album, she's got an awfully heavy load. It's everything the 32-year-old has kept in for 10 years in the form of smooth R&B — with each chapter separated by melancholy coos that "when you're soaked in tears for years, it never airs out/ When you make pain look this good, it never wears out."
"When my sister was onstage, killing it like a mother----er / I was enraged, feeling it like a mother---er," Rowland sings in chapter one. If it wasn't clear that that "sister" is Kelly's former Destiny's Child comrade, she makes it perfectly crystal when she refers to Bey's rapid rise to fame after the trio's 2001 album. And while the spotlight shone so brightly on the Queen-to-be, Kelly was in the dark throes of an abusive relationship. "Post-Survivor she's on fire, but who wants to hear my bullsh--? Meanwhile this n---a is putting his hands on me / I swear y'all don't know the half of this industry."
"I was battered. He's hitting the window like it was me, until it shattered," she later sings, before explaining in the epilogue that it was he who manipulated Rowland to turn her back on everyone, including Beyoncé. "He pulled me out and said don't nobody love you but me, not your momma not your daddy and especially not Bey/ He turned me against my sister, I missed Ya."
While the track is decidedly doleful, Rowland told Billboard on Wednesday that her goal was to inspire fans, not bring them down.
"It was very emotional. It took me days to record," she told the magazine. "I had to get past being so upset and actually sing the song, not sob through it. I always hope that my music can inspire someone, the same way other artists inspire me."
The-Dream added that he "pushed" Kelly to hold nothing back on the track. "When you have a stage like Kelly has, you should talk about that part of your life," he said. "I think Kelly's way deeper than that."
In addition to "Dirty Laundry," Kelly will also team up with The-Dream on "Where Have You Been?" off his May 28 release, IV Play.
And if you like what you hear on "Dirty Laundry," be sure to catch The-Dream and Kelly on their Lights Out Tour this summer. The jaunt kicks off on May 23 in Minneapolis and wraps up on June 28 in San Francisco. May we suggest packing some Kleenex?