Kelis doesn't really hate you so much right now.
As "Young, Fresh & New," the first single from her next album, attests, the R&B singer is still in your face but forget that image of the infuriated woman with the multicolored afro closing in for the kill.
"I think everything I do is kind of in your face just because that's the kind of person I am. I don't speak softly," Kelis said Wednesday. "But 'Young, Fresh & New' isn't what you'd consider an angry song. It's a statement song, about what I think we should all strive to be. But if people are expecting me to come out screaming and angry, it's not that."
Her second album, Wanderland, featuring production work by the Neptunes and musical accompaniment on one track by No Doubt, is slated to hit shelves in September. Kelis and her eight-woman band will spend the summer playing gigs on both sides of the Atlantic, turning up on Moby's Area: One tour in July and then heading off to support U2 on the European leg of their Elevation Tour.
Kelis, 21, said she wrote about 80 percent of the new album, whereas she penned only three songs on her 1999 debut, Kaleidoscope, which featured the seething single "Caught Out There" with the chorus "I hate you so much right now!"
"I think it's a very clear step up from my last album," she said. "I'm totally thrilled with it. It's a really personal record. It's the kind of record that, like, the entire world could hate it and I'd still be in my house, going 'Woo-hoo!' I'm so content with it because it's so me. If people don't receive it, they don't receive me. I'm praying that they do, though."
Guest songwriter Gwen Stefani co-wrote "Perfect Day" with the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams, and the rest of No Doubt back Kelis on the track. The album also features the songs "Flashback," "Mr. UFO Man" and "Junkie," which is contending to be the album's second single. "It's about being strung out on this guy, totally strung out," Kelis said. "I think we've all been there before."
"The entire album is a roller coaster of emotion," she said. "It's basically [me saying], 'Enter my world.'"
Kelis will shoot the video for 'Young, Fresh & New," with Diane Martel (Mariah Carey, Method Man & Redman) in Los Angeles this weekend. The clip will feature her riding around, picking up hitchhikers. "The vibe is that we can all be free," she said.
The singer was on hand at Busta Rhymes' video shoot Wednesday for his song "What It Is," on which she sings the hook. The track appears on Violator the Album: V2.0, due July 24 (see "Busta Surrounded By Stars, Corpses In Latest Projects").
Kelis teamed with Foxy Brown to record "Candy" for Brown's new disc, Broken Silence, and she turns up on "Truth or Dare," from the Neptunes' debut album as N.E.R.D., titled In Search Of ...
Kelis, who also has made cameos on tracks by Ol' Dirty Bastard, Moby and Gang Starr's Guru, said she doesn't worry that her popularity as a guest vocalist may overshadow her own work.
"For a second there, I was like, 'I just need to focus on me or I'll have a million hot tracks that don't belong to me," she said. On the other hand, with all those collaborations under her belt, nobody can call her the new girl anymore.
"It's hard being new," she said. "It's not fun having to prove yourself and giving people an idea of who you are and how you want to be perceived. This is my second time around and I feel a lot more comfortable in my skin."