Kelis Rogers, best known as Kelis, the singer behind the 2006 feminist anthem “Bossy,” has never projected herself in a way that could suggest that she is anything less than a woman of strength. Throughout her career, the “Milkshake” singer has been vocal and upfront about her opinions not just on how the music industry operates but how it treats its female artists as well. Still, despite her known quality of being frank, the part Chinese-Puerto Rican music artist has actively made a point to stay tightlipped about her relationships, particularly about the one relating to the father of her son and ex-husband Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones AKA Nas.
In a recent interview, however, Kelis broke her silence to speak about the abuse she endured during the couple’s seven-year relationship. Her recent admission has Latinas across social platforms ready to open about their own experiences with domestic abuse.
During the interview, Kelis spoke openly about her tumultuous and abusive relationship with Nas and the many years of shaming slung her way that kept her from speaking up.
CREDIT: Hollywood Unlocked/ Youtube.com
In an interview with Hollywood Unlocked, Kelis accused hip-hop recording artist and rapper of being mentally and physically abusive during the course of their relationship. “I’ve waited nine years to say anything. I’ve never talked about this man. Ever … Did he hit me? Mmhmm. Did I hit him back? Mmhmm,” she admitted. “I’m not afraid to throw a punch, but I wouldn’t have started it. I’ll participate in ending it, but I wouldn’t have started it.”
At one point the singer admitted that she had considered going public about the abuse after seeing Chris Brown’s 2009 assault of Rihanna.
“I remember so clearly, when the pictures came out with that whole thing that happened with her and Chris Brown, and the only way I can describe it was like Double Dutch. ‘Do I jump in? Do I say it?’ Cause I had bruises all over my body at that time. I remember being in Atlanta, sitting in the kitchen, and I was like, ‘Do I?’ And I wasn’t ready to walk. I just wasn’t. And so I didn’t say it.’”
She did, however, file for divorce from the rapper two months later. In perhaps one of the most poignant parts of the interview the singer recalled being called “crazy” by Nas’s fans in the months following this. She also shared how in the years since their breakup, as news headlines have reported on the legal arguments between the two musicians including her file for parental support for their son, she has been accused of being a “gold digger.”
And for the most part, Latina Twitter has expressed how the interview has them feeling BEYOND seen.
we only had his side of the story for years, she never spoke on their marriage, divorce – nothing at all. no one ever questioned it, why does he get the benefit of the doubt? now it's hear both side because we love me. no thanks
— Ummi Nas ?? (@brujadominicana) April 26, 2018
Domestic abuse in the Latino community is a very real issue that 1 in 3 Latinas will deal with in their lifetime. So often women fear speaking up about their abuse, not just because of the threats they face from their partners, but the rejection and accusations they risk taking on as soon as they out their abuser as well. In the years since her divorce from Nas, Kelis has often found herself on the receiving end of harsh criticisms for her decision to divorce the rapper. One look at #Kelis, which is currently trending on Twitter, and it’s easy to find a slew of derogatory words being attached to her name simply because of her decision to open up about Nas’s abusive behavior.
Many women have taken to Twitter to share their own experiences of being shamed into silence after enduring abuse.
"He's obsessed with his image, that's why you all thinks he's great and everyone thinks I'm a raging bitch." – Kelis on Nas
i feel this so hard. SO HARD.
— Thickashi Hatake (@iAmQueenRo) April 26, 2018
Various women on the platform are beginning to open up about their experiences with abuse and victim blaming for staying in a relationship that threatened their lives.
Some are even thanking the singer for speaking on an issue that hits way to close to home.
@kelis you're amazing. You're story mirrors mine when it comes to co-parenting. I know I'm not alone. Thank you for sharing.
— La Femme Negrita (@LaFemme_Negrita) April 26, 2018
Similar to the #MeToo movement launched in October last year, women have expressed how Kelis’s interview has reminded them that they are not alone.
One woman quickly pointed out how Nas’s abuse didn’t just come with physical blows either.
When Kelis said, “I paid the down payment and [Nas] paid the mortgage each month…until he decided to stop paying and i didn’t know until there was a foreclosure notice on my door.”
That is financial abuse at its best. I went through the same with my ex.
— Lil’ Mama Wakanda (@bossy_britt) April 26, 2018
Throughout the interview, Kelis underlined the many different ways the rapper inflicted emotional wounds on the singer as well. During one portion of the interview, she described how the rapper withheld financial support for her and her child after she had given birth by refusing to help make payments on a house they owned together.
Some called out how Nas has actively worked to silence Kelis by shame labeling her through his music and interviews.
Ya know what’s fkd up about the Kelis narrative, she’s never once spoken poorly of him. This is the first time she’s spoken about their relationship, & they’ve been divorced for 9 years… yet she’s consistently labeled as “crazy”
— TJ the Chicago Kid (@Slimtacular_) April 26, 2018
While Kelis has remained silent about the couple’s divorce for years, Nas has been extremely open about his criticisms over his relationship with Kelis. In 2012 he wrote and recorded the album “Life Is Good” after Kelis left him and filed for divorce. Not only did he air out his personal account of the relationship on the album he also made her wedding dress a focus on the “Life Is Good” cover album as well.
Kelis really spared Nas' reputation and he let her be portrayed as a ruthless, gold-digging liar out to destroy a black man. I am so angry
— Bossiper Lee (@TarkaTambo) April 26, 2018
Kelis’s account of her relationship is a heartbreaking one, still women are hopeful that her strength of speaking up will cause another trend.
The #metoo movement hasn't really touched hip-hop yet, and I've just been waiting for it to happen, because the rap culture is set up…
Kelis' story could open the flood gates for other women who were in relationships w/ your fav rappers to come forward. Be ready
— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) April 26, 2018
Many have hope that her honesty will inspire more women, particularly of the hip-hop and music realm which has largely gone unscathed in the wake of # MeToo, to share their stories.