They say that good things come to those who wait, and after enduring a two-year wait for the release of her debut album, singer-songwriter Keri Hilson couldn’t agree more.
“In a Perfect World ...,” which was released last month, hit No. 1 on the Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart and has a huge hit with the song “Turning Me On,” featuring Lil Wayne.
Hilson, who has co-penned songs like Mary J. Blige’s “Take Me As I Am,” Britney Spears’ “Gimme More” and Omarion’s “Ice Box,” was supposed to release her album around the time she was riding high off Timbaland’s international smash, “The Way I Are,” which she co-wrote and was the featured singer. But despite the buzz around her, the album took time to see the light of day as it was reworked and reworked.
Hilson says the wait allowed her to pick records that “stood the test of time.” The delays also brought together high profile collaborations, like her newest single “Knock You Down,” with Kanye West and Ne-Yo.
The CD, which ranges from futuristic pop to smooth R&B to swagger-jamming hip-hop, is one Hilson plans to promote on tour for the next two years.
AP: Being that you’ve written songs for others, how was it different writing for your own album?
Hilson: I guess for myself I can be a little less inhibited. I don’t have to wonder and guess or assume how I feel about a certain situation — I know what it is that I want to say so it doesn’t have to pass inspection.
AP: How did the delays for the album’s release affect the music?
Hilson: In the interim while you’re trying to choose tracks, things do get kind of shuffled around, (but) it’s a good thing because it allows you to listen to records a little longer and live with them and you’re not making rush decisions trying to hurry up and close the album. So a lot of the records we stuck with stood the test of time. I was very excited that we didn’t have to rush my project and that the label cared enough about it to make sure it had a proper release.
AP: I remember hearing the song “Where Did He Go?” in 2006. Why’d you decide to keep it?
Hilson: The first weekend I met Timbaland, it was either the first or second night I worked on that song (and) that song alone created this bid war (for me) between all of the labels. “Where Did He Go?” is the record that made me understand how great of a chemistry Timbaland and I could have.
AP: Was there any fear you could get stuck being a songwriter only?
Hilson: Although I was content, I was a little unfulfilled that I wasn’t performing as well. So I didn’t pursue the artist thing after groups I was in disbanded, I just didn’t. I kind of always knew it would come back around, the chance and the opportunity would reach me and that I would be ready.
AP: What’s been the hardest part about being in the music industry?
Hilson: People say once I make it I don’t have to deal with (problems) anymore — oh no honey, you got plenty more you’re going to have to deal with. It may not be that problem, but there’s 20 more. The name of the game in my life lately since becoming more and more successful is preventive measures. And I’m just learning everyday it’s survival of the fittest because no one, not those at the top, not those at the bottom, no one’s exempt from hardship.
AP: There’s been a lot of talk about the “Turnin’ Me On” remix, which people interpret as a diss on Beyonce and Ciara. Do you think it got overplayed?
Hilson: People say all publicity is good publicity, I don’t necessarily think that because it’s like at what expense? Maybe I fell from grace in people’s eyes because of the things that I was saying, maybe I fell from grace in people’s eyes because they feel that I retracted even though that was never the intention behind it. But people are going to believe what they want to believe at the end of the day. I’ve learned I can’t please the world and I don’t have any intention to. There are fans that love and respect what I do and understand me and understand my humor, my wit and whatever it is I say on a song. They perceive it in the way it was supposed to be taken and I do music for those people that get me.