Kelis Can Cook

SXSW food truck diva follows up with ‘Food’

By Abby Johnston, 1:20PM, Thu. Apr. 17

Kelis Can Cook

“I know that I don’t look it, but I can cook / I’m really pretty simple, I like what I should,” croons Kelis (Rogers) on “Floyd,” imbedded in next Tuesday’s new album Food. If her food truck tour d’Austin during South by Southwest last month was evidence of her simplistic palate, I beg to differ.

During SXSW, where free fare usually means a street grab of the popcorn brand of the moment, the goodies she offered from her truck were gourmet. The “Milkshake” singer dished out jerk barbecue goat ribs, duck confit sliders, shredded beef sliders, and coleslaw dressed with golden raisins and slivered almonds. The 34-year-old Harlem native also put on three festival gigs.

“My [goat ribs] bring all the boys to the yard / And they’re like, ‘It’s better than yours.’”

Okay, so maybe that line would’ve been a more in-your-face PR plug for her sixth album. The food truck was a natural way to debut Kelis’ upcoming projects, which all elaborate on her fascination with edibles (“Milkshake,” 2003’s Tasty). The soul singer had all but faded with the reception of 2010 disc Flesh Tone, then enrolled in culinary school to marry her love of food and career aspirations for a Top 40 hit.

It paid off, too. She snagged a show on the Cooking Channel, Saucy & Sweet, which premiered earlier this year. Her soundtrack suddenly had a caterer.

“Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy,” “Cobbler,” “Friday Fish Fry,” “Breakfast,” and “Jerk Ribs” sound more like a menu than Food’s tracklisting. Despite formal education at Le Cordon Bleu, Kelis leans toward down-home cooking, which matches her unfussy music sensibility. This is an LP to make fried green tomatoes to while barefoot in the kitchen, not fussing over soufflés.

Since 2003 landmark “Milkshake,” Kelis has tried out several recipes for success, falling somewhere within the profile of rap, pop, and soul. Food lays out her best meal yet, tucking into R&B roots. The result, if you’ll forgive me, is tasty.

Stream Food here.

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