Kelis’ courage and eloquence will inspire other women | Rebecca Nicholson

The singer has done a valuable service by speaking out about her toxic relationship with rapper Nas

The frank interview given by Kelis to Hollywood Unlocked, in which she discusses her “toxic” marriage to the rapper Nas, is an extraordinary and important thing.

The singer described a violent relationship that involved “a lot of drinking, a lot of physical and mental abuse”. She says that in nine years this is the first time she has talked about it in public and has rarely mentioned him before, other than by using platitudes or evasion. Nas, on the other hand, was pictured with part of her wedding dress on the cover of the album he released after their divorce, Life Is Good, and has seemed less reluctant to discuss their breakup. He has not yet responded to her accusations.

Kelis says that when she saw pictures of Rihanna in 2009, bruised after being brutally attacked by her then-boyfriend, Chris Brown, it made her look at her own situation. At the time, Kelis says she was also covered in bruises. But she wasn’t ready to talk; she explains that it made her “embarrassed”, that she did not want that to define her career, that she wanted her marriage to work. “I’m not frail, I’m not scared, I’m not weak,” she says, almost as if trying to work out how she had ended up in that situation, how she stayed in it and why.

Such openness and self-examination are bracing, and it matters, as does the idea that talking about these things – where appropriate, where possible, where safe – can have a domino effect. It’s what has driven the #MeToo movement with such momentum: if, in a roundabout way, Rihanna made Kelis examine her life, then Kelis may well be repeating that pattern for another person to do the same. It’s as powerful as it is courageous.

Contributor

Rebecca Nicholson

The GuardianTramp

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