By Denay Harris, Courier Daily Editor
March seemed to be the start of the perfect world for new solo artist/song writer Keri Hilson, as Hilson released her first solo album, “In a Perfect World.”
The album, originally due to be released in 2007, but delayed by many setbacks, is well worth the wait.
Representing the “dirty south,” 27-year-old Hilson was born in Decatur, GA, only a few miles outside of Atlanta, according to the biographical material provided by her publicist. Known as “Keri-Okey” by her friends, she has been on this musical journey for a while now. Growing up watching shows like Star Search and Showtime at the Apollo, she was already planning a career in music at age 12.
By that age, she had already taught herself to write songs. Her piano/voice teacher urged her to the studio. Hilson says, “That was when I really knew that I could take music seriously.” That’s exactly what she did. By 18, Hilson was arranging songs, cutting vocals and engineering sessions.
So, Hilson at 27 is an R&B/ Hip-Hop artist who has been around for many years, but not as a solo artist.
Before her current solo career, Hilson was a part of two failed girl groups, named Pretty Toni and D'Sign. Hilson also worked, as a songwriter and background vocalist, with producer Anthony Dent, who's worked with the likes of Destiny's Child and P. Diddy.
With connections within the industry Hilson wrote several songs, many of them chart-toppers, in the mid-2000s as part of the five-person production/songwriting team known as the Clutch ,and did backup vocals, for many popular artists including Usher, Ludicrous, Kelly Rowland, Ciara, and up-and-coming Southern rap producer Polow da Don.
As these were not the success for which Hilson wished, she continued to pursue her dream of stardom.
Her connection with fellow southerner and rap producer Polow da Don moved Hilson closer to her perfect world. Polow da Don introduced her to super producer Timbaland, who after hearing Hilson vocals did not hesitate to sign the multi-talented artist to his growing Mosley Music imprint in 2006.
Not one to fail to take advantage of an opportunity, she began to work on her debut album.
“I come across a lot of people who are opportunist and they’re like, ’if it happens, it happens.’ I’m not one of those. I’m a go getter,” she said. With this in mind Hilson never stopped for a second in search of her dream.
After a couple pre-release singles, “Energy,” the first world single was released as a digital download in May of 2008. It charted at number 78 on the Billboard Top 100, number 21 and 72 on R&B 100 and Pop 100 respectively. Then the second single, “Return the Favor,” was released in October 2008. It failed to chart. But Hilson's third single, “Turnin’ Me On," featuring Lil Wayne, was released in November 2008 and has been Hilton’s most successful solo offering to date, as it peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Top 100, number 2 and 28 on R&B 100 and Pop 100 respectively. It was also the first single to chart in Canada, although it did only reach number 80.
The album, which has a mix of hip- hop and R&B songs, is seemingly dedicated to the ladies, and many of Hilson's songs on this album talk about relationships, such as her song “Change Me” featuring Akon. Other featured celebrity artists on “In A Perfect World” include Timbaland, Keyshia Cole, and Ne-Yo.
“I want my album to convey a sense of reality,” said Hilson. Some of the main messages throughout the album involve the struggles of life, and love.
One piece of reality on the album is the sparse use of special vocal effects. “I don’t like a lot of effects, it takes away from the emotion," Hilson said.
In A Perfect World debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
“Music is definitely changing.," Hilson said, "I want to be the crux of that. I want to be a reason not a result”.
Hilson's newest single, “Knock You Down," featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo, the fourth single from the album, was released on March 2009 and is making its way toward the top of the ch