Kelis’s low-profile lifestyle appealed to her new boyfriend. “She was the most humble person I could have expected to meet,” Nas says. “It blew me away. I’m humble myself, and it’s a lot of fucked-up people out there. Meeting her was just relaxing.”
And she echoes the sentiment: “We have the most calm relationship. We had a good solid year where we really got to get into each other. Neither one of us are party people anyway, so when we do [go to a party], we do it together and we have a good time. Then he’ll whisper to me, ‘Let’s go watch Best In Show,’ and then we leave.
“It was a while before we were able to see just how incredible this was,” Kelis continues wistfully. “Nas was going through a lot—his mother had just passed—and that was really serious for him. Him even being able to open up was really hard. He wanted to, and that’s what kept it going. What was cool for him was that I didn’t hang around waiting. He’d call me and I’d be like, ‘Wheeee! I’m rollerblading, I’ll call you back.’ I had my life.
“Every move that we’ve made has been him—let’s really take this seriously, let’s move in together, let’s get married. I never pressured him to do anything. It happened really slowly and gradually and one day we just locked in, and it was so comfortable.”
You can’t pressure a man to do something—if he’s gonna do it, he’s gonna do it.
’Twas the night before Christmas, 2002—Noche Bueno, Kelis calls it, in the Puerto Rican tradition—and her mother’s house was teeming with family and friends. “All my best friends from high school were there, my sisters, my cousins,” she recalls, “And I brought him along, too.”
While most of the guests were assembled in the living room, Nas took Kelis aside and presented her with a ring. “He could not have known me better that day,” she says, beaming. “He didn’t do it in front of everybody. He gave the ring to me alone, then let me tell my girlfriends. It was so much sooner than I expected. You can’t pressure a man to do something—if he’s gonna do it, he’s gonna do it.”
“She’s my best friend,” Nas says. “Because me and her started at the same age as far as getting on, we lived a full life already compared to your average person. To get married now, it’s only right.”
The happy twosome has decided to spend less time thinking about today and more time looking toward the future. To that end, they just bought a house deep in the Atlanta exurbs. “There’s deer and lizards in my neighborhood,” Kelis says, laughing. “I wake up and there’s lizards on the window.” She makes a face, then laughs at herself wildly.
“Right after Christmas, I was there three months by myself, in this big empty house. Nas was on tour, and there was no one, no furniture, no nothing. At certain points, you’re like, If I’m not good company for myself, then I’m not good company for anyone else. I’d built up this wonderful callus on myself, and after all that’s happened to me lately, I don’t have it anymore. I’m totally flesh right now, and it feels amazing.”
ADDITIONAL CREDITS: STYLING: Atiba newsome/NU America Agency. MAKEUP: Devra Kinery. HAIR: Hector Pocasanger/Photogenics LA. MANICURE: Deana Blackwell/Go Girl NYC. COVER IMAGE: Skirt by Marni. FIRST IMAGE: Bra, panty, garter belt, and stockings by Agent Provocateur / shoes by Manolo Blahnik. SECOND IMAGE: Swimsuit by Norma Kamali / shoes by Fendi / jewelry by Showroom 7. THIRD IMAGE: Dress by Ungaro / shoes by Manolo Blahnik / jewelry by Jacob & Co. FOURTH IMAGE: Top by Sass 'N Bide / jewelry by Jacob & Co.