Kelis opened up about her tumultuous marriage to Nas in an interview with Hollywood Unlocked, where she talked alleged mental and physical abuse, the extreme ups and downs of their relationship, and what parenting is—and should be—all about. 

“There was a lot of mental and physical abuse,” said Kelis in a surprisingly candid revelation. The “Milkshake” singer has never been as vocal about her marriage, with the most striking claim previously coming from Nas, when he called Kelis “hostile” during the couple’s child custody hearings. These days, Kelis is a chef, happily re-married, and launching her new Bounty & Full brand. 

“I’m living my life,” she said. “I’m cooking. I’m raising my kids and I’m very private.” The impulse to speak out about her ex-husband, Nas, might seem surprising, but Kelis seems like she genuinely needs to get some things off her chest—no matter how private a person she may be. 

“His memory is definitely faulty,” she said about Nas. “I’ve waited nine years to say anything. I have never talked about this man. The amount of airing out that I could do and don’t do is what our kids will find out.” Unfortunately, Kelis is alluding to alleged physical abuse here, with one of the hip-hop GOATS now being an accused domestic abuser. 

“Did he hit me?…..Mmm hmmm,” said Kelis. “Did I hit him back?…..Mmm hmmm.” 

According to Kelis, the beginning of their relationship was fun and beautiful, but largely so due to the excessive partying the pair did when they were young. “We had really intense highs and really intense lows,” she said. “It was never normal. An intense high would be when money was rolling in. But I was 22 when I met him. We were drinking a lot, getting high a lot. So when that comes down, it was bad.” And when it was bad, it was really bad—with a pregnant, allegedly abused Kelis reconsidering her options.

“An intense low….we had a lot,” she said. “It was really dark. A lot of drinking. A lot of mental and physical abuse and it got to the point where if I wasn’t pregnant, I might have stayed with him. I was pregnant and it was a mess and I felt like I wasn’t going to bring a child into this.” At one point, Kelis thought she was ready to speak out—spurred on by the transparency of Rihanna and Chris Brown’s abusive relationship in the media. 

“When the Rihanna and Chris Brown pictures came out I thought about coming out because I also had bruises all over my body,” she said. “But I didn’t say anything because I’m private. But seeing her the way she looked and then looking at myself…I felt embarrassed.” 

In regards to her former husband, Kelis considers him a “fraud” who “shows up when there’s a photo opp,” and how much of a disappointment Nas is as a parent. “A parent isn’t about showing up when you feel like it,” she said. “You can’t not show up for months and then show up and try to make up your own (visitation) schedule.” 

Perhaps most noteworthy in this whole exchange was Kelis’ plead for women all over to not stay silent, presumably reflecting on her self-identified label of “private,” when she asks others to have courage. “Women can’t be afraid to fight,” she said.