As a child, Kelis sang in church choirs and played violin, piano, and saxophone while attending Manhattan Country School, a private school.
At the age of 13, Kelis shaved off all of her hair.
During this time, Kelis featured on Ol' Dirty Bastard's U. A second single, "Good Stuff" (featuring Terrar of Clipse), reached number 19; the third, "Get Along with You", was less successful, reaching number 51. In 2001, Kelis won the BRIT Award for International Breakthrough Act and the NME Award for Best R&B/Soul Act, before joining Moby and U2 on their Area: One and Elevation tours, respectively. S., where it peaked at number 27 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 533,000 copies, according to Nielsen Sound Scan.
Kelis and the Neptunes' output at this time was heralded as foreshadowing an innovation in contemporary R&B, but she later said, "I was never an R&B artist. and earned Kelis a Grammy Award nomination in 2004 for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
People coined me one but that's because, especially if you're in the States, if you're black and you sing, then you're R&B". record company at the time, Virgin, had laid off those that worked on Kaleidoscope; their replacements did not understand or believe in Wanderland, which led her to leave the label around the time of the album's European release. Although the Neptunes contributed several tracks to Tasty—the album was released by their label Star Trak Entertainment, a joint venture with Arista Records—Kelis began collaborating with other producers, such as Dallas Austin, André 3000, Rockwilder, and Raphael Saadiq.
Kelis's second album, Wanderland, was released in 2001 in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, but did not receive a North American release. In 2002, Kelis recorded "So Be It" for the Red Hot Organization's Fela Kuti tribute CD, Red Hot and Riot, from which all proceeds were donated to AIDS awareness charities. She stated in an interview: "I felt like I had a lot to prove with this album.
Kelis began recording her debut album, Kaleidoscope, in mid-1998 and was finished within a year.