Singer/songwriter Keri Hilson reveals the true story behind her track with kanye West & Ne-Yo, “Knock You Down”. She also talks about traveling, making the transition to artist, and working with Britney Spears.
Part 1: Traveling, Story Behind “Knock You Down”
Part 2: Writing for Britney, Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em “Collab”
Keri Hilson’s most uncharacteristic moment may prove to me the most career shaping in her transition from songwriter to singer, yielding the biggest track from In A Perfect World… in the process.
While Interscope/Geffen/A&M Records prepared to press the final album cut in Los Angeles, Hilson found herself in New York – working with Kanye West on a viral commercial to promote the LP. “Miss Keri Baby” wanted ‘Ye on the album, but he didn’t make the version sent to L.A. Then West asked Hilson how the album was coming.
”I’m completely tongue-in-cheek at this point,” admits Hilson. “I said, ‘Well, the only thing missing on this album is you.’”
Hilson didn’t expect the spur-of-the-moment honesty, nor did she expect West’s response.
“He said, ‘Is there anything I can do tonight?’” Hilson recalled. “I was like, ‘Oh, my, God. Let’s book the studio right now before he changes his mind!’”
With Kanye and herself now accounted for, Hilson needed the final piece of the puzzle: Ne-Yo.
“He was about to go film a movie in Prague. We called him, he wanted to do it but he was leaving the country the next day. He had literally an hour break in his schedule.”
Thankfully for Hilson, the R&B crooner can work quick, and on the spot. Keri’s manager flew to Miami, waited with a car service in tow at the studio as Ne-Yo wrote and recorded his verse, and jetted back to L.A. with the audio files on a hard drive.
”We had to push (the release date) back, and it cost us a bit,” revealed Hilson. “But it was worth it, and thank God the album is doing so well that (Interscope) don’t care anymore.”
It’s quite a change in pace for Hilson, prior to this LP worked mostly as a songwriter and back-up vocalist, penning tracks for the likes of Ludacris and Britney Spears – notably Spears’ “Gimme More” and “Break The Ice” off of Breakout.
“I love to see the 180 (degree) turn because when we worked, it was a tumultuous time in her life,” Hilson said. “She was pregnant with her second child, seven months pregnant mind you, so focused, in a booth. It just showed me how dedicated she was to her craft.”
Keri relates – the singer/songwriter is so married to music that she just invites herself on tracks – namely Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em’s “Turn My Swag On.” There were murmurs that Hilson’s impromptu cameo would be combined with Lil’ Wayne’s official remix for a “megamix” of sorts, but she believes that may not be in the cards.
“It was supposed to be the three of us, and we haven’t shot the video yet, so I guess it’s not going to happen,” Hilson noted, with a bit of disappointment in her tone.
But, it’s almost never to late in this business for anything to happen – and if anyone knows that, it’s Keri herself.