In an intense and emotional interview on April 26 with Hollywood Unlocked, Kelis discussed her relationship with Nas, and reflected on the alleged abuse that finally caused her to file for divorce. This interview marks the first time that the singer has discussed her side of the story — Nas has made several comments about their marriage throughout the years — and many of the details she claims may be difficult to hear. Bustle has reached out to Nas' rep and lawyer for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.
According to Kelis, her mother was concerned about her relationship with Nas from the get-go. "[She] saw that we were going to crash and burn," the 38-year-old said. Both she and Nas were young stars with successful careers when they first started dating. "We had really intense highs, and really intense lows," she admitted. "It was never normal."
The couple got married in 2005, according to Spin, and in April 2009, Kelis — who was seven months pregnant with the couple's son, Knight, at the time — filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences." After staying silent on the details of their failed marriage for more than nine years, however, Kelis is now alleging that repeated abuse — both mental and physical — eventually caused her to walk away.
(In the video below, Kelis begins talking about her marriage around the 14:50 mark.)
Kelis alleged that her rapper ex-husband had been cheating on her for years before they got divorced (Nas reportedly admitted to cheating on an episode of VH1's Behind the Music, according to Rolling Out) — and, while she says she was well-aware of his infidelity at the time, they'd long-had other issues. "I didn’t file for divorce because he cheated … it was, because on top of all the other stuff, then you’re going to cheat? OK, this is too much … it was really toxic," she said.
The "other stuff" Kelis was referring to, according to the Hollywood Unlocked interview, was allegedly years of abuse. Kelis got emotional when discussing the abuse from Chris Brown against then-girlfriend Rihanna, and said, “I remember so clearly when the [Rihanna] pictures came out … I remember thinking, do I jump in, do I say it? ... 'Cause I had bruises all over my body at that time,” the singer said. “I wasn’t ready to walk," she continued. "I just wasn’t."
A few months later, however, she'd changed her mind. "I probably would have stayed longer had I not been pregnant, because I really did love him and because we were married," she said. "We weren’t dating, we were married. Like, this was my person.”
In terms of her own role within their turbulent marriage, Kelis said, "I’ve never painted myself as a saint. Did he hit me? Mhmm. Did I hit him back? Mhmm.” When further pressed on the issue, she said, "Look, I’m 5’10”, I don’t back down, I’m extremely confrontational. So, I take my part in it."
Kelis continued, "I can fight, I know how to fight, I’m not afraid to throw a punch. But, I wouldn’t have started it. I’ll participate in ending it, but I wouldn’t have started it.” The singer claimed that most of their physical fights were fueled by excessive amounts of alcohol, but that they'd often "wake up the next day and it was like it never happened."
“We were drinking too much, we were smoking too much, we were too much … we lived hard," Kelis admitted. "When that comes down, it goes really low.” Despite the lows, though, the singer is now able to reflect back on why it was so difficult for her to eventually leave her allegedly abusive husband. "I was really naive, I was madly in love, so I took a lot that I shouldn’t have taken," she said.
In the years since their very public 2009 divorce, Kelis has moved on with her life. In 2014, according to Us Weekly, she married real estate agent Mike Mora, with whom she shares a two-year-old son, Sheperd. “I’m living my life. I’m cooking. I’m raising my kids and I’m very private," the singer told Hollywood Unlocked.
Nas has yet to publicly comment on his ex-wife's allegations of abuse.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.