Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation” – off her third album, Here I Am – has ruled the R&B/Hip-Hop charts all summer, and is now making its way up the Billboard Hot 100. There’s also a tour with Chris Brown in the works. Before celebrating her album release with fellow Destiny’s Child cohorts Beyoncé and Michelle Williams in New York on Tuesday, she discussed working with DJ extraordinaire David Guetta, her new stint judging The X Factor and getting name-checked in a Kanye song.
This album is such a mix of your urban and dance sensibilities. How much of each did you want to portray?
I love to do both, and I didn’t want to be put in a box on this record. People were telling me “Oh, you should do a dance album” or “You should do an urban album.” I was like no! Fuck all y’all! I want to do it all! I think this album shows all sides of me, and I learned a lot about myself while working on it. I got to tap into my sensual side with Rico Love while doing “Motivation” and show my sassy, aggressive side too.
Your collaborations with David Guetta [including hit dance tracks “When Love Takes Over“ and “Commander“] have been very successful for both of you. How did you hook up with him?
I met him as a fan! We were both performing at the same party, and I just went up to him and was like “We have to do something together!” David is the best. He’s just so easy to fall in love with, and he is so passionate about music. We’ve worked together for two years now, and the musical chemistry is there. He’s a brilliant, brilliant artist. When he played me the track for “When Love Takes Over” the first time, it made me cry. Really! It was just a beautiful track – it didn’t even have words yet but I knew I wanted to do it. When music has that kind of power, I want to be involved.
Will we have to wait four more years for another album?
Hell no! I want to get back in the studio right now! What I like to do is just record, record, record, and then go back and see what there is. There always seems to be an old track that I just fall in love with again.
You’re one of the new judges on Britain’s The X Factor. How is that going?
Whew! It’s awesome! There are a lot of clowns who come out where you think “Why did you just sing that?” But then you catch people who are remarkable. There are some 16-year-olds with amazing talent, several young ladies and young men who are incredible. It’s very exciting!
What did you think about getting name-dropped in Kanye’s hit “Power“ last year? Did you know he was going to mention you?
I didn’t even know I was in it! I mean, when I first heard the song I listened to it three times and loved it, but I didn’t notice my name! Then a friend called and asked what I thought of the song and I was like “It’s a dope record!” And she was like, “Fool! He said your name!” So I went back and listened again and I bugged out! I can’t believe I missed it the first times! I mean, I’m a fan and Kanye is amazing, but it’s just so funny: [Singing] “With some light-skinned girls and some Kelly Rowlands!” I love it!