Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Music issue 09/04/2008

Keri Hilson steps out of the shadows with her first album.

The question “Who’s that girl?” has been directed at Keri Hilson time and again. She played Usher’s sultry object of affection in his “Love in This Club” video, appeared on-screen like an apparition during Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” tour, and has lent her buttery vocals to Nas’ “Hero” and Timbaland’s “Scream.” With the masses only getting measured doses of the 25-year-old Atlanta native, it’s no wonder they’re asking about her. Now, on the heels of the release of her debut solo album, “In a Perfect World,” the people are about to get some answers.

This story first appeared in the September 4, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

By age 18, the tenacious teen had cultivated her talent for songwriting into the beginnings of a successful career behind the scenes. Working with artists like Ciara, Britney Spears and Chris Brown, Hilson had writing credits on charttopping hits both on her own and with The Clutch, an Atlanta-based songwriting collective. But Hilson wanted to perform, and got her wish when a fortuitous meeting with producer Polow da Don resulted in a three-way partnership with super producer Timbaland.

“In a Perfect World” is laden with club-ready beats, fluttering vocals and confessional lyrics. “I don’t try to camouflage and make myself seem perfect,” Hilson says. “I call my album ‘In a Perfect World’ because everyone has something about their world that they would change if they could. No one is perfect.”

When it comes to her style sense, Hilton is a tomboy at heart. “I love when comfort meets fashion,” she says. “To be at maximum performance for me means also being comfortable whether onstage or the red carpet. It means just being myself. My whole style mantra is: It’s not what you’re wearing, it’s how you wear it.”

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