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Keri Lynn Hilson (born on December 5, 1982) is an American R&B recording artist and songwriter. Born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, Hilson made herself a name as a songwriter, penning tracks for several artists in the mid-2000s as part of the five-person production/songwriting team known as The Clutch. In 2006, she signed a recording contract with Timbaland’s label, Mosley Music.
Hilson released her debut studio album, In a Perfect World… in March 2009, which peaked within the top five of the Billboard 200 albums chart and featured the hit singles “Knock You Down” and “Turnin Me On”. The album reached number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and was eventually certified gold. Hilson earned two Grammy Award nominations for the album including Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Knock You Down”, which features Kanye West and Ne-Yo. A reissue of the album, included previously unreleased songs such as “I Like”. The song became Hilson’s first number one hit in Germany and certified platinum there. As a prominent guest vocalist in both the contemporary R&B and hip hop genres, Hilson has been featured on over a dozen singles by other artists, including the number-one hit single “The Way I Are” with Timbaland.
After several pushbacks, Hilson’s debut album In a Perfect World… was released in March 2009. According to the singer, the title of the album is her way of “saying nothing in the world is perfect and no person in it is, either. None of us are exempt from certain hardships and heartbreaks and we all have something about our lives that we’d change if only we could – be it body image, financial status, love life… It was really important for me to write songs that women can relate to from real situations. I didn’t want to do an album that painted myself as perfect because no matter how things look, no one is. I called it that with the ellipses – dot dot dot – because it’s an incomplete statement. I wanted to talk about how nobody’s exempted from the realities of life and all those things.” It was executively produced by Timbaland and Polow da Don. In a Perfect World… debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 and at number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart with first week sales of approximately 94,000 copies, and earned generally favorable reviews from music critics who noted it a “seductive debut CD full of slick, radio-friendly cuts.” and was eventaully certified gold by the RIAA.
“Energy” was released as the album’s lead single on May 20, 2008. It reached a peak of number seventy-eight on the US Billboard Hot 100, number twenty-one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and achieved minor success in the UK. The song became a success in New Zealand, where it reached a peak of number two and gained a gold accreditation there. In October 2008 Hilson collaborated with fellow singer Chris Brown on a song titled “Superhuman”, which reached the top twenty in Ireland and New Zealand. “Return the Favor” which features Timbaland was released as the album’s second single. It peaked within the top twenty in the UK, Ireland, and Belgium. “Turnin Me On” which featured Lil Wayne became Hilson’s first top twenty hit as a solo artist on the Billboard Hot 100, where it reached number fifteen on the chart. The song reached number two on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, becoming Hilson’s first top five hit on the chart.
“Knock You Down”, a collaboration with Kanye West and Ne-Yo, was released as the album’s fourth single. The song has proven to be Hilson’s most successful worldwide single to date. It peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 for three non-consecutive weeks and topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It additionally appeared the in top ten of five other countries and certified platinum in New Zealand and gold in Australia. The song received a nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 52nd Grammy Awards. A reissue of the album, included previously unreleased songs such as “I Like”. The song was used for the German film Zweiohrküken and became Hilson’s first number one hit in Germany which certified platinum there. Meanwhile Hilson continued appearing on single releases by several artists throughout 2009 including Plies’ single “Medicine”, Fabolous’ “Everything, Everyday, Everywhere,” Nas’ “Hero” and Sean Paul’s “Hold My Hand”.
In January 2010 Hilson guest featured on Akon’s charity single “Oh Africa”. She was also part of the extended A-list of musical artists during the recording session of “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”. Hilson also made guest features on other singles including “Million Dollar Girl” by Trina and T.I’s “Got Your Back”. In April 2010 it was revealed she was the new face of Avon, replacing singer Jennifer Hudson.
Her second studio album No Boys Allowed was released on December 21, 2010. Hilson explained that, “No Boys Allowed is a deeply personal project designed to bring women to their feet. The provocative title, is not what you may think. It’s not about excluding men. It’s more about women understanding that there comes a time in your life when you want a man. A real man. A grown up. Not a boy. And that’s not a bad thing. I write from a female perspective, but I’m also telling men what women are really thinking and feeling about them.” The album debuted at number 11 on the Billboard 200 with 102,000 copies sold. Though it sold 8,000 copies more than her debut album, In a Perfect World…, it failed to match that album’s debut chart position of number four.
“Breaking Point”, produced by Timbaland was released as the album’s lead single in the United States on September 7, 2010. It reached a peak of number forty-four on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. “Pretty Girl Rock” was released as the second single on October 12, 2010. It has reached a current peak of number ten on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and peaked at number thirty-one on the US Billboard Hot 100. The music video for the song has received critical acclaim and praise for its homage to musical icons of the past such as Josephine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge,The Andrew Sisters, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson and TLC. Hilson appears as each singer in a well-known scene from the era depicted.