Alicia Keys is hoping her new album will help shed some light on the world, and she’s assembled just the right team for the job.
The record, she told Billboard ahead of the iHeartRadio Music Festival, was “done by what we call ourselves ‘Illuminaries’. It’s actually the four of us: myself, Swizz (Beatz), Mark Batson and Harold Lilly. Crazy outrageous music, outrageous lyrics. Just really, for me, the best music I’ve ever done yet. I love what’s happening, what’s coming, I feel really humbled and blessed by the experience. It’s a lot deeper and more, like, (there’s) more clarity to it and I just can’t wait. When you hear it, you tell me.”
It’s unclear when we’ll all get a chance to plug into it. The follow-up to Keys’ 2012 hit Girl on Fire has no release date as yet, though it does have a lead single, “We Are Here.”
Keys unleashed the power ballad earlier this month along with a long message which drills deep into its meaning. She went into more detail in a conversation for Billboard.
“‘We Are Here’ is just really about how we can all be together,” she explains. “We’re going through witnessing what’s happening in the world and feeling overwhelmed or feeling inspired to do something about it or whatever the case. And so this song really talks about all that and somehow it allows us to have this dialog about why are you here. I think that’s been really powerful. People have been responding to it. I’m looking forward to continuing to spread that dialog, that conversation.”
That conversation will continue on Keys’ as-yet untitled new album, on which Pharrell lends his considerable production talents. Keys recently told AP the set was “actually pretty much done already and so you’ll be hearing some of it soon.”
This year is shaping as a big one for Keys. The R&B singer and her husband, producer-rapper Swizz Beatz, are expecting their second child this December. Keys showed off her baby bump when she gave a surprise performance of “We Are Here” on the first night of the fourth annual iHeartRadio fest in Las Vegas.