No Boys Allowed is the second studio album by American recording artist Keri Hilson, released on December 17, 2010 through Mosley Music and Zone 4 Records. On the album, Hilson is reunited with Timbaland and Polow da Don, who executively produced the album, as they did with her debut release. She also worked with several other producers and songwriters, including Ne-Yo, John Legend, StarGate, Bei Maejor and Boi-1da, among others. Meanwhile, Chris Brown, Rick Ross, J. Cole, Nelly, Kanye West and Timbaland all have featured guest vocals. Musically, No Boys Allowed is an R&B album, which incorporates pop, soul, electro and dancehall into the songs. The album received mixed reviews from most music critics, and peaked at number eleven on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling 102,000 copies in its first week. Although 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. No Boys Allowed also debuted on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart at number seven, and at number ten on the UK R&B Albums Chart. The album's lead single, "Breaking Point" was released in the United States on September 7, 2010 and peaked at number forty-four on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The second single, "Pretty Girl Rock", was released on October 12, 2010, and peaked within the top ten on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the top fifteen in New Zealand. Following her acoustic performance of "Knock You Down" at Billboard headquarters in January 2010, Hilson told Mariel Concepcion of Billboard magazine, that she plans to start recording her second album soon and hopes to work with Robin Thicke, Lauryn Hill and Ryan Leslie. When asked how the album was coming along in June 2010, Hilson made the following comments to Rap-Up TV: "I’ve been in the studio with a lot of special people, a lot of big names, but a lot of talented people as well ... It's all about new inspiration that I have and just getting all the ideas that I’ve been collecting out, so it's time." She also confirmed reports that she's been working with Dr. Dre. In July 2010, Hilson revealed in an interview, that she has been working with Polow da Don, Tricky Stewart and Danja, who she had previously collaborated with for In a Perfect World... (2009). She also said, that the album would be released when the time is right. "We didn't want to rush this one ... I wanted it to be as organic and as emotional as the first one." During this time, Lil Kim told HollywoodTV, that she's been in the studio working on a collaboration with Hilson, on a song titled, "Buyou", and revealed Polow da Don produced the track. In an interview with The Boom Box, Hilson spoke of the song saying: "I wanted to talk about how it's not cool to mooch off your woman. It's not manly, it's very boy-like. I don't want to take care of my man. I do buy my own things. You are doing nothing for me, you are taking from me and that's not a good situation. Buy you a phone, buy you a car. It's like saying, come correct or don't come at all." However, "Buyou" with Lil Kim did not make the final track listing, and was replaced with a different version of the song featuring J. Cole. In an interview, Hilson explained, "I happened to love it, [but] having all boy features kinda took precedent over that whole thing happening. However, the door is still open for a remix. In a Perfect World..., it would be [Lil'] Kim and Nicki Minaj on the same track." In August 2010, Hilson revealed in an interview with Global Grind that she did not going on any vacations for the Summer, and instead she moved to Los Angeles to work on the album with Timbaland and Polow da Don. A statement by Polow was released on Hilson's website, saying "Keri's intense focus on No Boys Allowed has been inspiring to both Timbaland and I, in and out of the studio. This will definitely be one of the best albums of 2010/2011." In November 2010, John Legend revealed in an interview with Rap-Up, that he wrote a song called, "All the Boys" for the album, and described the song as a "reminiscent of past love".
No Boys Allowed Album Review
In an interview with MTV News on March 24, 2010, Hilson revealed that her trip to Africa had heavily influenced the album's sound. She told the interviewer "Everywhere I travel, I get music from that region of the world. I've been to Nigeria, I've been to South Africa, three cites in Africa [in all]. I gather music from these regions, and African music is very drum-heavy. It was very inspiring. I'm definitely going to be using some of that inspiration." When Hilson was interviewed by Global Grind in August 2010, she explained that she was excited about the album's release, because it would be inspirational to all women, stating:
"I really wanted to do an album to tell women to be confident, no matter what their circumstances. You have to push through, don't yield at the first sign of adversity. The theme of this event is celebrating the journey and not the success. My personal journey was over 12 years long. I had to sit back and be a songwriter when my first goal was to be an artist. I know a lot of women who just have given up, so I want them to have the same tenacity and drive that men have. I really went there on this album."
When asked, by Allison Walker from Central Florida News 13, who was the inspiration behind the songs' lyrics?, Hilson replied "Many, many boys. Many, many, many boys. Even the boys in your life inspired this. I was in an imaginary clubhouse. A lot of times when I was sitting down to write, and I was in an imaginary clubhouse, you were there, Allison. My best friends. Your best friends. Our sisters, our mothers we were all sounding off and yelling at the top of our lungs everything we wish men knew about us. And, uh, so that's really what motivated a lot of the records." Although the album is called No Boys Allowed, Hilson told Lisa Binkert of Billboard magazine that "I have all male features on the album, but they're all men. Not boys ... I wanted to represent the male point of view. I'm not saying it's always good, but I want you to be honest; the same way that I'm honest about female's perspective. I wanted men to come and sound off." Hilson has stated in an interview with Perez Hilton that the album's title actually means, No Bullshit Allowed. She released a statement on her website about the title saying, "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." The deluxe edition of No Boys Allowed had a slightly different album cover. The image, which is the same as the standard edition cover, appears in color against a pink tinged background. Primarily an R&B album, No Boys Allowed also contains elements of pop, soul, electro and dancehall. Critics have noted the song, "Bahm Bahm (Do It Once Again)", as a reggae, dancehall track which has drawn comparisons to Rihanna. Other comparisons to Rihanna include "Lose Control/Let Me Down" to "What's My Name?", "Lie to Me" to "Love the Way You Lie" and the acoustic ballad "Hustler" to "California King Bed". "Breaking Point", which is the first single from No Boys Allowed, has lyrics that are about moving on from relationships that are not working and expecting men to step up to the plate and show women more respect and love. The song's style and sound have been compared to other artists such as Mary J. Blige and Prince. Mariel Concepcion of Billboard noted "Breaking Point" as a "reminiscent of Melanie Fiona's "Give It to Me Right" and Beyoncé's "Why Don't You Love Me". "Pretty Girl Rock" is a mid-tempo R&B song, which incorporates an interpolation of "Just the Two of Us" by Grover Washington, Jr. When asked about the concept of the song, Hilson stated "I want everybody to feel like they can do the pretty girl rock [dance] ... It's like the hair brush in the mirror, don’t hate me cause I’m beautiful, cause you are. Everybody is beautiful." "The Way You Love Me" is an upbeat song which generates influences of electro, R&B, and dance-pop. The song has been criticized for its explict lyrics, that features the hook "Fuck me, fuck me", and the line "I got the kinda pussy that'll keep you out the streets". According to Matthew Horton of BBC Online, Hilson's smooth vocals on "Beautiful Mistake", takes you back to Michael Jackson's Thriller album. On the other hand, "Gimme What I Want" has been described as an "electro anthem", and according to Andy Kellman of Allmusic, the song is part two to both "Turnin Me On" and "Get Your Money Up". The album also includes the ballads "All the Boys", "Toy Soldier" and "One Night Stand" with Chris Brown, which has been decribed as a "very '90s-sounding R&B ballad."
September 2010, Rap-Up magazine confirmed that No Boys Allowed would be released on November 30, 2010. However, the album's release date was re-scheduled to December 21, 2010. No Boys Allowed was released in two separate editions; the standard and the deluxe, with both editions' digital releases containing the album's CD booklet. The deluxe edition also includes four bonus tracks, "Hustler", "Lie to Me", "Won't Be Long" and "Fearless", with the latter released only on iTunes. The album's promotion began in November 2010 when Hilson appeared on the front cover of Vibe magazine. On November 7, 2010, "The Way You Love Me" premiered online. A Laurie Ann Gibson-directed mini-movie for the song was shot in Los Angeles during October and featured cameo appearances from JoJo, Faith Evans, Dawn Richard, Columbus Short and Polow Da Don. The mini-movie premiered on WorldStarHipHop.com on November 28, 2010, and was released to iTunes Stores on December 7, 2010. The video was criticized because of the song's explicit lyrics ("I got the kinda pussy that'll keep you out the streets"), and the limited amount of clothing Hilson had wore in the video. Critics accused the singer of swerving into a racy lane just for page views and album sales for No Boys Allowed. In an interview with Perez Hilton, Hilson defended the clip and said, "If you put it in context with my album, my album is called No Boys Allowed but really it means no bullshit allowed. In this album, I was screaming in a room — just like I was screaming in the song — I was screaming in a room with all my girlfriends, yelling all the shit we really say." A clean version of the song can be found on No Boys Allowed as track three. Two other songs were also released online. The Lil Kim-assisted "Buyou" premiered on November 15, 2010. and "Toy Soldier" premiered on the Billboard website on December 13, 2010. On November 22, 2010, Hilson performed "Pretty Girl Rock" on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, followed by a performance of the song at the 84th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 25, 2010. She also performed the song at the VH1 Divas Salute the Troops concert on December 5, 2010, and on the Lopez Tonight show on December 7, 2010. The next day, Hilson appeared on the Chelsea Lately show to promote the album. She also appeared on The Today Show on December 14, 2010, and performed "Pretty Girl Rock". The album cover was unveiled on November 10, 2010. The official track listing was released on Amazon.com on December 6, 2010, along with snippets of the album's songs. Prior to this, photo shoots for the album were released online on December 11, 2010. On December 15, 2010, Hilson performed several of the album's songs at a listening party in her hometown of Atlanta, during the Hot 107.9 FM Christmas party. "Breaking Point" was released as the lead single in the United States on September 7, 2010. The song was produced by Timbaland and JRoc, and talks about moving on from relationships that are not working and expecting men to step up to the plate and show women more respect and love. Critics gave the song mixed to positive reviews. While Billboard magazine's Mariel Concepcion described the song as an "reminiscent of Melanie Fiona's "Give It to Me Right" and Beyoncé's "Why Don't You Love Me", Rap-Up noted the song as "vintage-sounding". It was one of Hilson's least successful singles in the United States, only reaching number forty-four on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. "Pretty Girl Rock" premiered at the Beats By Dr. Dre concert in New York on September 29, 2010 and released as the album's second single on October 12, 2010. The song was sent to rhythmic radio in the United States on October 19, 2010, and mainstream radio on October 26, 2010. It has reached a current peak of number six on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and peaked at number thirty-one on the Billboard Hot 100. "Pretty Girl Rock" became Hilson's fifth top-fifteen R&B/Hip-Hop Songs hit. On December 27, 2010, the song entered the New Zealand Singles Chart at number twelve, and has since peaked at number eleven. On January 22, 2011, it debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number fifty-three and at number seventeen on the UK R&B Chart. In February 2011, Hilson told Rap-Up magazine that she was considering going with another urban song for her third single. She noted that if "we go with that plan", the Chris Brown-assisted "One Night Stand" would be the album's third single, while "All the Boys" and "Beautiful Mistake" were also mentioned as potential future singles.