Complex Magazine enlists the beautiful Alicia Keys to cover their December/January dual issue. Check out more of the shoot and excerpts from the cover story below!

Alicia Keys speaks candidly to Rob Kenner about the hiatus she took from music to raise her family, about being in the public eye for most of her life, and the admiration she had for Frank Ocean. Ocean, who co-wrote the song “One Thing” on her new album, impressed Keys with his bravery in the much-talked about open letter he wrote on Tumblr.

Check out excerpts from the interview below along with her magazine cover shoot:

On Frank Ocean :

During the drive she talks about music in a soft voice. Alicia’s been listening to Frank Ocean lately. She appreciates his songwriting—he cowrote “One Thing” on her new album—and admires the courage of the open letter he wrote about his sexuality. “That was super brave and I’m so glad that he wrote it,” she says. “He is the voice for so many people. We’re all boxed in to these stupid things that we’re taught is the way we’re supposed to be and it’s so ridiculous. There are so many people that need a champion to assure them that no matter who you are, you are a beautiful person. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re talented or intelligent. Thank God that we have come to this place where we can actually know and be more open to the fact that people come in all different ways. And that’s great because it’s a very boring world otherwise.”

On Motherhood and Changing:

Because I started so young, so much of my life has been like catching up to myself—or trying to run underneath myself so I’m not falling. I finally stepped back and was able to look at it all and say ‘Wow.’ No complaints. I’m glad to be where I am and have this life. But it could be different. I don’t want to have the type of life where I’m not living or I’m always working or always fitting into whatever perfect box. I don’t want that type of hectic life. I don’t want people in my life that encourage that in any way. I’m not my old self anymore.

“Becoming my new self, some people didn’t understand me anymore. Some people who I knew for years—we couldn’t be on the same page anymore. That’s OK because that’s part of growing, too. The hardest thing is to trust yourself, to know that what you’re feeling is valid. A lot of times we dismiss our feelings. I realized that I can trust myself and say, ‘No, I’m not comfortable with that.’ That was the toughest part. When I finally had the bravery to do that, that’s when I started to feel on fire.”

So why now? “Motherhood was a big part of me breaking free. Before I gave birth to Egypt, there was a certain energy of wanting to fix things. Women want to clean stuff up before the baby comes. I refused to be in any circumstance that would give negative energy to this. That was what pushed me over the edge. It was becoming a woman. I was a girl, and now I’m a woman.”

On the meaning behind “Unthinkable”:

Despite the gossip and speculation, Alicia is reluctant to confirm what “Unthinkable” is about. “With songs there’s a part that you can never fully interpret,” she hedges. “Someone could never tell what I meant and I could never interpret what it may mean to someone else.” Still she admits, “everything I write is part of my life. I couldn’t write it if I didn’t relate to it.”

As she continues to speak about “Unthinkable” she finally opens up about its meaning. “Lately I’ve been wanting to explain that song. That song and that moment is about taking chances. It’s about following yourself. We hold back so much. We wait or we don’t do anything just because of all the ways we explain it to ourselves in our head. That’s a big theme for me on many levels—especially during that time. Like I said, I’ve been going through this whole process of finding my own womanhood.”

She says now that on her last album she only had an element of freedom. But that’s not enough anymore. “That was what that song was about,” she admits. “That’s the thing about love—you gotta take a chance.”

source: Complex Magazine