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Armed with a powerful voice and a piano, Alicia Keys completely owned the year 2001. At just 21-years-old, her debut album, songs in A minor, would go on to sell more than 12 million copies worldwide and attract five Grammy Awards. The appearance of the seemingly overnight superstar was subjected to arguably even more attention.

Despite possessing looks that could kill with a blink and a smile, Keys was never seen without being covered from arm to leg and her braided and beaded hair earned her the rumor of being a lesbian. (The fact she was rarely seen photographed with her longtime producer and suspected boyfriend Kerry “Krucial” Brothers didn’t help matters any, either.)

Today, at the age of 34, Keys is happily married to Swizz Beatz and mother of two boys. In a new blog post titled “A Revelation” on her website, the multi-platinum superstar decided to open as to why she carried herself the way she did in the early stages of her career.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve hidden myself. It might have started in school when I realized that I caught on to things a little quicker, and teachers started to show slight favor to me, or use me as an example. I remember feeling like my friends would make fun of me or look at me as if I was different from them and so… I started hiding. Not intentionally, I didn’t mean to, but I did. Little pieces at a time.

I definitely started hiding when I got old enough to walk down my NY streets alone. I started to notice a drastic difference in how men would relate to me if I had on jeans, or if I had on a skirt, or if my hair was done pretty. I could tell the difference, I could feel the animal instinct in them and it scared me. I didn’t want to be talked to in that way, looked at in that way, whistled after, followed. And so I started hiding. I chose the baggy jeans and timbs, I chose the ponytail and hat, I chose no makeup, no bright color lipstick or pretty dresses. I chose to hide. Pieces at a time. Less trouble that way.

And the moment she gave “them” an inch, she felt herself being judged.

I remember one interview I gave had strong social thoughts from a book I just read. The writer misunderstood me and wrote something that I didn’t say. I felt judged by those reading it. Out came the shell again and me under it. Hiding, piece by piece. Little by little. More and more.

I became comfortable hiding, my intelligence, my physical appearance, my truths, my thoughts, myself.

To this day, every time I get out of the shower to get dressed, I swear the first thought that comes into my head is, what can I wear that won’t cause too much attention when I go pick up Egy, or head to the store, or go shopping, or visit a friend etc.

Of course, Alicia Keys has a gift for expressing her feeling through song and not to leave her fans hanging, she has released a dope new record titled “28,000 Days,” which basically indicates a new album is dropping this year.

Listen below.

Photo: Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/