Kelis recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Hollywood Unlocked during which she got candid about her falling “quickly” for Nas, their marriage, and how their youth, artistry, and alcohol, physical, and mental abuse led to their tragic downfall. Read excerpts below.

ON THE COUPLE’S BEGINNINGS: We fell in love. We really did. We fell quickly. And if we’re similar in any way, it’s that we’re both like ‘shut out the world.’ We’re both really good at that. We, like, hibernated and it was just him and I for a long time. And that was better. I think it’s when people and opinions and everything else that came…it wasn’t good ever, but it definitely progressively got worse. We had really intense highs. And really intense lows. It was never normal.

ON THE ‘HIGHS’: An intense high would be like money was rolling in…we were young, too. I was 22 when I met him. I was a baby. So we were drinking too much, smoking too much, we were too much, we were spending too much, we were balling out of control. It was all just too much. We lived hard, so because of that, when that comes down, it goes really low. Like as low as possible. So it’s hard because there’s no balance.

ON THEIR YOUTH AND NAIVETE: There’s no normalcy. And I think, to our credit, Nas got famous really young and I signed my first deal at 17. We were really young. There was so many things against us, beyond all the other personal stuff and all the other stuff that what went wrong with us, if you look at it on paper, it was hard anyway. And then we were in the public eye. And then, the kind of artists that we were. He was no pop star, I was no pop star. We were artists. It was tumultuous and toxic so often because it was this constant [tension] and I didn’t know that was gonna happen. I was really naive. I was madly in love. So I took a lot that I shouldn’t have taken and that I generally, just on my character, was not my character at all. I think it was all awkward.

ON NAS’ INFIDELITY: [The infidelity] was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but that wasn’t IT. I didn’t file for divorce because he cheated. He’d been cheating for two years and I knew that. It was because on top of all the other stuff, then you’re gonna cheat? Okay, this is too much. And it was really toxic. And I was pregnant, so at seven months pregnant, I was terrified. I was like, I cannot bring a person into this. This is fricking mess. And I can’t control this. I gotta get out. I filed for divorce in April and Knight was born in July.

ON THE ‘LOWS’: We had a lot. Honestly, if I were to really tell the stories, I couldn’t write them. It was really that crazy. It was dark. It was really dark. There was a lot of drinking. There was a lot of mental and physical abuse. I probably would have stayed longer had I not been pregnant [with Knight] because I really did love him and because we were married. We weren’t dating, we were married. Like, this was my person. I did [feel he was my soulmate] at the time. I believe in that now, but I don’t know that that means it’s right because it shouldn’t hurt like that. We would fight. I never just sat there, but we would definitely fight.

ON THE ABUSE AND NAS’ DRINKING: I have never painted myself as a saint. Did he hit me? Mm-hmm. Did I hit him back? Mm-hmm. It was because he would black out. He would drink too much. He drank way too much. He will never admit it. But he drank too much. And there are times where we would party and I would drink with him, but then he would keep drinking. And so a lot of the stuff, he may not remember. Literally, we would have the worst night ever, ever, and we would wake up the next day, and it’s like it never happened.

ON SPEAKING OUT: I remember so clearly when the pictures came out, with that whole thing that happened with [Rihanna] and Chris Brown, and the only way I can describe it was like double-dutch: I felt like, do I jump in? Do I say it? Because I had bruises all over my body at that time. Like, that day. I remember being in Atlanta, sitting in the kitchen, and I was like, ‘Do I?’ And I wasn’t ready to walk. I just wasn’t. And so I didn’t say it. And honestly, because I’m not weak, and I’m really private, I don’t like people in my business, I felt like, this is my partner, I chose this, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna make it work. I stayed for years after that. And just, you keep it moving. And like I said, I’m not frail, I’m not scared, I’m not weak.

Kelis says she and Nas got married around 2002-2003, but the couple’s wedding ceremony was held in January 2005. She filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences in April 2009. The divorce was finalized in May 2010.