Alicia Keys ''always knew'' she was talented.

The 'Empire State of Mind' singer believes the key to being successful is to be ''strong, crazy and belligerent'', and has always believed in herself.

She said: ''You have to be strong and a little crazy and belligerent.

''I always knew I was good and what I was doing was going to be good.''

But the 35-year-old star admits she has relaxed a little bit and enjoys her career more now that she has stopped taking things so seriously.

She said: ''I used to be very much head down and eyes only on getting ahead and moving forward, but I've now realised you can actually achieve more when you lighten up and relax and stop taking everything so seriously.

''I am pleased I had that discipline and you have to be very self-motivated.

''But now I know you need a little magic and it is that mix of intention, action and magic that makes [working] fun.''

But the 'Girl on Fire' hitmaker always promises herself she will be ''great'' at whatever she does.

She said: ''I always ask myself, 'Do you want to be good or do you want to be great?' Then I tell myself I am going to allow myself to be great. It is very simple, once you say it, you have no option but to do it.''

Alicia admits she can be introspective, but thinks that is good for her work.

She told Britain's ELLE magazine: ''I am definitely more introspective. I am a swallower, not a reactor.

''My mum was a reactor, which is why I am definitely not one. I take things in, it churns and burns into all these emotions and then later I figure out how to verbalise it. OFten, it's through a song.''