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The Way It Is

Keyshia Cole

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Album Review

An advantage Keyshia Cole has over a lot of her young contemporaries is experience. As a foster child growing up in Oakland, she went through a lot of downs, and from the sounds of The Way It Is, her first album, she's had her share of complex relationships. Cole had a hand in the writing of just about every track, and she has a number of major players — Kanye West, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Ron Fair (Christina Aguilera, Mya), E-Poppi (Missy Elliott, Destiny's Child) — in her corner. With only a couple exceptions, The Way It Is is about the ugly parts of a romantic relationship, so there's little room left for upbeat material. From the opener, "(I Just Want It) To Be Over," the album seems to be set up like a linear narrative about a crumbling relationship, but it doesn't quite play out that way, with the scenes shuffled out of order. ("Love," one of the positive songs, comes after the song where the punk gets dumped and before the song where he's called out for changing.) None of it's all that profound, but Cole sells it all extremely well, especially on "I Should Have Cheated," where she tires of an accusing and hypocritical lover ("I should go have my fun and do all the things you say I do"). Cole's voice is sweet and ringing, like a wiser version of Lil' Mo who has had to weather a tremendous amount of drama. She could be around for a while. ("Never," her hit song from the Barbershop 2 soundtrack, is included.)

Biography

Born: 15 October 1981 in Oakland, CA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s, '10s

One of the more genuine urban songstresses to emerge in the 2000s, Keyshia Cole worked her way up the industry ladder diligently yet quickly, making her major-label debut in 2004 at age 21. Born on the other side of the California Bay — the often tough and troubled streets of Oakland — Cole aspired from an early age to make music her life, so much so that she started working the angles while still a preteen. For instance, she did some recording with fellow Bay Area resident MC Hammer...
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The Way It Is, Keyshia Cole
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