Keyshia Cole Returns to Her Musical Roots...Glory!

Keyshia Cole.

As soon as I heard the first couple of lines from Keyshia Cole’s latest single, “Enough of No Love,” I aggressively bopped my head and texted a friend, “Thank God she sounds pissed off again.”

I’m elated to know that she is happy in her personal life, but I don’t go to her for that the same way I don’t roll up to the Popeye’s drive-thru asking for a dragon roll with extra wasabi. Wrong or not, when I turn to Keyshia Cole, I expect to become upset at the baby daddy and/or trifling boyfriend I don’t have. I’m not alone, though, and thankfully, Keysh took the constructive criticism and acted accordingly.

A few weeks ago a very candid Keyshia Cole acknowledged to the hosts of Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club” that "nobody bought the last album."

I know I didn’t get Calling All Hearts, but I did buy three released prior.

The critique among many Keyshia Cole fans is that, much like the last several Mary J. Blige albums, her last release just sounded a little bit too happy, more pop than we’re used to, and well, not all that great when compared to past works.

When an artist reaches a certain level of popularity, there’s always temptation on whether or not to deviate from the formula that brought them success. Some artists will label the switch as “evolution” and while legitimate growth may be true in some cases, in those like Keyshia Cole’s Calling All Hearts, going too left too soon will only alienate the people who made you a star (and rich).

Addressing her forthcoming album, Woman to Woman, Keyshia said in that radio interview, “I didn’t fall back, I went harder.”

More importantly, she realized you’ve got to give the people what they want: “This album is not about me. The album is about the fans that really want to hear things that help them and give them inspiration to get over dudes that do them wrong.”

In a separate interview with Singers Room, Keyshia explained: “I feel like the songs are for the fans anyway. If what makes them happy is to have music that helps them get over relationships of people that are doing no good, then I’m totally for it.” 

And just like that, I’m buying the new album. I don’t want to sound similar to some of those laptop label heads across the Web, but you know, it can be that easy.

I noticed a few members of Team Obvious quip that Keyshia is only reverting back to a familiar sound due to recent struggles and that she wouldn’t bother if the previous album had performed better.

Uh, that is the whole point of learning from your mistakes. Hence, why she told Singersroom: “If I look back, I would change the last album because I would want my fans to be happy and the last album didn’t make them happy. I would totally wanna go back and re-record that album and do something that helps them in their everyday lives.”

Change can be good, but it also needs to be gradual. That’s one reason why in recent years I’ve fallen out of love with many artists. Say those who have gone from singing soul one minute to skipping around some Belgium bar to EDM a second later; the Thug-N-B enthusiasts who forget that rapping ought to be a hobby versus a new habit; the rappers who left original fans bewildered in pursuit of new and paler pastures.

It’s not that I want to stifle creativity, but whew, not too much and not so fast. We’ll get there eventually, Keyshia, but right now, croon a bit more about the trifling and less about triumph. We can watch your new reality show for the latter.

That said, I appreciate Keyshia for thinking of her fans’ needs. Don’t criticize her motives, y’all. Celebrate them…and hope others with similar problems follow her lead.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick