Grammy nominated R&B songbird Keyshia Cole is undoubtedly at a crossroad in her career.
A celebrated songstress often branded “this generation’s Mary J. Blige” for her soulful tales of love gone wrong and undeviating appeals to the heartbroken, Cole once held a unique place among her rhythmic contemporaries as her releases – even in the genre’s initial decline – consistently topped charts and defied sales odds.
Yet, as R&B began to succumb to the wiles of fusions (see: trap, pop, etc.), it appeared to threaten the holds of even its heaviest hitmakers, Cole included. By the time her 2014 release, the critically polarizing ‘Point of No Return,’ hit the shelves, some fans feared she’d reach just that.
Determined to prove the naysayers wrong, Keyshia is back – and as she tells That Grape Juice – better than ever. Tuck in below to read what she shared exclusively with TGJ about her return to music, reality TV, and even plans to venture into movies:
TGJ: Thanks for joining us today, Keyshia!
Cole: No problem and thanks for the love.
TGJ: Let’s hop right into it. We’re loving your new single, ‘You.’ Tell us how the collabo with French Montana and Remy Ma came to be.
Cole: They are the homies man! Remy is my bff and I called her for sure. I reached out to French too to see if he’d do it and he recorded his verse for it the next day.
TGJ: Considering all the tracks you recorded for this new album why did you feel ‘You’ was the strongest pick to kick off your new project?
Cole: We have a bunch of huge ballads on the album, but I’m also an artist that stays in the club. So, we picked the up-tempo so the DJs can have something to work with.
TGJ: It’s interesting you’re taking the ballad route considering R&B is skewing more toward the “trap” sound. What inspired you to go against the grain?
Cole: It’s what I feel in my heart and in my spirit. I have to do what feels right. I understand the trap melodies are hot and ‘You’ kinda incorporates that, but I think people are really going to love these ballads.
TGJ: Nice. As we look forward to hearing some of those, tell us what else we should expect from your new album in terms of sounds, concepts, and themes.
Cole: I’m experimenting with new sounds in addition to “the old school Keyshia.” We have a lot of live instruments like violins, saxophones, and drums. So, I’m mixing the current sound with the real music sound that’s missing.
TGJ: You’ve also talked about how therapeutic this recording process has been given your recent divorce to basketball star Daniel “Boobie” Gibson. How will we hear that reflected in your new album?
Cole: I’m not so bitter anymore. It’s “matter of fact” in that I’ve found myself and know now what I will, won’t, and shouldn’t tolerate. He and I have come to a good space as far as co-parenting, however. So, we’re doing great.
TGJ: That’s good to hear. Now, we’re also excited to learn of your new label home, Epic Records. Tell us about how you came to be part of the Epic family.
Cole: Thank you! It’s a one album thing, not really a long, extensive record deal. I reached out to Doug Morris, who’s been there from the jump, and shared with him I wasn’t on Interscope anymore. I told him I wanted to be independent and I’d already recorded some songs, but he set up a meeting with LA Reid quickly. And, it all happened from there.
TGJ: Excellent. Now, we’ve talked about the album and its creation, lets dish a bit on how you’ll be promoting it. Will we see you on the road soon?
Cole: I’m trying to do a May album release with a June tour to follow.
TGJ: We’re sure your fans will be pleased to know that. In keeping it real Keyshia, we’re curious about your outlook on your stance in the industry today. While we’ve been longtime fans of yours, there are some people who have written you off in recent years. What do you say to those critics?
Cole: I don’t have anything to say to those people. God is good, so I’m just putting my work in and making sure this new album is 100% something I approve of. I’m not focusing on the people, how they felt, or anything negative said. All I’m worried about is now.
TGJ: Good for you! Bringing it all home, what else is Keyshia Cole cooking up? Should we expect to see you in movies or even returning to reality TV?
Cole: Yes to both. An official announcement is coming [regarding reality TV]. Plus, I really really want to be in the ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ remake coming soon. Like, they don’t even have a choice – they have to cast me! (Laughs)
I’ve had some calls about it, but they haven’t started production. I’m wanting to pick up either Tisha Campbell or Tischina Arnold’s characters.