Keyshia Cole - Just Like You

Posted September 23, 2007
Tags: Keyshia Cole,

Hip-hop has always been like a movie, full of stars and background actors, good guys and...

Just Like You Album Review

Hip-hop has always been like a movie, full of stars and background actors, good guys and villains. There’s the smooth leading man who always gets the girl (Usher), the intimidating mob boss (50 Cent), and the aging boxer who can’t give up the spotlight (Jay-Z). And we can’t forget the gangster’s girlfriend. The woman who helps her man hide his stash from the feds, then finally decides she’s had enough of his cheating, throws a flower vase at his head, and leaves a heartbroken but stronger woman.

For years Mary J. Blige played the “married to the mob” part perfectly, watch her with Method Man in You’re All I Need, but Ms. Mary’s getting older. Hip-hop’s been looking for a younger woman to fill the role for years. The search is finally over, Keyshia Cole is here. The small but powerful singer’s ready for the spotlight with her new release Just Like You, a cinematic album filled with stories of love-gone-wrong. Guys want her because she’s sexy but could still throw down in a fight, while women love her because she gives a voice to their lives. Sure Beyonce’s great, but can she relate to your problems? Not unless your problems include the chauffeur leaving your Gucci bag in the limo. That’s exactly why we need Keyshia Cole.

Last Night typifies Cole’s R&B abilities so perfectly it deserves its own paragraph. It’s musical justice that the track is on Just Like You, Cole deserves all the credit for its success. She owned that song, Diddy was just paying rent, and now it’s finally on the right album. Cole shows her range by keeping her voice smooth in the beginning, but by the end it’s breaking in all the right places for maximum emotional impact. It’s everything an R&B/pop song should be. Did I mention Diddy got completely upstaged on his own song? Just thought it was worth repeating.

Cole is at her best during mid-tempo jams like Last Night, and the album has plenty to choose from. Let It Go is the lead single, an anthem extolling women to kick their no-good man to the curb. Producer Missy Elliot drops plenty of reminders that the beat’s a retouched version of Biggie’s classic joint Juicy, and Lil Kim completes the Ladies’ Night vibe with a old-school verse. There’s also a Let It Go Remix (even Stevie Wonder saw that coming) that gives the men a chance at the mic. Young Dro and T.I. put in verses but it’s not their best work, just another inferior remix. Either way Cole’s put together a certified hit that will have ladies everywhere using a shampoo bottle as a mic in the shower.

Keyshia Cole is the pride of Oakland and she obviously hasn’t forgotten her roots. She recruited Oaktown's founding father Too Short for Didn’t I Tell You, an unapologetic banger courtesy of some riding production from The Runners. If the clubs are going to explode to any track on Just Like You it’s this one. Similarly, R&B production mainstay Darkchild constructs a soaring beat that would have fit Mary J. Blige perfectly on Shoulda Let You Go, but this is Keyshia’s moment and she takes it. Plus she gives newcomer and Bay Area native Amina a chance at some major exposure, now that’s reppin' your hometown.

Just Like You also provides a number of slow ballads to comfort anyone currently plowing through a gallon of ice cream to get over a bad breakup. Losing You mixes electronic percussion with a soft piano line perfect for Keyshia to explain just how a good relationship falls apart. It also proves she knows how to get down without beating people over the head with the power of her voice. That’s the mark of an experienced singer, a category Losing You partner Anthony Hamilton also belongs in. Even more revealing is the title song Just Like You. The track’s more declaration than song, showing Cole has fully embraced her status as a role model for women. She’s talking to her fans when she sings, “I wanna be the one/who you can depend on.” After more than an hour of listening Keyshia overcome a broken heart I was desperate for a happy song, just one “I’m in love and it’s great” song, but what I want doesn’t really matter. If I had a daughter I’d want her listening to Just Like You, and I don’t know if I can pay Keyshia Cole a better compliment than that.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

Written by
Posted September 23, 2007
Get The PLUG app by DJBooth and get the best hip-hop writing and news delivered daily.

Sample Text - Sample Link

More Hip Hop News

Best of DJBooth