Keri Hilson has a history of producing great collaborations with the opposite sex. From “Turning Me On” with Lil Wayne to “Knock You Down” with Kanye West and Ne-Yo. But having made her rounds with hip-hop’s most notable XY-chromosomes, it was announced late last month that the 28-year-old songstress had passed the mic to a J. Cole on the track “By You.”
Although the leaked track originally featured Lil Kim, a Cole verse was brought to Hilson’s attention and she instantly gravitated towards it. “[J. Cole] wasn’t in the original plan, but I liked what he said and how he said it,” she says. “Cole has a certain ‘man factor.’ He doesn’t talk about the BS that a lot of rappers talk about. His perspective is different, manly, and intelligent… I appreciate that.”
The black blondie also mentioned that the collaboration has a strong shot at becoming a single and encompasses the complete vibe of her second album.
Recalling her first time really noticing Cole at the 2010 BET Hip-Hop Awards during his performance of “Who Dat,” Hilson says despite Cole not being a main act, his presence was undeniably made. “His performance didn’t have a high production value, but he shined and stood out to me. You could understand what he was saying— every single word,” she explained.
“[‘Who Dat’] was a song I wasn’t crazy familiar with at the moment, but I appreciated that as a real hip-hop. I felt like all the sudden I was in an underground club listening to somebody who had something real to say. So it made me intrigued in who he was. I just appreciate anytime that happens. So I’m a definite fan of J. Cole.”
Hilson’s sophomore album, No Boys Allowed, drops Dec. 21.