In 2005, a red-haired R&B singer named Keyshia Cole emerged on the music scene. She was slightly rough around the edges but her raw voice spoke to souls everywhere. The pain in her lyrics took listeners deep into places that often remind fans of lovelorn situations — like falling head over heels for someone and those first heartbreaks. To this day, she’s still an around-the-way girl with tremendous vocals in our opinion.
Keyshia’s music will always tell about her real life struggles, passion and her message. Twelve years later, she has returned with her seventh album, 11:11 Reset, and the heartfelt songstress has a brand new story to tell.
Can you full breakdown what ’11:11 Reset’ means?
Keyshia Cole: It’s significant to the ‘Angel Number.’ 11:11 represents being aligned spiritually with your destiny. It’s pretty much like the saying, ‘everything happens for a reason,’ and you know, to just appreciate where you’re at in that moment. Sometimes when you see [11:11] you’re supposed to pay attention to what you’re thinking at that time and what your focus is. I found out that I was born at 11:11 after I named the album that.
Some people believe that when you see 11:11 it means that the universe will manifest your thoughts into reality, and it’s usually why people make a wish when they see 11:11 on a clock. What is something you would wish for right now?
I would wish that my mom would get better. That she’d take care of herself more.
Over the summer you updated fans on your mother Frankie’s battle with drug abuse. How are you guys now? Have you guys spoken since then?
No, she hurt my feelings pretty bad.
Has anyone else in the family been keeping an eye on her?
Yeah, of course. She lives with my aunt, her sister.
To some, you’re known for your songs that identify with the “heartbroken.” Do you find yourself needing to create art that stays in that lane?
Ultimately, music is to reflect the artist and their artistry. I’ve been pretty true to that. I do appreciate my fans and I love them for being supportive from the beginning. When I’m recording, I always think about them. I always hear, ‘Girl, you helped me get through a bad breakup’ and ‘Girl, you helped me get through my marriage,’ things to that extent, so I’m always trying to look out for my fans but [at the same time] it’s ultimately reflective of my life.
I love that you say your music is a reflection of you. They say ’11:11’ is also a time to remember yourself. Was there ever a time in your professional life when you felt like you lost yourself?
Not in my professional life but possibly in my marriage. I was so fixated on being a wife and being there for someone else that I kind of neglected who I was as an artist.
Do you feel like that’s something many women in the entertainment industry have to deal with, focusing so much on being a wife that you neglect your professional life?
I think any professional and successful woman might go through that because in this day and age where women are just as successful as men are, it’s kind of hard to separate being a woman first, a wife first and then handling your professional career. I commend the women who are able to juggle because it’s hard to satisfy everyone without taking care of yourself as well. That can be difficult.
What was the inspiration behind the first single “Incapable”?
I wrote it with Elijah Blake and Goldie. They’ve both written a lot on this album with me and they were there throughout the process, if not the writing part of it, the background and things of that sort. This song channels my own experience as a woman, realizing that sometimes things are not completely about you. Sometimes it’s about someone else not being able to give you that. Someone not being capable of even loving you the way that you love.
I know Young Thug is featured on your new album. Recently, he tweeted that more women should ‘make a man do right.’ What are your thoughts on women making a man want to ‘do right’?
I can’t particularly give an opinion on [Thug’s] situation but I do feel that what we come from, sometimes poverty and things that we experience in our adolescence, can put a damper on us accepting, knowing and identifying what love is. It’s hard in the streets, you know what I’m saying? I can identify with that. I can understand where someone would be coming from when they say that because I’ve seen it before. I’ve experienced men say, ‘I’ve never been in love. I’ve never loved someone like that, so I don’t know what to do with that.’ Those are also things you have to watch out for because it can be hurtful loving someone who is not able to identify with it because they’ve never experienced [love] before. So, you’re going to go through thick and thin with that person and you’ve got to ride the waves of the ups and downs with that person if it’s worth it.
What vibes will we be getting from you on this album?
Real music, live instrumentation and also some great content. I really love the songs on the album. I’m super excited. I literally cried when I walked into my listening session in Los Angeles. It’s for real, it’s really happening, my seventh album. We have DJ Khaled on the album. We have Too Short, Kamiyah, French Montana, Young Thug and more. It’s just been awesome, it’s been amazing. The process has been three years long so I’m so excited it’s finally coming out. On top of that, I make it clear that I own all of my masters so that’s also super awesome as an artist.
Throughout the years you’ve made headlines for quite a few reasons, some good and some bad. There was your statements about Beyonce’s “Bow Down,” there was the alleged incident with a woman at Birdman’s house, what goes through your mind when you’re speaking your mind online, or you’re going through a personal matter and it becomes a national headline?
We all grow through the things we go through so we have to keep that in mind. As long as you are growing through the things that you’re going through, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it because no one is perfect. I also feel that at this current time, freedom of speech is problem. Being an individual and having your own opinion is a problem if you don’t flow with the masses. There’s ways to say things and ways to do things that are more appropriate for sure, though.
Do you find you need to censor yourself to avoid social media backlash?
I don’t think reconstruction is the key but when you grow through things that you go through, as long as you’re honest about your mistakes, I don’t feel that should be a problem.
I love that you mention your growth. There’s been a lot of changes in your music and in your image. What brought about that change?
Prayer, a lot of prayer. I’ve prayed many nights and asked God to strengthen me, my heart and my mind. I asked God to give me wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Me and my son, we pray a lot. You’ve got to pray for it, wait for it and be able to identify it when it comes becomes it comes in different forms.
You’ve done reality TV before, were you afraid of the stigma that comes with doing the
Love and Hip Hop show?
I’m not afraid of anything but I’m definitely partial to certain things like protecting myself, taking the necessary measures to make sure that the protection is in place. That was the ultimate goal for me. I thought it was a great platform to showcase the music and allow a different demographic to be in contact with my music. That was my main focus for joining this particular
Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, your now ex-husband, is part of your Love and Hip Hop storyline. You guys filed for divorce in September after being separated since 2014. What took you guys so long to make the divorce official?
There were a lot of ups and downs along with me not wanting to take DJ away from his father. It was just necessary because we have to be the best parents we can be for our children. Sometimes if people don’t bring out the best in each other and they have children, I feel like it’s better to part ways if that’s a better parenting relationship. At this point, we’re at that point.