Keyshia Cole's Just Like You

Violent but delicate r&b paeans to trifling dudes and the beatdowns they deserve

With her tatted-up arms, crazy-color hair (just when this fashion shifted from punk rock to hip-hop is unclear), and acrylic-tips toughness, no one would ever confuse Keyshia Cole with a dewy ingénue. But while Cole (whose '05 sleeper The Way It Is earned her the "New Mary" tag—something that must thrill the highly functional "old" Mary) has that hood-honey thing on lock, her husky yet openly optimistic voice betrays the softness beneath. Co-written by Cole but given a leg up by the usual suspects (e.g., Bryan Michael Cox, Rodney Jerkins, and Missy Elliot, who almost steals the show on the ladies-first "Let It Go"), Just Like You runs the thematic gamut, from Gurl, why doesn't he love me like he should? (the sturdy "Didn't I Tell You," featuring fellow Oaktownian Too Short), to Gurl, I'm gonna leave him if he doesn't love me like he should (the self-explanatory "Shoulda Let You Go"), to Gurl, one day he'll love me like he should ("Heaven Sent"). Gossamer and unapologetically girly, Keyshia's warm and steady vocals on the latter—hooray! An r&b singer who can give you emotion without off-key melisma!—invite a (potential) knight to roll up in his Escalade, rose in hand. OK, maybe that's taking it a bit too far. But you can't deny the pleasure of finding a ride-or-die chick who's vulnerable, but can still kick your trifling ass.

 
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