Keyshia Cole — “I Should’ve Cheated”

Released: 8.2.05

Peak: #30

Keyshia Cole is hardly the most underrated female R&B star of the ’00s. Still, despite her hair’s strawberry tinge and her three-season reality show, she’s among the least recognizable for pop fans–her voice doesn’t project the consistent, distinct personality that makes for a star. And her music is the better for it, because her voice, with its warm burr, does, in fact, project a strong personality, but her fame never overshadows her music, making her a suitable heir to the first-among-homegirls title that Mary J. long since became too famous to wear.

All that’s maybe just a fancy way of saying Keyshia doesn’t cross over, an antiquated-sounding term, but relevant enough here to make us think twice before we cosign the conventional wisdom that R&B and hip-hop are the new mainstream. Cole’s been plenty successful on her own turf, with three platinum albums, two of ’em R&B #1s, and “I Should’ve Cheated” charting as just the first of ten consecutive R&B top ten singles. And if her debut single, “I Changed My Mind” stiffed, despite Kanye rehashing a sample of Solomon Burke’s “Get Out of My Life, Woman,” by way of Dr. Dre, maybe there was just too much going on there. Or maybe she’s better suited to B than R.

“I Should’ve Cheated” centers on a simpler conceit: If her man’s gonna accuse Keyshia of infidelity, she may as well have fucked around. “You came to accuse me of all the things you are guilty of,” she tells the dog, leaving open the question of whether her “First of all, let me say” is a deliberate or unconscious nod to “Say My Name,” especially given the slight melodic echo. As producer/ writer 112’s Daron Jones works his unobtrusive Quiet Storm thang, with an unfancy thwock moving things forward, Cole refuses to work up to the sort of sub-diva foot-stompiness that passes for catharsis in the world that Whitney and Mariah made.

Maybe it’s just that Cole doesn’t have the diva chops to pull that off. Plenty of R&B aesthetes judge her voice too rickety, after all. But that’s what plenty of critics said about Mary back when too. And unlike Mary, there’s as little danger of Keyshia outgrowing her normality as there is of her blowing a situation out of proportion.

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Comments

  • "apollo beach home bargain"  On February 6, 2014 at 9:55 am

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