The Way It Is (Keyshia Cole album)

The Way It Is is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Keyshia Cole, released on June 21, 2005, through A&M Records and Imani Entertainment. The album features guest appearances from Jadakiss, Chink Santana, Metro City and Eve. Cole co-wrote every song on the album, and also worked with a number of producers and writers, including Ron Fair, Sean Garrett, Kerry "Krucial" Brothers, Polow da Don, John Legend, Alicia Keys and Kanye West. The Way It Is is a R&B album, with some tracks having hip hop and hip hop soul sensibilities. Lyrically, the album speaks of romantic relationships.

The Way It Is
Keyshia Cole - The Way It Is.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 21, 2005
Genre
Length48:51
Label
Producer
Keyshia Cole chronology
The Way It Is
(2005)
Just like You
(2007)
Singles from The Way It Is
  1. "I Changed My Mind"
    Released: November 9, 2004
  2. "(I Just Want It) To Be Over"
    Released: April 5, 2005
  3. "I Should Have Cheated"
    Released: August 3, 2005
  4. "Love"
    Released: January 6, 2006

Four official singles were released from The Way It Is; all reached the top 40 of the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The album's lead single "I Changed My Mind" peaked at number seventy-one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number twenty-three on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. "(I Just Want It) To Be Over" was released as the album's second single and peaked at number thirty on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The third single "I Should Have Cheated" became Cole's first single to reach the top-five on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs as well as her first single to reach the top forty of the Hot 100. The fourth single "Love" was the album's best-performing song on the Hot 100, spending nineteen weeks on the chart and becoming Cole's first top 20 hit in the US. Cole promoted the album by performing as the supporting act, for the tours by artists such as Nelly and Kanye West.

The Way It Is received generally positive reviews from music critics, who praised Cole's vocals and musical themes and compared them to the likes of fellow female R&B singer Mary J. Blige. The album enjoyed commercial success and launched Cole's career in R&B music, selling 89,000 units in its first week, while becoming one of the ten biggest-selling R&B/Hip-Hop albums of the year. In the United States, it stayed on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for eighty-four weeks, and was certified gold by the RIAA within seventeen weeks, and then platinum only eight weeks later. The Way It Is was Cole's longest-charting album on the Billboard 200, remaining on the chart for sixty-four weeks in total and staying on the chart for over a year, eventually selling over 1.6 million copies. The Way It Is also garnered Cole two Soul Train Music Award nominations for Best Female R&B/Soul Album and one for the album's fourth single, "Love" for Best Female R&B/Soul Single at the 20th Soul Train Music Awards in 2006.

BackgroundEdit

Cole grew up in foster care in Oakland, California after being adopted by Yvonne Cole. "I went through a lot as a young girl," she told Sonia Murray of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That's why I'm so serious and determined to make it in this business. So I can help young ladies in general; but especially those in foster care, who I know need help finding jobs, and just getting their goals in line."[1] Cole managed to convince American rapper MC Hammer into giving her a backup vocal slot and a chance to record with him.[2][3] Eventually, Cole managed to gain recognition into the Bay Area's hip hop and R&B scenes. She appeared on recordings by rapper Messy Marv ("Nubian Queen") and Tony! Toni! Toné! member D'wayne Wiggins (the soundtrack for the film Me and Mrs. Jones).[4] After she caught her then boyfriend cheating on her with another woman, within “minutes” she got in her car and drove for nine hours to Los Angeles, California to further pursue her music career according to her biography page on her website.[5] After getting an interview with him, Cole was signed to A&M Records by its president, Ron Fair and he later began mentoring her in 2004.[6] While explaining her life struggles and career beginnings, Cole said, "I was 21, He signed me after he heard half a song, Ron took me to Jimmy Iovine that next week, and then 'I Changed My Mind' came out."[4]

Music and lyricsEdit

Cole collaborated with several musicians on the album. Eve (left) co-wrote and recorded vocals for "Never" while Jadakiss (right) co-wrote and recorded vocals for "Guess What?".

The Way It Is is a hip hop soul-influenced, R&B album and is seen to be about the ugly parts of a romantic relationship.[8][9] The album served as a "light at the end of the tunnel" for Cole and was the culmination of years of trials and tribulations, along with emotional drama.[10] The lead single "I Changed My Mind" was written by Cole, John Legend, Kanye West, and was produced by West. The storyline of "I Changed My Mind" has the protagonist take back her love from an unfaithful companion.[11] A remix of the song which features rap by Shyne, was included as a bonus track on the international edition of the album.[12]

Cole wrote "Love" while she was at a nightclub in Malibu, California, after spotting one of her ex-boyfriends with his girlfriend at a restaurant in that city.[13] Cole said Ron Fair initially signed her after hearing the first verse and chorus of the song, describing it as "the easiest part".[6][14] The critically proclaimed "heartbreak song" of the album expresses feeling an emotion not felt before with someone and how it feels when it is felt for the very first time.[15]

"Love" serves as the sixth track from the album, after "Guess What?", an aggressive song about Cole dumping a worthless guy who has been unfaithful to her and caused negative situations for her.[8] "Guess What?" is a collaboration between Cole and rapper Jadakiss, which was written by the latter alongside Sean Garrett who co-produced it with Ron Fair. "You've Changed" is described by critics as a "smooth mix" of "bitter" sentiments and "sweet" soul.[16] The song "You've Changed" samples "Song Cry" by Jay-Z.[17] "You've Changed" was written by Cole, Leonard Huggins, Rich Shelton and Ron Fair while being produced by the latter two alongside Kevin Veney and Loren Hill.[18] The final song, "Never", contains a sample of Luther Vandross's "Never Too Much", and features rapper Eve.[10]

Marketing and releaseEdit

Following its announcement, The Way It Is was expected to be released in January 2005 but was then delayed to April 26 instead and eventually faced two more delays.[19][20] In anticipation of the album's release, Cole and DJ Green Lantern released a mixtape entitled Team Invasion Presents Keyshia Cole in February 2005 featuring remixes of hip-hop instrumentals and snippets of songs from her and helped build a buzz around Cole's upcoming album release.[21][22]

The Way It Is was released on June 21, 2005 through A&M Records in Italy,[23] Japan,[24] and the United States (alongside Imani Entertainment) with twelve tracks.[25] Cole was highly involved in the album packaging, designing the text fonts and selecting/adding her photographed pictures herself. In the back cover, each track name is listed in uppercase letters, a feat she would also execute for her succeeding albums. An accompanying television commercial (which highlights the first two singles) was also released following the album's release.[26] The Way It Is was also promoted with four official singles, which all peaked on the forty of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts.[27]

PromotionEdit

Cole's first broadcast performance of "I Changed My Mind" was on June 26, 2004 on Soul Train, marking Cole's first ever televised performance.[28][29] Cole performed "I Should Have Cheated" at the Vibe Awards on November 15, 2005.[30] She also performed the song during BET's 106 & Park's New Year's Eve special in December 2005.[31] Cole continued to promote the album with televised live performances in 2006 in which she performed "Love" at the Soul Train Music Awards on March 4, 2006.[32]

Cole also promoted the album by performing as an opening act for two hip hop artists' concert tours. She opened for Nelly on several dates, from April 18 to May 3, 2005, included on the Sweatsuit Tour (2005), performing a total of five songs from the album.[33] She also served as opening act on five dates for Kanye West's Touch the Sky Tour (2005–06), performing from October 31, 2005 to February 28, 2006 on the both halves of the American and European legs.[34]

Besides televised performances and tours, Cole began doing acoustic sessions and studio performances to promote the album. In December 2005, she performed acoustic versions of six songs from the album, "I Should Have Cheated", "(I Just Want It) To Be Over", "I Changed My Mind",[35] "Love", "Love, I Thought You Had My Back",[36] and "We Could Be" at The Village in Santa Monica, California.[37]

SinglesEdit

 
Benny Boom (pictured) directed the music videos for the last three singles.

"I Changed My Mind" was released as the lead single from The Way It Is on November 9, 2004. It was mildly successful commercially, peaking at number seventy-one on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number twenty-three on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[38] The music video for the song was directed by Nzingha Stewart and was first seen as the "New Joint of the Week" on BET's 106 & Park on August 13, 2004.[39][40]

"(I Just Want It) To Be Over" was released as the second single from The Way It Is. It debuted at number twenty-five on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart before eventually reaching number-one, though it failed to enter the Hot 100.[41][42] Nevertheless, it managed to reach the top forty of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart peaking at number thirty, marking it Cole's second non-consecutive single to reach the top forty on that chart.[43]

"I Should Have Cheated" was released as the third single from the album. The song was critically favored, being described as an "emotion-packed hit".[44][45] "I Should Have Cheated" peaked at number thirty on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent thirteen weeks on that chart. It also became Cole's first top ten on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[46] The song's Benny Boom-directed music video premiered on August 25, 2005 on 106 & Park, making the top five on there and stayed there for 46 days.[47]

"Love" was released as the fourth and final single from the album. "Love" received critical success for its memorable chorus and instrumental, as well as commercial success by becoming the best-charting single from The Way It Is on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number nineteen.[48][49] The song's Benny-Boom directed accompanying music video featured American singer Tyrese as Cole's love interest and received heavy play on BET.[50] On the countdown show, 106 and Park, the track retired, making the countdown for 65 days. The video retired from the countdown on April 19, 2006. It became Cole's first mainstream hit, peaking at number-one on the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop chart.[51] The song was certified platinum by the RIAA for the shipment of 1,000,000 copies.[52]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic77/100[53]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [8]
Robert Christgau  [54]
Entertainment WeeklyB[55]
Los Angeles Times    [56]
Rolling Stone     [57]
StylusB[58]
Vibe     [59]

Upon its release, The Way It is garnered generally favorable reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a rated mean out of 100 from mainstream critics, the album received a score of 77 based on 9 critic reviews.[53] Andy Kellman of Allmusic rated the album four out of five stars. He felt that "from the opener, the album seems to be set up like a linear narrative about a crumbling relationship, but it doesn't quite play out that way, with the scenes shuffled out of order. None of it's all that profound, but Cole sells it all extremely well. [Her] voice is sweet and ringing, like a wiser version of Lil' Mo who has had to weather a tremendous amount of drama. She could be around for a while."[8] Janet Tzou, writing for Entertainment Weekly found that "Cole certainly nails all the basics on The Way It Is: big-name guest talent and husky ballads lamenting those tricky matters of the heart. But Cole's native Oakland, California upbringing gives her vocals depth and her songs a genuine, lived-in feel."[55]

An editor from the New York Times called "The Way It Is" an "excellent debut album".[53] Brolin Winning of Rhapsody said that The Way It Is showcases Cole's "strong vocals" and "struggle-filled" lyricism, with "deep songs" about infidelity, heartbreak and true love.[60] Barry Walters of Rolling Stone gave a positive review, saying that Cole "rides the album's multiple peaks with a rare mix of street smarts and chops."[57] David Drake of Stylus said that the songs from the album "stay stuck with you like a lump in your throat".[58] He compared her musical sound to the likes of Mary J. Blige.[58]

Rondell Conway of Vibe wrote Cole's "ability to belt to her heart's content saves the album from its inconsistent production."[59] Amy Linden of Village Voice declared that the album "buoys honest, rugged, unpitying good-girl-gone-wrong anthems with the de rigueur hip hop atmospherics."[61] In a negative review, a writer for Blender said that the album's sound was "dry and straightforward disco-soul."[53] Furthermore, a writer for E! Online felt that The Way It Is never quite "lives up" to the album it could have been.[62]

AccoladesEdit

Critics' lists
Publication List Rank Ref.
Rolling Stone Top 50 Records of 2005
41
Highest Rated R&B Albums of 2005 N/A
The Fader 150 More Great Albums Made By Women
79

AwardsEdit

Industry awards
Year Ceremony Category Result Ref.
2006 Soul Train Music Awards Best Female R&B/Soul Album Nominated [66]

Commercial performanceEdit

 
Cole performing in April 2006.

On the week ending July 16, 2005, The Way It Is debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 89,000 copies.[67][68] In its second week, the album dropped 26 places to number thirty-two.[69] In its third week, the album dropped 8 places to number forty.[70] In its fourth week, the album dropped 21 places to number sixty-one.[71] In its fifth week, the album dropped 19 places to number eighty.[72] The album spent fifty-nine more weeks before dropping out of the Billboard 200 chart after the last week ending September 23, 2005.[73][74] The album stayed on the chart for 64 weeks in total.[6] Additionally, The Way It Is debuted at number two on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and spent 84 non-consecutive weeks on that chart.[68][75] Billboard ranked the album 139th and 32nd on its Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums year-end listing of 2005.[76][77] Billboard also ranked the album tenth on its Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums 2006 year-end listing.[78] The album was eventually certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 14, 2006 for sales exceeding one million copies.[79][80] In addition to the platinum success of the album, Cole held a "platinum party". The development of The Way It Is platinum party was featured on the season finale of the reality television series Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is; during the episode, Monica, Jagged Edge and other notable musicians appeared at the party and were seen partying with Cole.[81]

Legacy and impactEdit

With the release of her debut album and the combined commercial success of its singles, Cole had established herself a successful solo artist. The album led her to successful endeavors post 2005 until the release of her second album Just like You (2007), including making guest appearances on several other artists' albums, songs landing on successful soundtracks for films such as Mission: Impossible III and Step Up (both in 2006),[82][83] her first starring TV role in the "infamous" reality television series Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is, and receiving ten non-consecutive nominations at six major award ceremonies in all.[84] The Way It Is was ranked number-one by Ranker on their "Best Keyshia Cole Albums, Ranked" list.[85] Via her Instagram page, American singer Ari Lennox named The Way It Is as "one of the most phenomenal debut albums ever", continuing with "This joint is a classic and forever cranks!" and then hashtagged four of the album's songs.[86]

Web publication Rated R&B celebrated The Way It Is's fifteenth anniversary and highlighted its two singles "(I Just Want It) To Be Over" and "Love", along with Cole's breakthrough performance of "I Should Have Cheated" at the 2005 Vibe Awards and complimented four other songs from the album. The editor, Antwane Folk wrote about the album's lyrical content and sound, describing the songs as "bittersweet songs" and "resilient anthems". Folk later went on to call The Way It Is "a masterpiece that stands on the strength of hard work and dedication".[87]

Track listingEdit

The Way It Is track listing
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."(I Just Want It) To Be Over"
4:03
2."I Changed My Mind"
3:19
3."Love, I Thought You Had My Back"
  • Cole
  • Randolph Murph
  • Ralph Eskridge
  • Clarence Johnson Jr
  • Frederick Taylor
  • Fair
  • Toxic
4:10
4."I Should Have Cheated"
  • Jones
  • Fair
5:31
5."Guess What?" (featuring Jadakiss)
3:45
6."Love"
  • Cole
  • Gregory G. Curtis
4:15
7."You've Changed"
  • Cole
  • Fair
  • Leonard Huggins
  • Rich Shelton
  • Shelton
  • Kevin Veney
  • Loren Hill
  • Fair
4:17
8."We Could Be"
  • Cole
  • Errol McCalla Jr.
  • E-Poppi
  • Fair
3:11
9."Situations" (featuring Chink Santana)
  • Santana
  • Fair[a]
4:46
10."Down and Dirty"
  • Cole
  • Curtis
  • Elliott
Curtis3:52
11."Superstar" (featuring Metro City)
  • Cole
  • G. Cole
3:48
12."Never" (featuring Eve)
  • E-Poppi
  • Fair
4:03
International bonus tracks[88][12]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
13."I Changed My Mind" (Remix) (featuring Shyne)
3:38
14."Love" (AOL live version)  4:35

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies a vocal producer
  • ^[b] signifies an additional producer

Sample credits

PersonnelEdit

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes[89]

Instruments

  • Keyshia Cole – lead vocals, background vocals, songwriting
  • Cyrus DeShield, Kareem Carter, Reynaldo Gilmore, Jyshoun Mcneil (Metro City) – lead vocals, background vocals
  • Charlie Bisharat – violin
  • Jacqueline Brand – violin
  • Roberto Cani – violin
  • Nico Carmine Abondolo – bass guitar
  • Mario de Leon – violin
  • Brian Dembow – viola
  • Joel Derouin – violin
  • Bruce Dukov – violin
  • Stephen Erdody – cello
  • Steve Erody – cello
  • Marlo Fisher – viola
  • Matt Funes – viola
  • Armen Garabedian – violin
  • Berj Garabedian – violin
  • Julie Gigante – violin
  • Endre Granat – violin
  • Alan Grunfield – violin
  • Clayton Haslop – violin
  • Dan Higgins – flute, horn
  • Josephina Vergara – violin
  • David F. Walther – viola
  • Jerry Hey – horn
  • Suzie Katayama – cello
  • Songa Lee – violin
  • Natalie Leggett – violin
  • Gayle Levant – harp
  • Phillipe Levy – violin
  • David Low – cello
  • Rene Mandel – violin
  • Darrin McCann – viola
  • Vicki Miskolczy – viola
  • Robin Olson – violin
  • Simon Oswell – viola
  • Sid Page – violin
  • Sara Parkins – violin
  • Joel Peskin – horn
  • Katia Popov – violin
  • Steve Rodriguez – bass guitar
  • Anatoly Rosinsky – violin
  • Sarah Thornblade – violin
  • Kenneth Yerks – violin
  • Raj Ertui – clarinet
  • Miri Ben-AriIsrael violin

Production

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[95] Platinum 1,600,000[A]

Release historyEdit

List of release dates, showing region, formats and label
Region Date Format(s) Label Ref.
United Kingdom May 24, 2005 A&M [96]
Italy June 21, 2005 [23]
Japan [24]
United States [97]

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NotesEdit

  1. ^ Sales of The Way It Is in the United States as of December 2010.[80]

External linksEdit