Concert Review: Keyshia Cole Pulls a Lauryn Hill at The Fillmore Charlotte

As people waited in long lines to flood their favorite retailers for Black Friday sales, I traveled from Columbia, SC to Charlotte, NC to see Keyshia Cole at The Fillmore Charlotte.

I arrived to the AvidXchange Music Factory venue at 6:27 p.m. Unlike lines at retailers Friday, where the wait is unavoidable and uncomfortable, I was perfectly at ease being the 20th concert-goer in line.

Ten minutes later, more attendees followed behind to patiently wait for doors to open at 7 p.m.

Undressed and shivering in 37 degree weather, I struck up conversation about ticket cost with Keyshia Cole admirers. “We won our tickets off Streetz 103.3,” one couple said.

Another fan said, “I bought mine off Groupon for $39. I love you Keyshia but I wasn’t spending more than $50.” I agreed since I got my ticket at the same deal.

Doors opened three minutes after 7 p.m. After getting patted down and having my ticket scanned by The Fillmore door staff, I bypassed other fans and jetted to the front of the stage to wait for the show.

Some fans claimed their spot at the head of the stage barricade too. Other fans found empty floor space to stand comfortably before those at the bar filled in the gaps.

At 7:17 p.m., MMG’s DJ MC got settled with his laptop and other stereo equipment on the smoky stage. He came fully equipped to have the crowd lit with his mega mix and fly DJing skills.

As fog occupied the stage, nostalgia filled rest of the room. DJ MC had fans right where he wanted them – in a carefree zone. Music lovers used their outside voice to recite explicit lyrics and sing classic R&B and hip-hop songs including “I Get Money” by 50 Cent, UCB’s “Sexy Lady” and “Nice and Slow” by Usher.

The VIP clique didn’t let their lack of essential amenities (i.e. chairs or tables) get in the away of their party. The wall worked perfectly for grinding.

DJ MC had help getting the crowd excited from 92.7 The Block hosts Chewy Torres and Sunshine Anderson – yes, “Heard it All Before” Sunshine Anderson, too.

By 9:02 p.m., fans were chanting, “We want Keyshia.”

Ten minutes later, DJ MC was breaking down his equipment to make room for GO DJ HI C, Keyshia’s official DJ.

I don’t know if the crowd was aggravated and ready for Keyshia but the energy shifted downward when he got on stage.

It felt like we changed the radio dial to a new station but got the same syndicated countdown – just with a harder thumb. GO DJ HI C’s blaring speaker bass creeped into my torso as if I had just painfully swallowed it.

A few recycled songs in, GO DJ HI C announced at 9:24 p.m., “I just got a text. My boss is about to hit the stage.”

Eager to record Keyshia’s opening note, I pulled out my iPhone to capture every minute. With 69 percent battery life, I tapped on the Facebook icon to start a live stream.

With no background singers in sight or any Fillmore staff prepping the stage for Keyshia’s arrival, it was evident GO DJ HI C’s receipt had no validity.

“This is ridiculous,” mumbled a female patron behind me. “I hope she shows up because she bailed before.”

As the DJ played more music and strolled through his cellphone, another female fan offered commentary. “If I wanted to listen to music for two hours I would have went to a club.”

It was 9:40 p.m. and the crowd began to get restless. Four-letter words started to be heard in the now tight quarters — most were directed to GO DJ HI C.

He attempted to ease the last nerve of fans. “Ya’ll chill,” he roared in the mic. “I wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t coming out. She’s not coming out until she can hear you guys in her dressing room.”

GO DJ HI C also tried to hype the crowd for Keyshia’s entrance. “I need the left side to say ‘Keyshia’ and the right to say ‘Cole,’” as he pointed to each side of the room.

Some were interested in crowd participation but others weren’t. I was apart of the latter group.

The DJ returned to the mic at 9:43 p.m., and began an introduction for a Grammy nominated artist.

Cell phones brighten the dark venue momentarily but quickly dimmed when attendees realized it wasn’t the headliner gracing the stage — it was Sunshine Anderson.

Used to distract fans from Keyshia’s CP time, the singer-turned radio personality tipped on stage in open-toe heels, donning a simple black top with un-curve friendly black tights.

With support of a backtrack, the North Carolina native noticeably lipped the lyrics to “Lunch or Dinner” from her 2001 debut, Your Woman.

Sunshine bought Keyshia more time to hit the stage as she started to actually sing her signature song “Heard It All Before.” It was obvious she didn’t warm up her voice. Her vocal execution reflected especially towards the collapsed bridge.

Despite Sunshine not possessing vocal conviction, she had the heart to fight through it.

The unimpressed concert-goers softly clapped to see Sunshine off the stage.

Two minutes before 10 p.m. a gentleman rocking a pink backpack sashayed on stage. Before exiting, he left two styrofoam cups on a stage podium.

“When you see him, that means Keyshia’s on her way,” shouted GO DJ HI C across the room.

Exactly seven minutes after 10 p.m., GO DJ HI C took the mic again and finally grabbed the audience’s attention. “Ladies and gentlemen, Keyshia Cole.”

With help from her security, the woman of the last two hours, walked up the side steps of the stage.

Dressed in a suede trench coat with matching heeled boots and ripped jeans, the Just Like You songstress kicked off the delayed show singing “I Should Have Cheated” off her first album, The Way It Is.

Keyshia quickly asked the audio engineer to adjust her inner ear before capping the song with an extended high note.

Joined by her three male dancers, the Oakland-bred singer moved swiftly through her medley of hits including “Enough of No Love,” “Shoulda Let You Go,” “I Changed My Mind” and “You.”

After wrapping up her remix to Chris Brown’s “Loyal,” Keyshia took off her winter coat to show off her shimmering silk shirt. Without officially apologizing for her tardiness, she mentioned being thankful for her fans as a means for damage control.

It didn’t seem to work, and she knew it. “Okay. Let’s go into the next song then,” she told GO DJ HI C.

She belted her biggest hits “I Remember,” and “Love” before she engaged in personal conversation with the crowd.

From requesting the crowds opinion on if she should back to Love and Hip-Hop: Hollywood to explaining why she opted to skip Thanksgiving dinner with her newly found dad, Virgil Hunter, Keyshia sincerely asked for fans to send her a prayer up the main line.

Thirty minutes into her set, Keyshia wanted fans to tell her what to perform next. Most songs fans mentioned like “Vault” and “Emotional” from her 11: 11 Reset album were off limits.

“This isn’t the tour guys,” she replied with a smile. “The tour doesn’t start until next year. But I cannot wait to perform those songs though.”

While she didn’t perform demanded cuts from her new album, she gave us “Incapable” along with a similar dance routine from the single’s accompanying visual.

Following three more songs, Keyshia ended the 45-minute set with her Grammy nominated record, “Let It Go.”

Before leaving the stage, she directed fans to meet her at Stats Restaurant and Bar for the official after-party.

Honestly, I feel like I wasted a trip to Charlotte. I didn’t leave with a wow experience. I expected her to sing more material from her silently released album. Yet, my wish didn’t come to fruition.

Keyshia treated her Fillmore performance like an afterthought. It appeared to me that she got a calendar reminder while she caught Black Friday sales on Fashion Nova’s website. After realizing her spot date, she called her style team and caught a red-eye flight to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Keyshia’s lateness was inexcusable and warranted a more sincere apology. Instead she rushed through her sloppy set list to get to the after-party.

Her running behind schedule wouldn’t have been terribly bad if she had a legit special guest. And I’m sorry, Sunshine Anderson doesn’t count.

Collectively, the two hours of DJing, the talent show performance from Sunshine Anderson and Keyshia Cole’s tardiness calls for a total refund. But I’m sure Live Nation is incapable of issuing it to us.

Antwane Folk is the editorial assistant at RatedRnB.com.

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10 Underrated Songs by Keyshia Cole

In February, we launched our new monthly feature, Underrated, with R&B legend Toni Braxton and her notable album gems as our primary focus. This time around, we are putting the spotlight on singer-songwriter Keyshia Cole, who is now a certified R&B vet.

The Oakland, Calif. native introduced herself to listeners in 2004 with her expressive voice and relatable narrative on the troubling tales of love and life. Now, seven albums into her decade-long career, the Grammy-nominated artist has a discography that has a few celebrated hits but an abundance of material that hasn’t gotten its rightful respect.

Take a look at our list of Cole’s 10 most slept-on records. We even share a love lesson or two about some of these records. (Sidenote: This list of songs does not include material from her Point of No Return album or her latest album 11:11 Reset, which she plans to repackage with three new songs.)

1. “Love, I Thought You Had My Back” from the album The Way It Is (2005)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Randolph Murph, Ralph Eskridge, Clarence Johnson Jr, Frederick Taylor (Writers); Ron Fair and Toxic (Producers)

For an artist who sings directly from their soul, being pitch perfect doesn’t normally matter. Keyshia Cole proved this on fan-favorite and one of her best post-breakup anthems “Love, Thought You Had My Back.”

Sampling “Love Jones” by Brighter Side of Darkness, Keyshia finds herself interrogating love for not holding up its end of the bargain after her latest love-affair blew up in flames.

Now that the relationship has ended, Keyshia offers a word of advice to listeners who still believe in a happily-ever-afters. “You gotta know your focus in life / And if love is your focus /Then man pay attention,” she says.

2. “We Could Be” from the album The Way It Is (2005)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Errol “Poppi” McCalla Jr. (Writers); Errol “Poppi” McCalla Jr., Ron Flair (Producers)

Have you ever wanted to take a friendship to the next level with someone? Keyshia found herself sharing those same feelings on this silky track off her debut album.

Over a slow-burning instrumental, and singing with unfledged vocals, Keyshia pictures a perfect life with a friend she wants to pursue a deeper connection with.

“If you’d be cool with me / You’ll see, that I’m all you need and all that you dream / And never would leave, you’ll be by my side forever / Swear to God we’ll grow old together, then reality would be you and me,” she sings.

3. “Fallin Out” from the album Just Like You (2007)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Soulshock, K. Karlin, Tammie L. Harris (Writers); Soulshock and Karlin (Producers)

After sharing the spotlight with some of hip-hop’s OG’s (Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim and Too $hort) on the first two tracks of Just Like You, Keyshia takes on “Fallin’ Out” by herself and unleashes a bottle of emotions on the way things used to be with her lover.

Starting off with dramatic strings, and a sizzling sound effect, the R&B veteran dwindles out of love with a man who isn’t who she first fell in love with. “I remember when, I’d be with my friends / You checked on me and made time to call / But how things have changed? — now I don’t hear from you at all,” she sings.

Many critics have deeded Keyshia Cole’s Just Like You album a daughter to Mary J Blige’s personal My Life album. This opinion holds some weight as “Fallin’ Out” slightly mirrors Rose Royce’s “I’m Goin’ Down,” which was made popular in the ‘90s by Blige. Keyshia’s song, however, takes a far deeper lyrical approach than Blige’s bluesy rendition.

4. “Give Me More” from the album Just Like You (2007)

Credits: Keyshia Cole and Scott Storch (Writers); Scott Storch (Producer)

Come through, drums! With producer Scott Storch still blazing, Keyshia called on him to bring the bass and co-pen this mid-tempo banger.

On the retro track, Keyshia thought she found someone special, but she was sadly mistaken when he started playing games with her heart. After experiencing a breakup, she requires a little “more” from her next man.

“Give Me More” allows Storch to put his musicianship on display as he lets loose with an electric guitar towards the end of the track.

5. “Erotic” from the album A Different Me (2008)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Ron Fair, Theron Feemster (Writers); “THE-RON” Feemster (Additional Production by Ron Fair) (Producer)

Following the multiple Grammy nominations for her Just Like You album, Keyshia decided to make a drastic artistic shift, leaning more towards a universal sound for her follow-up, A Different Me.

Backed by an eerie sci-fi production, “Erotic” begins with a weird message from an unidentified life form. Don’t press skip though. Keyshia owns her experimental journey, as she shifts vocally like a five-speed sports car in-between the lanes of the futuristic beat.

6. “This is Us” from the album A Different Me (2008)

Credits: E. Bogart, V. Horn, J.T. Miller (Writers); Ron Fair and Jason T. Miller (Producers)

If there was one record from Keyshia’s A Different Me album that had the ability to reach a more mainstream audience, it was her country-inspired song, “This is Us.”

Supported by an acoustic guitar, a timid drum pattern and sugary analogies on an imperfectly perfect relationship, Keyshia showcased that she was able to tap into new genres of music and sound outstanding.

Allegedly, “This is Us” was expected to be released as the fourth and final single from A Different Me. Keyshia’s pregnancy probably played a huge factor in the failure to move forward with “Us” as a single.

7. “Tired of Doing Me” featuring Tank from the album Calling All Hearts (2010)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, F. Taylor, M. Quaham, D. Babbs (Tank), J. Franklin, R. Newt, J. Valentine, K. Stephens; Toxic**, Ron Fair, N8**, and Song Dynasty (Producers)

Keyshia is never afraid to share an R&B moment with artists she admires. She invites Tank to help her explain the emptiness of being alone after realizing the value of finding that special person.

In separate verses, the R&B General recounts his life as a bachelor while Keysh explains why she was hesitant about falling in love again. The two singers find a happy medium on the bridge, accepting that “doing me ain’t working no more.”

8. “What You Do To Me” from the album Calling All Hearts (2010)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Chink Santana (Writers); Chink Santana (Producer)

Caught up in the rapture of love with then-husband Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, Keyshia tried her luck at making some “grown-folk” music. She succeeded with this intimately composed ballad.

On the sensual track, Keyshia paints the ultimate love scene in her head about how her man makes her temperature rise. “I can feel you kissing me, oh so softly / Making love baby, I can feel your heartbeat / Baby, don’t stop,” she passionately sings.

She is vocally excellent on this song, using the right breathing techniques to set the mood just right for love-making. This record is perfect to play for an anniversary or a just an “I love you” moment for your significant other.

9. “Who’s Gonna Hold Me Down” from the album Woman to Woman (2012)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Kuk Harrell, Guordan Banks, Jessyca Wilson, Isaacs Hayes (Writers); BINK! Humble Monsta (Producer)

“Shaft!” is the immediate phrase that comes to mind when the funky instrumental starts off the track. Keyshia does Isaac Hayes’ “Shafts Theme” justice with this four-minute conversational tune on recouping after the dust settles from an unsuccessful romance.

On the BINK!-produced track, Keyshia uses her speaking voice to informally elaborate on the painful accuracies of how we repeatedly let our lovers hurt us but always managing to find it in our hearts to give them one more chance. Most times we convince ourselves we need them when we actually are better off without them. “When I’m with you, my heart skips a beat / Oh, I want you back I need you bad / But I gotta get over you, “ she sings.

Thankfully, she gathers feelings towards the end of the deluxe edition record, leaving us with a final realization. “Guess you gotta let that go / If it ain’t yours, it ain’t yours / You gotta let it go / I now it’s hard but you can do better,” she preaches.

10. “Next Move” from the album Woman to Woman (2012)

Credits: Keyshia Cole, Kuk Harrell, Guordan Banks, Jessyca Wilson (Writers); BINK! Humble Monsta (Producer)

After a lukewarm response for her Calling All Hearts album, Keyshia came strong with Woman to Woman. Her hard work shows on this slow-paced ballad featuring background vocals from Robin Thicke.

Being in a relationship without a title two things: mixed feelings and heartbreak. To limit confusion, simply making the “next move” and asking the hard but seriously needed questions, “Are we going to be monogamous or should we just see other people?”

If we don’t have this conversation early on, we’ll probably end up like Keyshia does on the second verse. “I hate the fact, we never set the rules / So I can’t even trip when you want to act brand new / But I still get mad when you walk out the room / But the truth is: I’m not the only one loving you,” she painfully remembers.

HONORABLE MENTION

“Same Thing (Interlude)” from the album Just Like You

Credits: Keyshia Cole, T. Rey and C. Brown (Writers); T Rey and C. Broan (Producers)

Serving as a transition between songs “Heaven Sent” and “Got to Get My Heart Back,” this nearly two-minute tease makes us want to fight Keyshia. While she pours out her emotions about the redundant behavior of her two-timing ex, she indirectly plays with ours. This interlude deserved more. We wanted more.

Did we get this list right? Let us know in the comment section.

Follow Antwane @9thwonderofPR

Keyshia Cole Plans to Repackage ’11:11 Reset’ With Three New Songs

Keyshia Cole has been hush mouth since the release of her 11:11 Reset album last October. Her silence has its good reasons though, according to a recent Instagram post.

The “Better Me” singer has plans to revive her latest album and its era. “I will be announcing a tour soon,” she wrote. She will also rerelease her album with three new songs.

The 11-track project, which released on Oct. 20, 2017, highlights Cole’s personal triumphs and trials post-divorce. The album includes the Remy Ma and French Montana assisted single “You” and soulful ballad “Incapable.”

There is no word on when Cole will re-release the album.

Are you interested in new music from Keysh? Let us know in the comment section. 

Justine Skye, Let’s Talk ‘Ultraviolet’: A Career Conversation

I’ve been following Justine Skye for a while. Not as far back as her Tumblr days, but around the time her Tyga-assisted cut “Collide” began to pick up some steam.

Over the past three years since, Skye has produced a couple of solid records, had some impressive sponsorships and endorsements, and even landed a record deal with Roc Nation. Minor successes aside, there’s been a common note when I’ve mentioned her name in conversation: “She’s not memorable.” And that criticism is more than valid. As someone who has kept up with her work, I even have trouble remembering most of the tracks from her three EPs (although, admittedly, I’d rather not remember her 8 Ounces EP.) Skye’s musical issues ultimately boil down to two things: artistry and execution.

We all know that every successful recording artist isn’t original, or even necessarily talented. However, those type of artists know their market, work within the limits of their artistry, and execute accordingly. The reason why it’s been hard for this Brooklyn beauty to pop is because we, as consumers, don’t know what sport she’s playing nor the arena she’s playing in.

On the artistic side of things, Skye has always struggled to nail her “sound.” Her singing voice is quite generic — which isn’t a dig, nor a hindrance necessarily — but her lyrics are also somewhat lackluster, as well as her ad-libs. Nothing truly stands out, and because Skye’s artistry hasn’t developed, her music sways with the trends of the and sounds of the time. I expressed these concerns in a series of tweets back in 2016 — which ultimately got me blocked on my old Twitter account by Ms. Skye, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Justine Skye Tweet 3Let’s talk execution. Skye released “U Don’t Know” featuring Nigerian singer WizKid in September 2016, with the accompanying video released the following month. Then, a little over a month after the video release, she releases her 8 Ounces EP without “U Don’t Know.” Yet, in 2018, she included the mid-tempo track on her album, and this time without the WizKid feature.

Poor execution.

Sometimes the first single doesn’t work, so that’s okay. She tried again in July with “Back for More” featuring Jeremih. Despite the seven month stretch between singles, the song was an appropriate, summer jam. Unfortunately, even with the feature, the song didn’t get past a few adds at urban radio. The video was released in early August, and then it was silence again from Team Skye.

Poor execution.

Skye then releases third single “Don’t Think About It” on December 1. A week later, she announced the release of her debut album with another single — the PARTYNEXTDOOR-penned “Goodlove” and the video for “Don’t Think About It.” By the time the album dropped, she released another single (“Heaven”), which totaled a five tracks from a 10-track album.

Even with all of these musical misfires, I decided to give the album a listen. After listening to the 33-minute project, I was left generally underwhelmed. Although short albums aren’t common, they can definitely work with a strong thematic direction (see: Lalah Hathaway’s honestly. and Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic.)

Ultraviolet suffers from a combination of issues, but ultimately the music just fails to hit. I must say, though, that “Goodlove” and “You Got Me” have been on repeat, and guess who penned both of these tracks? PARTYNEXTDOOR. On a 10-track album, if the two standouts are written by the same person, I think that’s worth noting. Hit-Boy’s production on “Lil’ Boy” was also a bright spot for me on this otherwise mid-tempo album.

I don’t have anything against Justine Skye or her music, even. She’s given us jams like “Never Leave,” “I’m Yours” and “Messin’ w/You.” However, if she wants a serious shot at chart success, she’s going to need to find her artistic voice and learn how to properly execute when it comes to the visuals, singles, and the art of timing.

Ultraviolet has left me with more questions than answers, but the biggest question of all is still, “Who is Justine Skye?”

Follow Nathan on Twitter @TheGreatIsNate.

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