R&B music’s latest newcomer Keyshia Cole tried to claim the game for herself when her album The Way It Is was released June 12 of 2005. This is not an easy task for a new kid on the block when a veteran R&B diva like Mariah Carey makes an astonishing come back just two months before. Regardless, Keyshia can hold her own. Cole delivers the heart, soul, and passion of Mary J Blige with a voice all her own.
No annoying pointless skits in this album. "I Just Want It To Be Over," a collaboration with Krucial Keys, gets this album to jump off. It begins with a Hip Hop influenced brass section and head bangin’ percussions. Cole sings about a good love gone bad and the need to get out as soon as possible. What should have been just another single to grab your attention turns into a heart felt piece of music due to the passion the singer exudes in every song she sings.
A perfect example would be Love. From the second the guitars begin, you can immediately tell that this song is serious. Just three bars into the song you can feel her voice begin stealing your heart. The chorus alone grabs your soul and never lets go. If you close your eyes and take a deep breath in, you can reminisce the harmonizing of 90s style R&B.
Contrary to how the album begins it slowly turns "Down and Dirty". A relatively clean song about wanting to be close with someone you have strong feelings for. It starts off with a mind catching guitar solo, that is heard throughout the song, layered with the easy sounds of a Rhodes and filled in with a mildly intricate bass line.
The Way It Is has many high points with minor downfalls. Just when you think that you have a heartbroken softie on your hands "Guess What"" featuring Jada Kiss begins with a fed up Keyshia Cole. “I’m tired of the bull****, competing with these other chicks” the songstress sings as she keeps it real grimy and street. No pleading for change, no second chance. At the end of the song is an explicit rant but in an attempt not to go overboard editing cuts its way into the track. An over all good track but it is no match for songs like "I Should’ve Cheated," "Situations," and "Thought You Had My Back."
"Never" is an attempt at a Luther Vandross Classic, Never too Much. The words are changed as the music is remixed a bit. Of course the original song is the best but Keyshia does it justice by feeding you a quality vocal performance. I was a bit reluctant to accept this song since it was a remake of a great classic but Keyshia’s vocal arrangements and love for what she sings will eventually win you over every time. Guest starring on this track is Eve delivering a hot 16 the only way she knows how to do it.
Keyshia Cole brings back what the R&B game had been lacking for a long time…..passion. The Way It Is, is no gimmick album. The vocals are on point with no help from editing or special effects. If you’re looking for a mono tone voice then you are definitely in the wrong place. Only a full and multi range singer lives here. The lyrics are about real life and not the bubblegum pop that we have been force fed over the past few years. There is nothing to say about the music except that it is the icing on the cake and that’s just the way it is. It gets an 8/10 from me.