A Different Me
It’s hard to go wrong when you’re working with a voice as passionate at Keyshia Cole’s. The productions on A Different Me are as varied as those on Just Like You, but this time around they feel even more tailored to Cole’s personality. The jazzy inventions of “Make Me Over” sacrifice nothing of the singer’s unwavering attitude, while the pure simmering drama of “Erotic” and “Where This Love Could End Up” are second to none. Other songs place Cole in the tradition of performers that preceded her. “No Other” and “Trust” exemplify the torrential, all-encompassing love songs that Cole learned from studying Mary J. Blige. Meanwhile, “Please Don’t Stop” and “Thought You Should Know” recall the hypnotic electro-inflected R&B on which Cole was raised in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The album’s centerpiece is “Playa Cardz Right,” which features an excavated 2Pac verse. Usually a posthumous 2Pac verse seems like a cheap way to cash in, but Cole is one of the few singers who can comfortably commune with Tupac’s spirit, not only because of their shared Oakland heritage but because their art is drawn from the same wellspring of woundedness.