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Keyshia Cole Talks New Album, Working With Nicki Minaj

Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

It’s been two years since Keyshia Cole has had an album out, and not only has her music changed, but her life has gone in a whole new direction. Since taking time away from the spotlight Cole, 29, got engaged to NBA basketball player, Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, and gave birth to the couple’s first child, Daniel Gibson, Jr., in March of this year. Now refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things, the Oakland, Calif. native revealed that her new love and motherhood are the best things that life has to offer. “It’s great, it brings a whole new inspiration to life,” Cole told The BoomBox of motherhood. “I don’t even know what I would do without that love.”

With the new album, ‘Calling All Hearts,’ hitting stores Dec. 21, Cole wasn’t just inspired by her current relationship, but also the changes that she has gone through while out of the public eye. Since her 2005 debut the singer has consistently released a new album every two years, and although her latest effort comes right on time, the obvious life change is what she believes made fans feel that she had been away for an extended period. These days, her biggest pillar of strength is her relationship with Gibson. Cole began dating the Cleveland Cavaliers point guard, five years her junior, in 2009. “I think that anytime that you have someone that totally supports you no matter what, and shows you that they love you when no one else is going to be there is totally just outstanding.”

Despite a strong foundation on the home front, her relationship with members of her extended family is currently not so stable. Cole’s mother Frankie Lons, who appeared on her BET reality show ‘The Way It Is,’ is no longer part of her life, which she publicly addressed earlier in the year. The two often hashed out unhealed wounds on the show, which lasted three seasons, only to later go their separate ways. The family drama deepened when Lons and Cole’s oldest sister Neffeteria ‘Neffie’ Pugh starred in the spinoff show ‘Frankie and Neffie.’ Cole openly expressed her disapproval of the show, which went on for two seasons. Lons, who has admitted to drug addiction, has lived a large portion of her life in and out of jail, and on the streets, causing her to give Cole, and her other siblings up for adoption. Lons now appears to be on the road to sobriety and while mother and daughter have yet to fully reconcile, a hopeful Cole sent a dedication to her biological mother in her album, expressing her “patience” with the possibility of healing their rift.

Family issues aside, Cole continues to move forward with her career, getting “back to basics” on this album. Although she admits to only writing one song totally based on motherhood and her relationship status, fans can expect much of the same passionate performances that have made the 29-year-old successful. Sprinkled between relationship ballads like ‘Tired of Doing Me,’ and ‘If I Fall in Love Again,’ include a sultrier more confident Cole by way of the lead single ‘Ain’t Thru.’ The track, which features music’s current “it girl” Nicki Minaj, is a call to all her haters who may have thought her step out of the spotlight and new home life was an end to a flustering career; and who better than Minaj to help convey that message. The chemistry between the two, and instant comradery led many to believe that they were friends before collaborating, which Cole says in untrue but still sings the praises of the 26-year-old rap phenom. “I think she’s a dope emcee. She brings a lot of excitement to the game. She’s not afraid to be different.”

Writing songs about bad relationships, along with the raspy and often urgent tone in her voice, drew early comparisons to Mary J. Blige who, like Cole, was open about her woes in the love department before singing a different tune after getting married in 2003. Although Cole herself has yet to walk down the aisle, being financially stable was her first motivation for getting into the music game, and now that she has reached that goal her priorities have changed. “I’ve prepared my whole career to making sure that no matter what I do, I’d be able to take care of [a] child when I had one. So I think the stress is kind of off me, financially so that’s all I was really concerned with, making sure I had enough dividends to make sure that he goes to school and college when he gets older and when he gets 18, if anything were to happen he’d be taken care of. I’ve already reached that [level] so I’m doing the rest because I love it.”

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