Keyshia Cole is ready to hit the Reset button with a brand new album. Last week, the R&B songstress unveiled “You,” the first single featuring French Montana and Remy Ma. Now, KC opens up about the many inspirations behind her seventh LP, 11:11 Reset, her first on Epic Records.
“I’ve been working on this album for a minute now, before I even signed to Epic,” she tells Rap-Up. “It’s been a blessing to be able to have Epic on my team and me be on Epic’s team with L.A. Reid and Doug Morris. To have that support has been tremendous to me and the musical process has been awesome because they’ve contributed to that, as well.”
The album, which is “90 percent done,” follows Keyshia’s high-profile breakup with former NBA star Daniel “Booby” Gibson. “It’s just about realizing once you’re done with something, it’s time to move on and work on yourself and build yourself,” she said, without referencing Gibson directly. “That’s the whole vibe I felt during this process.”
During the exclusive interview, Keyshia also revealed some of the album’s guests, including DJ Khaled and Young Thug. Read on to see how her friends, her new label, and her newly-found biological father helped inspire her new work.
“You” is about heartbreak but also about self-empowerment. What inspired the track?
Getting over it. I’m done saying ‘enough.’ Finally realizing I can’t let that affect me no more. I’ve got to get it together. Musically, we had Harmony [Samuels]. He did “Enough of No Love” and he actually produced another record on this album as well. He’s a dope producer who gets it. We wanted to do something that could be in the clubs and mix shows. I haven’t been there in a minute.
Remy Ma and French Montana add to the concept with their verses. What made them perfect for this?
Remy is my girl. That’s my ace there. She’s been supportive during this process and I told her I couldn’t do this album without her. French is the homie so one call, he got on the record, and he did it the next day…They’re both perfect for this particular song and they both thought the same.
What can you share about the album’s concept and production?
I’ve been working on this album for a minute now, before I even signed to Epic. It’s been a blessing to be able to have Epic on my team and me be on Epic’s team with L.A. Reid and Doug Morris. To have that support has been tremendous to me and the musical process has been awesome because they’ve contribute to that, as well. It’s just about realizing once you’re done with something, it’s time to move on and work on yourself and build yourself. That’s the whole vibe I felt during this process. It wasn’t particularly about being inside that, at the moment.
I’m really done with the love thing right now, for a second. Just building on myself, not trying to date somebody else or be with somebody else or think about nobody else. I want to think about the smallest things, from getting my nails done to going to rehearse to making sure my voice is right to making sure my baby is right. I need to focus on me and no one else. [Reset] was the first thing we came up with. I worked with Eric Bellinger on that a while ago. I went in there and told him, ‘It’s time to hit the reset.’ So, this is pretty much reflecting on the past. It’s not me being in that moment right now. I’m over it.
What’s the significance of the title, 11:11 Reset?
I just wanted to put that on the album because it’s been everywhere. For the past year, I’ve been seeing 11:11 constantly and to my understanding, you’re aligned spiritually with your destiny and everything that is meant to be in your life is happening at the right time. The timing is right. Everything is right. Reset is definitely cohesive with that.
Who did you collaborate with this time around?
Harmony, of course. Kevin Randolph, he also makes music, and we got Young Thug on that track. Drumma Boy is like my brother. He’s so cool. He was with me through this process and he did a song that I collaborated with Kamaiyah on. I’m still going to go in another week and hopefully we have Hit-Boy lined up, S1 lined up. We got Danja and then we got Amadeus, who did a song on the album that everybody loves. That’s possibly another single. So, yeah, we just got a bunch of people lined up for next week too, after the “Jimmy Kimmel [Live!]” performance…Yani did ‘The Right Time’ and I really, really love that song because I had 1500 [or Nothin’]…So, I had real music incorporated with this album, strings, and everything…That was really big for me.
Fans saw you with Frank Ocean last year and there are reports that DJ Khaled is on the album intro. What can you tell us about your work with Frank and Khaled?
Khaled definitely did the intro for me, kind of hyping the album. I really like the motivation he gives off and we were able to capture that. Frank, we were working in the same studio. I didn’t even reach out to him and ask him for any collab. or anything like that. Musically, I’m a fan of his and I really do love his music so we just took a picture. We snapped a quick flick together.
In 2015, you spoke to Rap-Up about going independent. 11:11 Reset is now coming out on Epic. What made you decide to sign with another label after Interscope?
It had been on my mind for a while to reach out to Doug Morris. I know that a lot of people were saying, “You should go to Epic.” My friend said she had a dream that I was going to Epic. I was like, “I don’t think so. I want to make sure that I own the rights to my albums and own my masters.” That was a major part because Prince told me that. I was really focused on that and trying to get that done. But being a mom and…It’s not that I can’t do it, but it’s a lot. I really commend anybody that is doing that, making that happen. It’s a tough road to not have such a massive machine behind you.
So I had to reach out to Doug Morris because it was on my brain. Everyday I’d wake up and think about it. I don’t know why it was happening but I reached out to him and he was like, “I’ve got someone who wants to sign you.” I was like, “I’m not on Interscope anymore.” He was like, “I’m gonna hook you up with L.A. Reid. Maybe you can go play the music for him and maybe we can do a partnership. Whatever y’all work out, I support.” We ended up doing a 50/50 split with that so I’m still signed under my own label but also with Epic. I came in with half of the album done but we have a bunch of stuff that we did on the Epic side like the first single.
You reconnected with your biological father last year. How has that experience impacted your life and music?
It’s crazy. It seems surreal. It’s crazy how things happen at the right time. That’s why I was thinking about that 11:11. My father came at a perfect time in my life. I needed him at that time. I just thank God. I have to give him his credit because he’s been bringing things out the woodwork that I wouldn’t even imagine would ever happen. I always thought I looked just like my mom but I look just like him. It’s crazy. We walk alike, talk alike.
You recently shared a video of Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up.” It was right after the Women’s March. What inspired you to pull from ‘Pac like that?
I met him when I was about 14 years old. He’s always been in my mind, just remembering him saying, “You’re gonna be a huge star.” Saying, “Nobody could take that from you. Stay focused.” He was saying his last farewell the night he got shot. So, when I seen it, I was like, “Wow.” There’s so much that we’re missing, men like him. I thought it would be a beautiful message to share for ladies. Sometimes, I have to take that message myself. “It’s hard, but you gotta keep ya head up.”