Interview by ToneSwep
Cali Queen and R&B Diva Keyshia Cole talks about knowing Tupac, the social ills in her native Oakland, and why she encourages her Female Fans to – “Never forget who you are. And always love yourself.”
(Tone Swep: TS) Ms. Keyshia, whatz up sis. Yo, mama I’m proud of you. Your growth, your accomplishments. The whole maturation process from “The Way It Is” to “A Different Me”. And now the upcoming “Keyshia” project is in the works. It’s a Cole World. How does that feel?
(Keyshia Cole: K.COLE) It feels great. I worked hard to get where I am today and have matured greatly in-between my albums which was proven on my latest album “A Different Me.” So I just give blessings to God for what he has given me.
(TS) I’m a little frustrated right now. Honestly mama, I mean… You, Meagan Good, Tyra Banks, Lauren London, Gabrielle Union – why are Cali girls so damn fine? What’s in the water?
(K.COLE) (Laughs) Cali is a beautiful state, it produces beautiful women! (laughs some more)
(TS) One of the more appreciated aspects of your work is that you consistently work with megastars from the 80’s and 90’s – Poke & Tone, Missy Elliot, Lil Kim, Tupac, Nas, Monica. Do you make a conscious effort to work with artists from that era; keep them relevant?
(K.COLE) I wouldn’t say that I make a conscious effort. I do make a conscious decision of who I work with however. I mean, I am a fan of those artists and their talent and working with them has made my success in my era reputable.
(TS) You met and knew Tupac very early in your life, as an Oakland teen? If you would, talk a little about your experiences in knowing ‘Pac. How you two met? What kinda man Hip Hop’s big homie was? Where would ‘Pac be now, today, had tragedy not struck?
(K.COLE) I did know ‘Pac. My brother and him were working on music together. That’s how we met. ‘Pac was real cool, real humble. The game never got to him. The day he got shot, he said we were going to work together but he never made it back home. If he was alive today, ‘Pac would be on top. Here was an artist that was constantly evolving. If you look at the game, he paved the way for practically every artist that is out now.
(TS) I wanted to speak with you a bit about Oakland, Keysh. The Town. The last job I had in Cali was in downtown Oakland, off Broadway and 7th. The place was bedlam: cats were moving everything from weed to tennis shoes on the block. That hyphy shit had cats wildin’ out. Poverty, homelessness, teen domestic violence, the high school drop out rates – all record highs. Why? What’s wrong?
(K.COLE) That’s absolutely right, and I think… (weighs her words)… I think what young teens have to realize is that it is more to life than what they are presented with. I was one of those people in poverty, not knowing where I was going to lay my head at one point, but I had to brainwash myself into knowing what I wanted out of life and the beauty of my talent. Once I got set in that, there was nothing stopping me. I got out of Oakland. I did not like what it represented at that point in my life. There are aspects of Oakland, educational programs, sports programs, child development and teen clubs that teens do not take advantage of because they are not taught those things. They are not taught that there are ways to make the best out of your life even when you’re at an all time low.
(TS) You’re on top, which is a tremendous responsibility. Socially, girls from 8-to-18 pattern their lives, their look, and their life choices after yours. Is that too much pressure for you at only 28, or do you welcome the challenge?
(K.COLE) I do not view it as a challenge. I think it is great that I can be an influence to young girls. However, what I do promote is being yourself. The advice I give to young girls who follow people of influence, are never forget who you are and always love yourself.