NEW YORK — For all the devotion to her female fans Keyshia Cole has shown through empowering anthems like “Love” and “I Should Have Cheated,” it’s hard to believe that the soul-baring singer has barely collaborated with many ladies in her young career.
But all that changed with one phone call made to Missy Elliott, when Cole got even more than she had hoped.
“I wanted her to be one of the producers on the album, so I just called her and she came through,” Cole said two weeks ago from the set of a video for “Let It Go,” the first single from her sophomore album, Just Like You, which Geffen is tentatively due to release in August. The track may ring familiar — “Let It Go” features a sample of “Juicy Fruit” by funk/soul group Mtume; the same tune was sampled on Notorious B.I.G.’s breakout hit “Juicy.”
“We hooked it up,” she continued. “As soon as I heard [’Let It Go’], I was like, ’That one, I want that one right there.’ And it’s hot. It’s Biggie’s remake to [’Juicy’], so I had to do it.”
Elliott, who produced and is featured on “Let It Go,” then upped the lady quotient by adding Lil’ Kim to the track.
“When I first did the beat, like, I immediately thought of Kim,” Elliott said. ” ’Cause you immediately think of Big. For people like me from the old school, actually, I immediately think of Mtume, the first people who did it. But you think of Big, and then you think of Kim. And I thought, ’[There] hasn’t been a record with females all on one thing in a long time, since, like, “Ladies Night” [the common name of the remix to Lil’ Kim’s “Not Tonight”].’ So when you think of that, it’s like, ’OK, let’s make it official and put Kim on there.’ And [Keyshia and I] both was with it; it sounded like a hot idea. And Kim came through and laced it.”
Fittingly enough, New York radio jock Angie Martinez — who appeared on Kim’s “Not Tonight” remix 10 years ago alongside Missy, Da Brat and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes — was also on hand for the Benny Boom-directed video, which was shot at Manhattan nightspots Guesthouse and Home. Martinez, along with Queen Latifah business partner Shakim Compere and Biggie associate Lance “Un” Rivera, kept low profiles on the set, but Fat Joe managed to sneak into a frame or two for a cameo.
“The concept of the video,” Cole explained, “was you know, I’m chillin’ at home, I just want to go out, they want me to go out, so I go out. I go do my thing and have a good time, basically. It’s a party concept: This is what you need to do when you hear this song come on at the club. That’s what you need to do with this record: Let it go.”
In addition to Missy and Kim, Cole snagged Scott Storch, Too Short, Bryan-Michael Cox and Sean Garrett to contribute to Just Like You, the follow-up to her 2005 debut, The Way It Is.
The songstress said that, although her profile has grown recently thanks in part to collaborations with Diddy and Young Jeezy, she’s still aiming to keep in tune with her fans, regardless of what success she’s gained since her debut.
On the album’s title track, “I’m explaining how I’m just like you; I go through everyday things, I’m trying to get my things together just like you, I’m trying to learn myself, just like you, you know,” she said. “Everything that we go through on a regular day, just trying to get ourselves together and slowly gravitate to the goals and aspirations we have in life, and I think when it comes to that aspect, I’m just like anybody else.
“I’m gonna have a fabulous time this time,” she added. “I’ve grown a lot more than the last album, so it’s all good.”