Since breaking into the industry with her signature voice and songs of love and heartbreak, Keyshia Cole has often been compared to or described as a direct musical descendant of Mary J. Blige. With that in mind, it should be a no-brainer for the two artists to collaborate, right?
Wrong. While Keyshia has always been hopeful about the two doing a song together, she shared that Mary, in an unshady way, is just not with it.
That information was revealed during a recent interview Keyshia did with Hollywood Unlocked host Jason Lee on Instagram Live. A fan asked if there was one person she would absolutely love to interview on her Fox Soul program One on One with Keyshia Cole, and she shared that it would be Mary. When Jason asked why it hadn’t happened yet, Keyshia broke into a story about how hard it is to wrangle the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul for most things.
“I ain’t gonna lie. I was so happy Mary even let me open up for her at a show that she had in Miami,” she said. “I’ve been asking Mary for years and years to do a record, because the fans want to hear it and it would have been amazing to do something like that at the height of my career and at the height of her career. That would have been super amazing, I felt like.”
The last time she ran the idea across Mary, which was allegedly a couple of years ago, the “Family Affair” singer didn’t say yes or no.
“I asked her this last time and she said, ‘I don’t…I don’t know.’ And I was just like…’hmm?'”
“She said, ‘Don’t you prefer me to be honest with you about it?’ I said, that’s true. ‘Cause at least she didn’t lead me on and tell me probably. Even though probably is better than no [laughs],” she joked.
Despite the fact that Mary chooses not to collaborate with her, these days, Keyshia has nothing but love and admirable things to say about the superstar.
“So much strength follows Mary,” she said. “She’s left things so high in what to follow, so I feel like everything that she’s done in her career, if I touch any of it, is a blessing.”
This is a stark contrast to how Keyshia previously felt about her relationship with Mary. She said back in 2012 that she wished the star she’d looked up to for so long would have been something of a mentor and embraced her.
“I’m very happy to have been compared to such a wonderful woman, a strong woman,” she said at the time. “The only thing that I would’ve changed, that I am now here to do for those that come after me, is to lend a helping hand. I feel that even if it’s not me saying I’m gonna record with you, I’m gonna work with you or let’s go hang out or anything like that. We don’t have to be friends, but at the end of the day, being able to give advice or help somebody that is coming under you is an amazing gift to be able to have. I wish I would have had that from Mary, but I’m not Mary. I’m a different person and if K. Michelle ever call me or anybody for that matter, for advice, I would absolutely give it to them.”
But before you assume Mary doesn’t like working with other women, let the record show that she’s collaborated with a number of other women over the years. Hit the flip to see some of the songs that came out of the many times she’s worked with other musical divas.
“I Can Love You” feat. Lil Kim
From the minute the song comes on, you know a dance party is about to happen. The song was written for Mary’s third album, Share My World, in 1996 and features some of Lil Kim’s most memorable lyrics.
Faith Evans’ “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”
While Faith and Mary didn’t always have the best relationship, they collaborated on the beautiful remake of the Rose Royce classic, “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” for Faith’s eponymous album from 1995. There is a version without Mary that Faith said was recorded because she was told that Mary didn’t want her vocals on her album. Mary, however, refuted that story in 2017.
“I love that song. I love the duet that we did, and every time I hear it I’m like, ‘Well, what happened to my part?’”
“Not Today” feat. Eve
This track, released in 2003 for Mary’s Love and Life album, was also used for the Barbershop 2: Back in Business soundtrack. The song was produced by Dr. Dre, who has collaborated with both ladies on some of their biggest hits. That includes Eve’s “Blow Ya Mind” and Mary’s “Family Affair.”
“All That I Can Say”
A beautiful song, “All That I Can Say” appeared on the Mary album from 1999, and was both written and produced by Lauryn Hill. The former Fugees member had quite the hit streak at that time. Her own album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, was one of the biggest albums ever when released in 1998, and Mary and Lauryn collaborated on that as well.
Lauryn Hill’s “I Used to Love Him”
The ladies came together for this deep cut on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. According to Vada Nobles, a producer on the iconic album, the song was all about Hill’s past relationship with Wyclef Jean.
“We were having a conversation about her relationship in the little studio in her attic in South Orange, and that’s how ‘I Used to Love Him’ came about,” Vada told Rolling Stone. “It was about ‘Clef.”
“Never Been” feat. Missy Elliott
Produced by Missy Elliott, “Never Been” was featured on Mary’s epic 2001 No More Drama album. Missy’s vocals can also be heard on the track. In some “Bet You Didn’t Know” information, the song samples McFadden & Whitehead’s (of “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” fame) “Why Oh Why.”
Mariah Carey’s “It’s a Wrap”
Two divas with two of the biggest voices out there collaborated on this remix for Mariah’s Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse album. The original track was released with Mariah solo in 2009 for her Imperfect Angel album. Mariah said of the track, “It’s like when you’ve waited all night long for somebody to come home and they finally come home, and it’s the morning and… you yourself are like, ‘Where is this MF’er?’”
“Love a Woman” feat. Beyoncé
At some point Mary had to collaborate with Queen Bey. This duet happened on Mary’s My Life II album and was released in 2011. The song was originally supposed to appear on a Beyoncé album, but the star didn’t think it was a fit.
“She had her A&R people play the record for us. I’m sitting in the back thinking, ‘Is she really going to give me this record? That’s crazy! It’s amazing,'” Blige said. “I asked her A&R person and he said, ‘Yes, she wants you to have the record, but she wants to stay on it with you.’ I loved that idea and I’m thankful. I thank Beyoncé for the record.”
Case’s “Touch Me, Tease Me” feat. Foxy Brown
While Mary wasn’t one of the main artists on this track, her vocals were all over this classic song from her ex-boyfriend, Case, which features Foxy Brown. Mary is also featured heavily in the video with both Case and Foxy, and all three of their vocals (and rhymes) on the hit fit together perfectly.
Lil Kim’s “Hold On”
Lil Kim and Mary, good friends, collaborated again on a track for the Notorious K.I.M. album that was a tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. The song was released in 2000, a few years after B.I.G.’s death in 1997. We know that to this day, his death still weighs heavily on the legendary rapper.