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defend the album is a lyrics-first blog by me, bradley fields, about the stories and moments I find in albums that matter to me. Almost always in fewer than 1,000 words.

Keyshia Cole's 11:11 Reset

11:11 Reset is an invitation to dust yourself off and try again. Not to forgive or forget, but to refocus.

After a call from DJ Khaled—our millennium’s leading motivational speaker—to stand up and be counted while others tally up their losses (“They played themselves; we the greatest ever”), it’s time to get to work.

Wake up and look in the mirror; life is one hell of a picture.

God, I want to know what they sample in Unbothered. But its story: Keyshia’s confidence feels genuine, not for a second like she’s trying to convince herself (though that’d be ok too). She starts the reset unchecked by their hesitations, unattracted to their fear.

I empty out the closet like a full clip.

In You, Keyshia clears the deck, fed up, over a Set Adrift on Memory Bliss sample. Remy’s feature is on-theme with dead-on-balls accuracy (“You know what you did and, honestly, I been type done”). And it’s fire when she draws lines between herself, a fowl bitch, and other birds. So, if you’re so vain you find yourself thinking this song’s about you, just take the L in silence.

The one that I thought that I needed was incapable of needing me back.

Incapable’s a banger. It’s the R&B I’ve missed while (enjoyably) lost in that whispery, alt-R&B sound we get from The Weeknd, Jhene, Sampha, etc. “Don't call me 'til you know you're really through” pairs perfectly with the preceding lyric about going ‘round in circles. And the way Keyshia climbs into the canon of “thought” in the last chorus run? Sheeeeeeit.

I know there’s love in my vault.

Best Friend is about reestablishing trust shattered in You and Incapable. “There’ll be no talk, ‘cause you would show me” is something to believe in. What follows in Vault is vulnerability. Keyshia is closer to comforting herself than testifying like she does in Unbothered. And clap, clap, bravo to “Don’t play with my feelings just to fill in a void.”

Here’s hoping Vault is also home to two great references. “It gets a little lonely sometimes” is delivered like a similar line from Lenny Williams’s 'Cause I Love You. And “I wish you would slide in on my carpet” could be the most Aladdin-meets-R&B moment since Peabo and Regina.

I already paid the cost for these lies you can’t afford to fix.

Right Time is an undressing: “I would give you a penny for your thoughts, but your two cents ain’t worth shit.” It fades into Emotional, where Keyshia discards the labor of being with someone unworthy (“Not scared of you leaving”).

Pretty chick, ski mask. Pop up, pull off fast.

The bravado in Ride (delivered over a Hail Mary sample) complements the get-it-and-get-out mentality of Act Right (“I can't stay no later than three and it's already two thirty”) and, save for a Too $hort outro, bookends the reset.

Notes

Release date

October 20, 2017

Producers

Aaron Rogers · Antwan "Amadeus" Thompson · Bongo the Drum GAHD · Danja · DJ Mustard · Drumma Boy · Edgar "JV" Etienne · Harmony Samuels · Rashad Johnson · Ray Keys · R. City

Writers

Aaron Rogers · Antwan "Amadeus" Thompson · Danja · DJ Khaled · Elijah Blake · French Montana, Gary Kemp · Harmony Samuels · Jeremih · Kamaiyah · Keyshia Cole · Marcella Araica · Prince Be · Rashad Johnson · Remy Ma · Theron Thomas · Timothy Thomas · Too $hort · Young Thug

Majid Jordan’s The Space Between

Johnnyswim's Georgica Pond