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Alicia Keys – Keys

Alicia Keys – Keys
Release date
December 10 2021
Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys – Keys
December 10 2021 | R&B

Keys is the eighth studio album by American singer and songwriter Alicia Keys, released through RCA Records on December 10, 2021. It was primarily produced by Keys. It was preceded by the release of two singles: “Lala (Unlocked)” featuring Swae Lee and “Best of Me”. The album was announced on October 27 and includes two discs (original and unlocked), with two versions of 10 tracks, along with six other tracks.

Conception and composition
The singer’s eighth recording project consists of two parts: the first, called Originals, is described as “the classic side of me”, while the second, Unlocked, is “a whole other sonic experience”.[8] The album features the singer as producer and songwriter on all twenty-six tracks, with numerous songwriters and producers participating, including Mike Will Made It, Sia, Raphael Saadiq, Natalie Hemby, and vocal collaborations from Khalid, Lil Wayne, Pusha T, Swae Lee, Brandi Carlile, and Jacob Collier.

Alicia Keys, interviewed by Entertainment Weekly, said about the album:

«The pandemic hit; I didn’t feel creative at all. I had lost my center and didn’t really know how to find peace. [...] So I did get right back in and I knew that I wanted to do this album called Keys. And as I started to create it, I realized that it was a homecoming for me. It’s so grounded in songwriting and raw expression. I didn’t worry about production. [...] Me and my engineer Ann Mincieli started conversating about this concept about these two worlds. [...] She suggested I connect with [rap producer] Mike Will. And when I connected with Mike Will, it was instant vibes. [...] I like that you can choose your own adventure. You could do that thing where you’re kind of A-B-ing it, or you can just ride out to what your energy is».

Keys debuted the album’s lead single, “Lala” at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards alongside Swae Lee. In November 2021, Keys appeared on the covers of Marie Claire in the United Kingdom and the United States, and Glamour Germany. Keys performed of songs from the album at the Mercedes-EQ Concert Experience, held at Mercedes-Benz Manhattan on November 6, 2021. On November 7, Keys appeared on 1Xtra’s R&B Show on BBC Radio 1Xtra in the United Kingdom. As part of SiriusXM’s and Pandora’s Small Stage Series, Keys performed songs from the album at Apollo Theater on November 11, 2021. The show was the first of several intimate concert appearances staged by Keys during the unveiling of the new material. On December 1, Keys performed songs from the album at an intimate concert at Superblue art gallery during Art Basel in Miami Beach, Florida. On December 6, Keys appeared on Complex’s 360 With Speedy Morman to talk about the album. The album will be further promoted by an album release party featuring an exclusive interview and performances by Keys in collaboration with iHeartRadio. On December 10, Keys performed a concert at Expo 2020 in Dubal, United Arab Emirates.

Critical reception
According to Metacritic, the album received generally favorable reviews, with an overall score of 65 out of 100. It comprised 62% positive reviews and 37% mixed reviews, with no negative reviews.
Dan Cairns of The Times wrote that the album is “powerful reminder of just how original an artist she is” and added that “tracks such as Daffodil Mix 2/Daffodils, Skydive, Is It Insane and Nat King Cole point up to Keys’ bracingly and often irreverent approach to music-making”.

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