Alicia Keys returns to basis with double album

Double album features reimagining of hits

Alicia Keys released Keys on December 10, 2021. Fans were delighted that each version of the original song was reimagined and remastered into a hip hop album. So, it is a dual album, showcasing Keys’ strength as a vocalist and lyricist, and also turning each of the 13 tracks into a danceable song.

Alicia is giving fans what they want, which is Keys to vibe to and Keys to dance to. Energizing tracks featured on Unlocked can easily be made and played at the club, while the original album slows things down and gives the original Keys that everyone knows and loves.

The aptly named Keys features the piano as the artists’ home base, where she is in her natural element. Fans comment that it sounds like the old Alicia and she sounds the same, which longtime listeners will surely appreciate. This is because the original is all Alicia, which is how she started.

Her eighth album, Keys, first and foremost, is a back-to-basics record, where she is free to be her musical self, which may be her singing behind a piano naturally. Also, she can emphasize her hip hop roots, with beats and tracks that tell more than one story.

The double album is a nod to her producer-husband Swiss Beatz, who redoes half of the original tracks with his hip hop inspiration. The album is a love album and it goes into every element of the emotion.

Overall, Keys is a feel-good album, and fans can enjoy it in more than one way. Being undefinable in this way lets Keys stretch her musical muscles and explore new territory while still be comfortable in what she does best.

While Keys wrote on every song, she welcomed the input and help of musical legends. Her co-writers span nearly every genre, like country music writer Natalie Hemby and R&B legend Raphael Saadiq. Mike WiLL Made-It was in charge of most of the hip hop remixes on the album. The producer has worked with tracks by Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, and Kendrick Lamar.

The musicianship of the original album features light compositions and mellow instrumentation. The Unlocked version helps elevate the tracks to another level, with rich production that isn’t shy to explore new musical ground. This double album has something that everyone will like, spanning many different genres and piecing together elements from the two decades of Alicia’s career.

The Unlocked version has collaborations with rappers that add their own lyrical twists to the original songs. Pusha T adds verses to “Plentiful” and “Playful Flowers” along with Carlile, who Keys scored a Grammy nomination with on her track “A Beautiful Noise.” On Nat King Cole, Lil Wayne raps and adds a new introduction that takes the song to another level. Most of the remastering adds new melodies or layers, but none of it is completely redone.

Keys, the original album, features Alicia as she is, a standout solo artist, which is how she came onto the scene and how many listeners remember her. Unlocked shows her dynamic versatility and fantastic collaboration skills, which have created many memorable songs through the years.

While most of the songs on the Unlocked portion of the album are remixes of songs on the original, there are two that are all new. “LALA” features Swae Lee with cool, retro big band samples. “Come for Me” is a collaboration with Khalid and Lucky Daye.

Overall, it’s an easy listening album with plenty of cool auditory elements to dive into that make listeners want to play songs on repeat. It’s mellow yet energetic, showing the strengths of Keys as well as her music producer husband on a powerful double album offering.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: