Cole is a multiplatinum star who had a hit reality show and recently became a mother. But the Oakland diva's fourth album is by no means a celebration: Cole is a heroine who thrives off tales of conflict, betrayal and survival. Her voice is as grit-flecked as ever, chewing through blaring beats and going pound-for-pound for ferocity with fellow bruiser Nicki Minaj ("I Ain't Thru"). It's not all fisticuffs — "Sometimes" is a wistful ballad built around acoustic guitar and finger snaps — but Cole is at her best when she's slugging.
From The Archives Issue 1122: January 20, 2011