Songs in A Minor (Reissue)

When the braided shorty burst out of the gate in 2001, boy bands were still boomin' and Destiny's Child defined bootyliciousness. With her classically trained voice and keyboard chops, Keys reintroduced the idea of a self-reliant (but still pop-friendly) R&B singer-songwriter – a type that stretches back to Stevie Wonder. In doing so, she crossed generational lines and ended up with an armload of Grammys. The outtakes, remixes and DVD with this reissue of her debut are nonessential, but the album has aged well – excepting a drum-machine beat or two, it feels timeless. "Fallin' " echoed Aretha's gospel-soaked Sixties ache, while the Top 10 follow-up, "A Woman's Worth," demanded R-E-S-P-E-C-T via slow and lush hooks. And the brash, bugged-out cover of Prince's B-side ballad "How Come You Don't Call Me" proves that, eight years before she sang about it with Jay-Z, Keys clearly had that Empire State of mind.

Listen to "Typewriter":

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From The Archives Issue 1136: August 4, 2011