DAR Music: Alicia Keys' The Diary of Alicia Keys

1. Harlem's Nocturne
2. Karma
3. Heartburn
4. If I Was Your Woman/Walk On By
5. You Don't Know My Name
6. If I Ain't Got You
7. Diary
8. Dragon Days
9. Wake Up
10. So Simple
11. When You Really Love Someone
12. Feeling U, Feeling Me (Interlude)
13. Slow Down
14. Samsonite Man
15. Nobody Not Really

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-I was once enamored with Alicia Keys. I know, that's a funny way to start an article, but I mean that. I remember her first album and I liked her, but it was her 2003 release that really garnered my attention. Showcasing a new found sensual side, a more raw and honest emotional complexity, The Diary of Alicia Keys would catapult her to new heights. Each song was special in its own right, but the singles still carry the album itself, as they were just so good. Today, the team gathers to talk this album and how it had an impact. Let's get into it.

As I was writing this, I saw something horrific. I'll spare the details.

To get my mind off what I just saw (read: brain bleach), I decided to check out The Diary of Alicia Keys again. It's an album that blends neo-soul sensibilities with pop sensibilities to make a pretty decent album. Diary feels equal parts new school and old school, without pandering to either train of thought. My main gripe with it, like some other critics, is how the second half of the album kind of just...exists. It's not "bad," but it, again, is just kind of a thing without really being all that distinguishing. It's what keeps me from saying this album is Alicia's magnum opus.

I feel that Alicia Keys has the capability to surpass Songs in A Minor. And while Diary was a great attempt at doing so...it misses ever so slightly because of its second half. It's coming, though. I feel it.

I remember 2001 very well. That was the year the “Jay vs. Nas” beef would leave the hiphop world divided in an eternal debate about which song was better “Takeover” or “Ether” and on the other side the R&B world was about to be taken over but in an entirely different way. June 2001, one of the most beautiful and talented ladies would emerge and release her debut single “Fallin”. This would be the very first exposure we would get to her balanced, smooth, soulful and sultry, jazz infused vocals as well as her mastery of the piano. She was definitely multi-faceted, demonstrated range and created such a refreshing R&B sound. She would release her debut album “Songs in A Minor” shortly after the release of her single which would result in tremendous fan reception. I’m so thankful for the success of that one because it would serve as the catalyst for her to record yet another album. 2003 was the year we would see “The Diary of Alicia Keys” and I think at that point it was safe to say she was about to take over R&B.

I'm not even going to get into the number of awards she would go on to win or copies sold but trust that it was record breaking! “The Diary Of Alicia Keys” truly has everything, since Keys had a hand in writing the majority of the songs AND being on the production side of each track, I think is safe to say she weaved in pieces of herself in this project. The title was very fitting as each song would become melodic and vocal diary entries. Conceptually it’s brilliant especially for an R&B artist and that became evident in the success. Of course, all of the singles off this album were fantastic and gained the album much acclaim, but all the tracks showcased the vocals we had all come to expect from her and she definitely delivered. Now is this a perfect album? Honestly, not at all. I think where it comes up short is this is a “mood album”, meaning it’s perfect for certain moments and moods, so this would never be an album to listen to frequently(unless it fits your mood often), but definitely a perfect choice to feed emotions, whether good or bad. Some would go as far as saying this lacked the maturity that her previous album had. I agree on some level, but I think that's only because she was so unfiltered with this one. Not to mention, she had only been in the industry a couple years, so she wasn’t as seasoned and was still trying to find her niche. Not to worry, Alicia Keys would be on the radar of pretty much everyone in the industry and would later appear on hip hop tracks and even cross genres to alternative/pop. It's definitely safe to say, she found that niche.

This was really just the beginning of the immense amount of talent Keys would bring to music. She would repeatedly perform at award shows and grace us with her beautiful voice and accompanying grand piano instrumentals. She is the epitome of class and exudes femininity and poise in everything she does. I think the maturity that she (slightly) lacked at the time of this album was displayed in future albums. She is and will always be a favorite of any fan of R&B.

One of Alicia Keys' albums, The Diary of Alicia Keys, is one that I think you constantly listen to and you can relate to so much. You can't help but even sing it and you're not going to get judged from anyone because they're also singing along. It's been over 10 years since the album was released and it's still so relevant to today's music.

The power this album had to get you in touch with your feelings was huge. You would think about those past lovers and then even think about your current love. If you made a mistake, certain songs on this album would make you think about your past. "If I Ain't Got You," is one of my favorite songs. It's so relatable. The interesting thing too, is that this album has music videos that still made sense and fit (You Don't Know My Name being another classic video).

You can tell she poured her heart and soul in this album.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-I think this was the last Alicia Keys release that captivated me. She had more success after, but this is her best to me personally. Her debut album was great and raw, but I felt lyrically and production wise, this was her strongest effort. It's raw, aggressive, and yet it's emotional and honest in the same regard. Hopefully, Alicia can make an album to rival her first two, but I don't know. This album was her breakthrough on a higher level and it's still a great listening experience almost 13 years later.



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