Keyshia Cole

One of the more genuine urban songstresses to emerge in the 2000s, Keyshia Cole worked her way up the industry ladder diligently yet quickly, making her major-label debut in 2004 at age 21. Born on the other side of the California Bay -- the often tough and troubled streets of Oakland -- Cole aspired from an early age to make music her life, so much so that she started working the angles while still a preteen. For instance, she did some recording with fellow Bay Area resident MC Hammer way back in the day, when she was only 12 or so. Her singing aspirations really began to take flight during the early 2000s, however. In particular, she sang on Messy Marv's "Nubian Queen" remix in 2001, and Tony! Toni! Toné! member Dwayne Wiggins featured her on his soundtrack to the film Me & Mrs. Jones, also in 2001.