Keyshia Cole was born in Oakland, California to Francine "Frankie" Lons on October 15th, 1981. Her mother's friends Yvonne and Leon Cole Jr. adopted her when she was two years old. She acknowledges Leon Cole as her father, as stated on her show The Way It Is. Keyshia is one of seven children. Her older brother is Oakland-based rapper Nutt-So. Cole's first experiences with the music industry began at age 12, when she recorded with MC Hammer and 2Pac. Cole was inspired by her grandmother to further pursue her career, so she left the Bay Area with a rented car and a thousand dollars and moved to Los Angeles, California. Keyshia had written an early version of "Love" and performed it in front of record executives Ron Fair and Jimmy Lovine in June/July 2002. She was then signed by the president of A&M Records, Ron Fair in December 2002. Cole then started to record her debut album. In 2004, Cole made her first solo appearance on the track "Never", taken from the Barbershop 2: Back in Business soundtrack with rapper Eve.