The 25-year-old newcomer shares her impressive debut album.
Born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida but based across the state in Miami, Cherele is very familiar with a part of the world that many consider to be paradise. On her debut album, Paradise Lost, she gives her own spin on that oft-referenced title. “For me it represents the allure of a beautiful environment and the illusions that come with that,” she explains.
After being introduced to the piano at three, Cherele came to hip-hop the way many have: through an older sibling. “I was just that annoying kid sister to my brother, sneaking in his room, going through his CDs and shit and just vibing,” she recalls. “I had always loved writing as a kid, so I just started writing terrible 16s at nine-years-old and spitting them to my brother and friends.”
While she names Hot Boyz, Eminem and Biggie as early influences, Paradise Lost draws inspiration from beyond those rap titans. The first half of the album finds Cherele brash and bold (sample lyric: “I stuff coke up in your nose / ain’t this what you chose?”) over sinister, Southern rap tracks, relying on “good diction mixed with addiction” (as she raps on ‘t i m i n g’).
Paradise Lost takes a turn with ‘vi$ions’, a song that sounds like an offcut from an early N.E.R.D. album, or Neptunes-era Kelis. Cherele is “half-bionic and half-psychotic” as she pursues a potential lover, teasing (and negging) a guy in the club: “Don’t take this as an insult / look like you like getting sinful / and you matching up my tempo / I mean, you’re cool.”
The following tracks dabble in different sounds: there’s the smoked-out jazz-rap of ‘Sweet Jones’, the laidback ‘my channel’ (feature Awful’s Father), the 2pac-meets-K.R.I.T. ‘fish with grits’ and the synth-swirled bonus track ‘magic hour’ with Betty Dawl. “I’m sharing some of my experiences and thoughts,” she explains, “how you interpret them is entirely up to you.”