After a chance meeting at a party in NYC with Bad Boy Records' Sean "Diddy" Combs, singer Cheri Dennis has been no stranger to the music industry or the Bad Boy Family.
First appearing on rapper Mase's tracks, "No Matter What," "All I Ever Wanted" and "If You Want To Party" from his 1999 album Double Up, Cheri went on appear on several tracks from the label's lengthy catalog. Despite numerous credits under her belt, her long-awaited self-titled debut album was halted, untimately being pushed back several times.
Now after a several delays, management issues and label politics to match, Cheri Dennis is seemingly next up to bat with the long overdue release of In And Out of Love, which is finally set to hit stores February 2008.
In a landmark move, Bad Boy Records and iTunes have released the album exclusively through the Apple music store three full months before its physical release hits stores. This is noted as being the first-ever major label R&B album to receive an early digital release through iTunes. Available digitally since November of 2007, In And Out Of Love was trumpeted by the Rodney Jerkins producer single, "Remind You," as the iTunes Store's Single of the Week. To date, the track has already proven to be a hit, with nearly a quarter of a million free downloads thus far.
If a part of success is effort and time, then Cheri Dennis should be well on her way, in Bad Boy -- "can't stop, won't stop" -- fashion.
BallerStatus.com: Your deal with iTunes to release your music three months before your album dropped is considered to be an innovative move. What was the science behind making that happen?
Cheri Dennis: The fact that iTunes was interested in doing it with an urban project, which they really don't do too much of. It was just kind of like, "Lets just see how this works." It definitely left me open with a lot more exposure than I would have had coming out the gate. iTunes is worldwide, so a lot of people that are not familiar with my genre of music, now I get a whole new audience. So, I think it's cool that I get that exposure as a debut artist. The exposure for me is a great thing.
BallerStatus.com: What it was like to work with Timbaland?
Cheri Dennis: That was an experience. Timbaland was pretty easy to deal with. I went in, sang my part and he didn't make me sing over and over again. I guess that's the method to his madness. I guess that's why he's Timbaland. You know, sometimes you go in and they make you sing over and over and over again. But he has you come in, sing the part, he did his magic, and the rest is history. It was a very easy going session and the fact that he's Timbaland, of course, I was honored to work with him. I just tried to absorb some of that genius that he has. It was a relaxed session.
BallerStatus.com: During my research, I noticed a lot of your fans were wondering who produced your track, "Wrapped Around Me." Some people thought it was Timbaland or Missy.
Cheri Dennis: That track was produced by Missy, but it didn't make the album. The song is really old and has been on the internet for a long time, so when we had to scale down the album. We had so many records, but it just economically didn't make sense. Just in terms of timespan, it didn't make sense to keep a lot of the old records that had been on [leaked] on internet.
BallerStatus.com: Speaking of your tracks being leaked, were you disappointed when your first single "Portrait Of Love" was leaked on the internet before the album dropping and iTunes release?
Cheri Dennis: Um, actually that's the first time I've heard that. So, no... I guess I can't be disappointed by something I wasn't aware of. I didn't know it was leaked. Anytime I've heard it, it's been something for me and its been great exposure. So, I'm not sure if it had been leaked before it was supposed to have been heard.
For me, I know I'm an artist and I'm supposed to be so aware of who's bootlegging this and SoundScan that, but I try not to condition myself to live by statistics 'cause sometimes that just takes the creativeness away and the fun out of it. I mean, don't get me wrong, I try to be business-savy at all times, but I guess that's the balance and the line I have to walk. I'm an artist in that sense and it's definitely creativity and I just want people to have access to my music All the other stuff that comes with it, of course, I want to be rich and want to sell a lot of records, but my main focus is music. I try not to get wrapped up in those things, so I guess I got the memo last. (laughs)
BallerStatus.com: You sang the intro song, "Ou La La," to the popular MTV show "Making The Band 4." Did you notice a difference in your popularity and maybe attention from your record label after the success of the show?
Cheri Dennis: No, not necessarily in terms of the label. People didn't really know my face, so when people did finally make the connection, that's when I started to notice people being like, "Oh, you're the girl from that song." But not so much from that label. It's pretty much been the same from the label. When they're ready to move, they'll move. When they're not ready to move, things are the way they are, business as usual. It was more of just the audience that I've seen that popularity, but it wasn't like they had a face to go with that song. I just think it gained that exposure for my voice. Now that my album is coming out, in hindsight, they can go back and say, "Oh, that's the girl that sang that song." So, I didn't see a jump in popularity because I don't think people really made the connection because they didn't know what I looked like.
BallerStatus.com: You said that the label "will move when they're ready." Why did the album get pushed back and what were your feelings about that?
Cheri Dennis: The album got pushed back because it just needed an overhaul. It needed to be revamped. We had to take certain records off and put new records on. I was happy about that because "I Love You" was a great record and a great introduction to me, but like the album wasn't as strong as it could have been last July. So, for that simple fact, we took time to regroup. It wasn't only about the album. There were a lot of other changes that have been made in the last year. You know, I have new management. In terms of business, I had to restructure certain things, as well. I think it was a blessing that I had time off to get my whole entire project, not just the music part, in order. I'm not upset that I had to wait because I think if it came out last June or July. I wouldn't have been able to 100% support it. Certain records would have come out and I would have had my head down. So, I'm really proud of the album now and I'm excited that we took the year off and made it the way it supposed to be. I'm happy.
BallerStatus.com: As a female artist there are sometimes ridiculous pressures to maintain a certain image or weight. We saw Diddy on "Making The Band 4" speak to the ladies of Danity Kane about this issue and his large expectations. Is this something that you have to focus on as an artist?
Cheri Dennis: Definitely. You know, I try not to live by it. You got some people that be like, "You too skinny" or some people that are like, "You're overweight." If you live by what other people are saying about you, you're going to be going up and down. You kinda just have to find a balance for yourself and be cool with that and just maintain that. But there are definitely a lot of pressures, especially being a female artist and being watched and analyzed. It does become a little bit of pressure. But for me, I just kinda focus on the music. I think I just put pressure on myself because I want to look good and I know that eyes are on me. But I try not to take what people say I should look like too literal, because people have a lot of different comments. If you're changing for other people, you'll be changing all the time. But there is a lot of pressure to be thin or look a certain type of way or fit into a certain type of mold.
BallerStatus.com: You recently shot the "Portrait Of Love" video. What was the video concept?
Cheri Dennis: I think that when you hear the song, it gives you like a Prince-y, vanity type of retro feel and it's very grown and sexy. I don't think that the whole album is like that, but I think this particular song is grown and sexy. We got [Yung] Joc all dressed up and cleaned up well for us. It's like we played dress-up. And that's what it is. It's very sexy. Very grown. The clothes are very classy, upscale and sophisticated. It's not the overall theme of the album, but it just this one particular song, because it did have a grown and sexy feel to it. We didn't go so literally and just play on the grown and sexy feel to it.
BallerStatus.com: Some people have labeled you, "The Bad Girl Of Bad Boy." Do you think it's a correct description of yourself?
Cheri Dennis: I think that I can be whatever the mood calls for. I'm a chameleon -- sometimes I can be good and sometimes I can be a little bad girl. I think it just depends on my mood. Sometimes I can be very sweet, so I think it's whatever the setting is -- whatever it makes me feel like, that's what I am.