Jake Ewald is sifting through shells at the shore
In Fort Myers, Fla. there’s allegedly little to do besides rap and smoke. Some leave the city on sport’s scholarships, a lure that almost denied WR Nod Washington the chance to pen ringtone anthem “Shawty.” A crumpled postcard on the cover of Cherele’s Paradise Lost debut locates it away from the tourist beaches. Disillusioned with Florida-as-paradise notions, Cherele’s tape is heavy and humid. The beats from LeMieuX and Parris Pierce are thick, bass-heavy, and animalistic (birds and lions make appearances on “coolin” and “4ever”).
For Cherele at her most comfortable, see “wuz goin?” In the spaces between the trap hats, Cherele’s flow turns staccato, doubling and weaving around the beat, her voice its own rhythm section. “my channel” shows off a sly R&B side, but devolves into a scattered Father verse. Ultimately, some of the lyrics lack specificity, the boasts can feel anonymous, the styles drift from Pharrell (“vi$ions”) to UGK (“sweet jones”). That said, the hooks are there, as is the promotional savvy.
Cherele comes from PayUp! Game, a Florida crew consisting of ELLZ, André DeSaint, Mouf., and production duo the Silence Killers. The crew has an impeccable web presence—sites for each member, music videos, crew-designed album art, an online T-shirt shop. Each rapper dropped a tape this year, staggered monthly releases indicating that someone is thinking about marketing from a wide angle.
ELLZ has the crew’s biggest track, the Parris Pierce-produced “Eat Dawg Eat.” Don’t neglect “Bullshittin” or “Frinatra” either; ELLZ has a big voice and a knack for a well-timed pause that vaults into a booming hook. Where Cherele drifts past the violence around her city, ELLZ dives into it, lyrics bouncing between perpetually stoned and strapped. The crew is raw, but the business sense and talent are there; invest now or pay up later.