Cheri Dennis - In and Out of Love (2008)

Cheri Dennis
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The stakes are high because everyone has been expecting a stellar debut from Cheri Dennis, the reigning princess of Bad Boy Records. She's been signed to the label since 2001. Her labelmates, Cassie and Janelle Monae (Bad Boy's most recent signee hailing from Atlanta) seem to have promising futures. Cheri, though, has the biggest hill to climb and her debut album In And Out of Love attempts to solidify her royal position, which was once held by the super-harmonious Faith Evans.

The stakes are high because everyone has been expecting a stellar debut from Cheri Dennis, the reigning princess of Bad Boy Records. She's been signed to the label since 2001. Her labelmates, Cassie and Janelle Monae (Bad Boy's most recent signee hailing from Atlanta) seem to have promising futures. Cheri, though, has the biggest hill to climb and her debut album In And Out of Love attempts to solidify her royal position, which was once held by the super-harmonious Faith Evans.

In true Bad Boy fashion, Diddy has the first word on the intro to In And Out of Love. With a back-to-basics R&B approach, Cheri sings about the ever-complex exploration of true love. "I Love You" breaks the ice as the lead song to the album and "Portrait of Love" follows suit. Both singles glorify the sunny side of falling madly in love with a significant other. Rodney Jerkins and Timbaland lend their evolving talents to In And Out of Love by producing "Remind You" and "Act Like You Know," respectively. But it becomes crystal clear that the production is often only as good as the performer. Cheri lacks the passion to transcend the melody of these mid-tempo love songs, and her unassuming interpretation ultimately gets buried.

In And Out of Love doesn't rise to the standards set by many mainstream R&B artists today (Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, etc). It's sound simply plays it too safe and lacks artistic depth. Quite possibly this project was recorded in 2001 when Cheri was initially signed to Bad Boy, so it may have spent a better part of the new millennium sitting on a shelf. A few minor tweaks and it was given an official date of release. Unfortunately, the landscape of music for an artist like Cheri (who's not heavy on ringtone sales) is more demanding. She'll get lost in this here-today-gone-tomorrow music industry. Maybe her sophomore effort will be her saving grace and prove that she's indeed a true star on the rise.

 
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