Interview: Cheri Dennis Talks “Go Blue” Movement, New Look & Rebirth in Music, Moving on from Bad Boy
YouKnowIGotSoul caught up with former Bad Boy artist Cheri Dennis to talk about her new look, her “Go Blue” movement, other artists biting her hair styles, her rebirth in music, why she goes by Cheri Coke as well, what to expect from her music wise in the future, how she was originally discovered by Diddy, any regrets she had in her time on the label, and more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk to me about the “Go Blue” movement and what it means to you.
Cheri Dennis: The “Go Blue” thing is really just about being yourself and being free to be exactly who you are. If you want to walk around with blue hair or pierce your cheeks like I have mine *Laughs*, if you want to be really normal, that’s how you want to be, straight laced. Just feeling comfortable with who you want to be. I feel like in my last situation, it was no one’s fault *Laughs*, but I just really wasn’t in the position to do some of the things that I wanted to do or to creatively go the places that I wanted to go. Now that I’m free to do that, my hair is blue but before that it was a bunch of different colors. That’s what it’s just really about, self expression, being able to be exactly who you are, whoever that may be.
YKIGS: You’re sending a strong message here to other artists who might be in a similar position to what you were in on your previous situation where you couldn’t be yourself. Do you feel there are other artists in this industry who can’t be themselves in the position they are in?
CD: I don’t know anyone specifically, but I’m sure there are other artists who want to go somewhere else musically, maybe want to go somewhere else with their look or image, because it’s a very image driven business. I’m sure there are some real true artists out there that probably want to do other things and maybe they feel like their fan base might not get it. So I’m sure there are a lot of artists out there who feel some of the same things that I’ve felt and are not free to do exactly what they want to do creatively.
YKIGS: Have you felt that your fans and music fans in general have embraced your new style and the whole movement?
CD: Yea they’ve been pretty receptive and I’ve got a lot of positive feedback. I don’t know that I’ve gotten any negative comments believe it or not, just maybe not much in comparison to all of the good feedback that I’ve got. I think people were more like “This is cool, we finally get to hear more of you, we’re seeing more of you.” I don’t think it’s ever been like “What is she doing?” I think it’s been more like they’re happy to see more of me because I don’t think people really got a chance to see a lot of me. I had two records out and people liked my music, but as far as having a huge fan base, I really don’t think people got to see a lot of me. So it’s been a really positive reception from my point of view.
YKIGS: Since you changed your name from Cheri Dennis to Cheri Coke, do you feel like some people might have lost track of you with the switch? Or were you just looking for a whole new rebirth of yourself as an artist?
CD: Hmmm….that’s a very good question. Well actually I really didn’t change my name, I’m still Cheri Dennis, I just thought that the transition that I made from being signed to Bad Boy for such a long time and finally being able to do something that I wanted to do, that was a nickname that people have always called me. So I just thought it would be fun to start using it. It’s more like an AKA it’s not so much I’m no longer Cheri Dennis, I don’t think that’s the approach I’m taking. I think it’s just more like it’s fun, it’s playful, I’m doing something new, I’m in a new space in life, I’m in a new space musically, I’m not signed to Bad Boy anymore. But when you speak in reference to me having this rebirth, I do feel like that. I do feel like Bad Boy was the only musical home that I had and that was a very long period in my life. So I do feel like I’m in a totally different space now and I feel really good. I’m thankful for the situation that I had before, I learned a lot, but I’m really happy in the place I’m at at the moment.
YKIGS: Your website address is PleaseDontBiteMyHair.com, what does that mean?
CD: *Laughs* Ah, well you know I’ve had a few hairstyles before that have popped up on other singers but maybe because I wasn’t as popular as them people feel that I haven’t been credited for those things. I don’t even look at it like that; people grab influences from all types of things. But I have been told and it has been said that I’ve had a couple of hairstyles that have been taken and I just thought it was fun, it’s another lighthearted thing. I have blue hair now, and if you look around you might see someone else with blue hair, I don’t know maybe you’ve seen them. It’s just been like just don’t bite my hair man *Laughs* you could pull inspiration but don’t bite, that’s not cool. I’m definitely bringing it with the new hair, and then when I get tired of that I’m going to color it something else.
YKIGS: Your bio mentions that your music will have classic sounds from the pop genre. Are you going to go with more of a pop sound in the future or are we going to hear the r&b we’re used to from you? What can we expect?
CD: I think you’re always going to hear an r&b undertone in my music. That’s just where I come from, I can do it really well and I’m a product of that culture as well as the hip hop culture. It’s just going to be a little different like an alternative/r&b/pop if I have to categorize it. I hate putting categories on my music. I just feel like there will always be that underlying r&b sound from me because that’s just what I’m based in. It’s just going to be different, there are going to be some other elements added into it. So I don’t care what people call it, I just want people to listen.
YKIGS: You just released the video for “Let’s Get Down” recently. Talk to me about the video.
CD: The song is a really sexy song and I don’t think anybody’s ever seen that side of me. I think with “I Love You” and “Portrait of Love” those are really safe and life songs. I don’t they ever got to see the sexy side of me. So I recorded the record and I just took a very literal stance with the video. It’s something that nobody’s ever seen me do.
YKIGS: What is your current label situation?
CD: I’m independent and I’m by myself but I’m actually entertaining a few things. I’m really happy right now going with the independent thing. Of course it’s harder because everything is funded by you because I don’t have an independent deal, I’m doing it on my own and I have my own company. The freedom is a lot better fit for me. Just in terms of having that machine of course sometimes it’s easier. But that is the situation I have now and I’m ready to put out a mixtape that will be out by July which is just a compilation of all of the music I’ve recorded since I left Bad Boy. So it’s like the transition and I just want people to see that transition and kind of set the tone for when I do release an album.
YKIGS: Who are you currently working with?
CD: Well right now I’m doing my own thing, I’m not working with any big name producers or anything like that. I just came back home to Ohio and just started to record. The situation that I’m entertaining right now is definitely someone big but I don’t want to put that out there right now because it’s not a definite situation and I’d just rather have it finalized before I put it out there.
YKIGS: You spent a lot of time on Bad Boy and earlier you mentioned you learned a lot of lessons on that label. What is the biggest thing you learned that will help you with your new situation?
CD: Take the negative things and turn them into a positive, instead of being reactive just be more proactive. A lot of times in my old situations when disappointments would happen I would kinda be reactive and kinda shut down instead of taking that and fueling that and fighting harder or taking things somewhere else. I think that’s what I would give to other artists; you might be in a situation where there’s so much to absorb and so much you can learn, but there are going to be ups and downs. So I wish I would have just taken in a lot more of the moment and used it to progress more from my standpoint as an artist and an individual. I wish I would have taken more of what I was around and absorbed it just a little bit more instead of letting some of the things make me retreat and shut down.
YKIGS: I’m a big fan of the history behind the music and I’d love to hear how you were originally discovered and signed by Bad Boy. How did they find you and bring you onto the label?
CD: Wow! I was actually signed to a production company of a guy by the name of Jimmy Cozier. One year he had a birthday party and he invited Puff to the party and Puff came, and I sat down right next to him and sang my ass off. He was impressed, and that’s how I got my deal. It was kind of a really impromptu situation.
YKIGS: With all of the time you spent on Bad Boy, do you wish things would have turned out differently or are you happy with the way things ended up?
CD: I don’t think I regret anything. I think that I learned a lot and I’m really thankful for the situation that I had there because it made me what I am right now. Had you not seen me on Bad Boy, you would not have known that Cheri Denis. It definitely was a stepping stone for where I’m going so I have to be thankful for that and I’m thankful to Puffy for that situation. Of course some things could have been better and of course I could have done some things better, but c’est la vie, that’s the past and I was given an opportunity to do something that millions of people would have loved to do every day. So I have to be thankful for that.
YKIGS: Anything you’d like to add?
CD: I just want to say thank you to anybody who supports my music and my movement, I’m appreciative of that. I’m humbled by it and I just want to thank the fans. Also, thank you for taking the time out to interview me!