After having a sneak preview last year, we finally get to hear the full product now in 2016. How do you make a mixtape as good as “BLACK 2 THE FUTURE”? You put together an easy going, soulful voice like Cheena Black Monrow and a collection of songs to treasure and inspire wonder. These twelve numbers find Cheena stretching her musical wings into varying sonic territories. It’s a brave piece of work in many ways and shows significant development in her writing and singing.
From the opening track “What About Me” with its dense, dreamy but hard-hitting drum arrangement; through the quirky piano, crisp snare/hi-hat and ripe bass accompaniment of “Playing Me” produced by Freeway, with its gloriously nuanced vocal performance; the deliciously sensual rhythms of “Are You Willing”; the jazzy late-night neo-soul of “This Is Fate” and the haunting stripped-down passion of “Feel 4 You” (surely one of her loveliest inventions!), Ms Cheena Black doesn’t lose focus for a moment.
“In This World” produced by Dan Morze, with its powerful abrasive percussive interjections and harmonies seems to be entirely coherent with the questing spirit of this project, as is “Don’t Lead Me On”, produced by Crim The Dark Executioner. That same palpable spirit of musical adventure is also evident in the closer, “Addicted 2Your Love”.
What a truly beautiful voice Cheena has – distinctive, confident and full of subtly articulated emotion. At every turn it is an instrument which finds new color and timbre, the better to articulate her finely-wrought lyrics and melodies. The quality doesn’t dip for a moment throughout the mixtape. Whether in the jazzy inflections, the louder, angular stabbings or the sublimely breathy soulful cadences, we are constantly treated to the dazzlingly understated evidence of Cheena Black Monrow’s craft.
Cheena’s voice is amazing, delicate when it needs to be, and powerful when emphasis is warranted; distinctive in an overcrowded and sometimes unexceptional marketplace. You’ll never get the feeling that she uses twelve notes when one or two will do, because she never over-sings any song. Usually it’s the melodies that grabs our interest first, but because Cheena is a marvelous wordsmith, take the time to really listen to what she is singing about.
I first heard Cheena Black Morrow sometime last year, on her mixtape preview, and I’ve been looking out for the full product ever since. I had very high expectations and “BLACK 2 THE FUTURE” doesn’t disappoint. The mixtape is a joy to listen to from start to finish, with so many good and well written songs. While some of the tracks are instant hits there are others which will grow over time. Overall, the mixtape is gritty, it’s sexy, it’s soulful, and it’s mature – it’s urban music at its best.
MORE ABOUT: Jeannette Echeverria, born May 13 and better known as Cheena Black, is a Hispanic American singer-songwriter, recording engineer and graphic designer. Cheena Black has been plying her craft as a hip-hop, R&B and soul singer from the streets of Brooklyn since the age of 5. She has done work with Divine Records which featured other well-known artists like Dmx, Grand Puba and E-Smooth.