Detroit, Michigan artist, Ché, brings us her latest EP, CHÉNGES, where she takes us on a rollercoaster ride of personal growth and expression and focuses on themes of freedom and change, either for herself or society as a whole.
The first track of this EP “Seed” doesn’t immediately begin with music. Instead, it begins with a touch of some audio from behind the scenes. It doesn’t seem to be staged – the listener hears laughter and a rough freestyle of upcoming lyrics. This unfiltered snapshot hints at this EP being real, personal, and open. When the first verse hits, Ché sings, “Woke up this a-morning and I’m feeling so stressed/ Yesterday was sunny but today I got wet (oh no).” Later in the track, she instead sings, “Woke up this a-morning and I’m feeling my best/ Yesterday was pouring but today I feel blessed (fo’ sho),” showing that certain days will be better than others, but that the negative days don’t take away from the good days. The song has a positive vibe to it, accompanied by a summery guitar, which gives the track a relaxing atmosphere and a sense that everything will be okay in the end.
“The imagery for CHÉNGES was really set to have this eerie vibe, but after going through some of the shots for the cover and the track-list, I wanted to take a different direction. The cover of the EP really gives me a ‘deep thinker, conflicted person, type vibe,’ says Ché. “But the track-list imagery gives me a ‘breaking free from all conflicting situations and thoughts, type vibe.’ I think displaying this type of imagery is so important nowadays, because there’s different forms of slavery. You have physical slavery, mental slavery, economic slavery, spiritual slavery and the list goes on and on.”
Throughout the EP, Ché does not shy away from being as honest as possible and lets the listener in on what she is trying to preach. The theme of trying to change one’s life and experiencing the ups and downs that comes with an adjustment is weaved throughout the four tracks. Even the title tracks and their order immediately indicate something to the listener: “Seed,” “Root,” “Stem,” and “Leaf,” and represent an element of growth. The title of the EP itself, CHÉNGES (changes), even shows this progression.
“Most of the lyrics throughout the EP started off by me just free-styling while driving, sitting in my room, or in the shower. Although I had been working onCHÉNGES for about 2 years, whenever I hear the lyrics today, they’re still as piercing as they were when I first recorded them,” comments Ché. “Sometimes an artist can be so consumed by their own music to the point where it doesn’t hit you the same anymore. So its truly a blessing to still feel moved by 2-year-old lyrics.”
Another track that highlights the ups and downs of personal growth is “Stem,” which focuses on drinking specifically. The instrumentation is slow and very laid-back, with a smooth bass and a variety of electronic synths. Intoxication is a topic throughout the song, in two different ways. First, Ché warns about the misery surrounding drinking and alcoholism. In the first half of the song she sings, “My friends worry/ They be telling me to slow down” to show how people around her are affected. Eventually Ché passionately articulates just how much people are affected by drinking: “Intoxication on every corner/ The morgue is waiting/ For us to meet with our maker and play the game of Satan/ Pollute our temples/ It’s detrimental, too many wasted/ We wreck our mentals and demons say ‘You’ve been hella patient.’”
In the second half of “Stem,” Ché describes feeling intoxicated in a more invigorated sense, as shown in the lyrics “I’m barely drinking I’ve been planking on a small cloud (intoxicated).” She shows a lot of personal growth and a newfound appreciation for her work in the studio and life in this uplifting track.
“I wanted the production throughout the EP to be very organic, just like the lyrics. We didn’t use any samples on the EP, although tracks like “SEED” reminds a lot of people of Lauryn Hill’s “If I Ruled The World,” but that’s only because of the hook, not necessarily the production,” says Ché. “I had my producer ALI, my sister and engineer Jaye Prime, and my homie Adam come through and do their own thing when it came to the production. I gave a little direction, but essentially, I wanted them to play whatever note(s) that were placed in their hearts, just like like I did for the lyrics throughout the EP.”
Ché also addresses the need for change for the nation and offers listeners a taste of this in tracks like “Seed,” where she sings, “But if I rule the world/ I’d free all my sons/ Black afros and curls/ We could all be one,” as a wish for freedom from racism.
A track where Ché really gets political is in “Root,” which tackles the injustice against African American people in the United States such as police brutality, specifically the case of Sandra Bland. Ché tears into the media’s unfair representation of the events in lyrics like “Just cut the news off/ Okay, look, now hold on/ Maybe keep that news on/ And let them demonstrate how they portray us so wrong.” Her voice sounds frustrated and exasperated, wishing for some sort of change and improvement of the current political climate.
Ché frequently imagines how she could impact the world throughout this EP. As she ponders what would happen if she ruled the world in “Seed,” her final track “Leaf” also touches on somewhat of the same theme. The lyrics, “Bet I could change the world if I stop running” acts as an overall realization about what she should be doing to make these changes happen. The track starts with hard-hitting piano chords that set the intensity for the track. Her quick rapping mirrors the thoughts racing through her head as she raps, “I can’t be a person making this worse/ I came in this earth/ And came with a purpose,” realizing that she has to work to make all this change happen.
CHÉNGES is not only an expression of personal growth, but a passionate and compelling take on issues in society today.