Release Date: September 28, 2022
Genre: R&B, Pop
Label: XO Records / Republic Records
Lydia Habtemariam, better known mononymously as Chxrry22 [pronounced Cherry], was born and raised by Ethiopian immigrants in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto, Ontario. Her stage name of Chxrry22 has a longer meaning to what she divulged, but a quick explanation from Chxrry, she shared: "Overall, it was my finsta name, and there was a point in time I thought I had to change my name, so when they asked me I was like, 'Cherry.' And then I didn't end up having to change it, but I had grown to love it 'cause it was a month of me talking about it. Also, growing up, I'd be like, 'If I was a stripper, my name would be Cherry," she jokes. Chxrry was always known as the girl who could sing by her friends, family, and peers -even getting little gigs at weddings and other events by her mother via word of mouth. "My mom's crazy, and she would be like, 'She will sing Happy Birthday at birthday parties,' or 'She'll sing at your wedding or sing at this.' She would pass around a hat, and people would give us money," she shares. It all started at a young age as both of her parents were in church choirs, so she ultimately was singing a lot when she was younger. "Music was always around, we all sang, and over time it was like, 'Oh, she can actually really sing.' My grandparents realized it early and then, 'Oh, she likes to sing in front of people.'" But she never fully visualized the possibilities of a career in music until she put her music online in 2017 -and she went viral. After gaining some traction from a few singles, she packed up her things and hit the road, moving to Atlanta, where she began recording her original songs. "Later on in life, I guess it paid off," she reflects.
Sometime later, she signed her first major label deal with XO Records after gaining the attention of fellow Canadian The Weeknd and label co-founder Amir "Cash" Esmailian. Chxrry is the first female artist signed to The Weeknd's label, and it put a lot into perspective for her as Chxrry is fully confident in her purpose as an artist and being a voice of empowerment for young women. "I'm grateful to even have this opportunity. It's not something I take lightly, and if I can be the door for other women, then to me, that's so cool. I never want to be the muse. I just want to open the door for other women. I think that's the coolest part of being the first female on this label and that I understand my responsibility, and I'm honoured. I just want other women to get these same opportunities. That's the most rewarding part," she echoes.
Earlier this year, Chxrry released a couple of singles that garnered the attention of many, and it led to the ultimate release of her much-anticipated debut EP, The Other Side. The project was written and recorded in a little makeshift studio at the house of Atlanta-based producer Sensei Bueno (Snoh Aalegra, Dreamville, Carole & Tuesday). "He [Bueno] lived down the street from me. So we met through a mutual friend. We clicked instantly. We found out we lived down the street from each other, so he was like, 'Come to my house, I basically have a mini studio.' One day led to a month of me just going over there and us working on this project. It was very brother and sister vibe. It was very natural and easy," she recollects. While the majority of the EP was produced by Sensei Bueno, "Wasteland" was co-produced by Sonic Major (Future, Don Toliver) and "Do it Again" was solely produced by LordQuest (Juice WRLD, ScHoolboy Q).
The seven tracks that make up The Other Side as a whole deal with coming to terms with duality. It's about how anybody can be the villain and the victim in certain situations. Every lyric Chxrry writes is self-reflective, yet in some ways, it's slightly mysterious in some form. All the lyricism from Chxrry is always some kind of story from her own perspective of things she has done or has had happen to her. "I overshare in my music, so I'm a little bit more mysterious in other ways. I'm just naturally like that," she confesses. Additionally, some of her songwriting and oversharing have landed her in hot water. "I have no filter. I have always been like that. It's gotten me into some trouble, but in music, it works out 'cause the more you share, the more you know, and the more the person feels connected to you," Chxrry continues. Chxrry also shared how her songwriting and lyricism feels to her: "Songwriting just feels like me talking out loud, and I put it on paper and make it rhyme. It just feels like a Facetime call like, 'Bitch, guess what the fuck I did!' And you just write it and put it into a song." On the two tracks "Do It Again" and "Us," Chxrry discusses a yearning for an old love, while she conveys the battles she has fought within herself on the tracks "Alone" and "Wasteland." Whereas the two main singles off The Other Side, "The Falls," paints a picture of a story that addresses accountability, and on the song "Call Me," she talks about herself not wanting to commit to anyone or anything beyond the present day. "I just wanted my music to be an escape and something people can listen to and find some kind of closure or some kind of peace from my own situations," Chxrry shares. On The Other Side, Chxrry unapologetically shares vulnerable, emotional, and outspoken stories in the seven songs. It's right at the forefront of her lyricism -as she expresses balancing her own needs and detailing a turbulent relationship. All while prioritizing her prospering career as a musical artist. Being so open on her debut it's something that was quite intimidating for her while writing The Other Side. "It's like, 'Fuck, I don't want to be judged,'" she asserts. "You know people in real life, so it's like, 'Is this person going to say something?' But I think overall, people can respect it and can respect that I'm an artist as well. All I can talk about is my real life, and rather people agree with it or not, it's the truth. It's really what happened." Sonically, The Other Side is quite the R&B record at the forefront. However, it's crystal clear Chxrry took advantage of the fact R&B is a much more evolved genre than it once was -as most genres have become. "R&B has changed so much over the years. Even though it has kept some of its old essence, it's not what it used to be. The cadences are so different," Chxrry acknowledges. On these seven tracks, she blends the core R&B sound with characteristics of pop and subtle notes of softer rock elements. There wasn't entirely a distinct sound Chxrry wanted to go for the EP, just this rough idea, and as the project continued, the sound she and Bueno settled on came naturally. "Funny enough, I literally made a playlist of what I wanted called 'Production,' and I sent it to Bueno. When we were finished making the project, I was like, 'Wow! This really sounds like the playlist.' And he was like, 'What playlist?' I was like, 'I sent you a playlist.' And he said, 'Well, I didn't even hear it,'" she reminisces. "It goes to show how naturally in sync we were." The EP's title track, "The Other Side," has a nuanced acoustic guitar that drapes her buttery vocals and '80s synths. "The Falls" features a strong rock influence with a drum line that showcases a snare that snaps like a smack to the face. "Call Me" features a more blatant R&B feel to the core sound of the track, and with Chxrry's sultry falsetto and the bassy beat, it's an absolute standout. "Us" is the track on The Other Side that really showcases her songwriting abilities by blending elements of R&B, pop, and rock. It's equally all three, and the hybrid style will catch any listener's attention. On "Alone," Chxrry delivers a very interesting track -solely because it's eerily reminiscent of Jhené Aiko. Without question, "Alone" is still unapologetically Chxrry, but the influence is as clear as day.
You can now stream The Other Side on your preferred music streaming service.
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