Local R&B songstress makes hip-hop hits her own.
Over the last few weeks, local R&B singer/songwriter Andreena (formerly known as Andreena Mill) has received a fair bit of attention with her “Hip Hop Chronicles” series of YouTube videos. The series has Andreena re-imagining a different hip hop hit every week, usually turning them into mellowed-out, stripped-down, jazzy piano-and-vocals numbers. Her new, free EP, The Covers: Volume 1, has her first four “Chronicles” recordings, plus one extra cover, together in one package.
The Covers works for a couple of key reasons. One is that this isn’t being done ironically or as a lark. While she may primarily work in R&B, Andreena legitimately loves hip hop. She’s worked with everyone from Drake to Saigon, providing hooks for dozens of hip hop songs. The other reason for Covers’ success is song selection. The original versions of Future’s “Turn on the Lights” and Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” are already half-sung, while Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” has a strong vocal hook. All three provide a strong jumping off point for Andreena’s vocal interpretations.
Her version of “Turn on the Lights” takes the romantic undertones of the original and shines them until the song verges on ballad territory. “Pursuit of Happiness,” on the other hand, gets transformed from a stoner anthem about unreached potential, and becomes an uplifting hymn.
The oddest choice on the album is her version of “Trinidad James’ All Gold Everything” (which you can listen to above). The original features no singing and is simultaneously both hyper aggressive and mind-alteringly slow. In some ways, though, this cover is the one that works the best. If we’re being brutally honest Trinidad James is a rapper who’s high on charisma, but low on technical skill. As a result, “All Gold Everything” is almost a blank canvass for Andreena. She’s free to add vocal flourishes where she wants, and can make the instrumental her own. Save for the lyrics, it’s almost a completely different song.
As a bonus, she throws in a version of Big Sean’s “Guap,” done over the original instrumental. It’s the truest cover on the album, but it’s also the most hands-in-the-air fun. Andreena does a great job of adding vocal depth to the song while retaining its rowdy, victorious vibe.
At this point in her career, Andreena is probably best known for providing hooks on other people’s songs. Ironically, it’s taken an EP of covers for her to prove, once and for all, that she’s an amazing artist in her own right.