You can still feel the pinch of your chin getting caught between the zipper of your winter jacket, and recall the skinned knees that bled through the bandaid. So I think shea butter happened to be on my mind.
ari lennox bmo instrumental – 30 Club Washington, DC June 14th, 2019 I.M.P.
Ari Lennox is R&B’s next star. LENNOX: I think a lot of people just feel free. Like, they feel like they’re living their best college life or, like, their best independent grown woman life, like, experiencing their own place for the first time or just being able to relate to dating someone who doesn’t have that much money or just rocking their curls and knowing, like, it’s beautiful, and natural is beautiful.
That’s deep as hell. You’re absolutely right. I think it’s a black thing. It’s definitely “she’s black and she’s soulful and she’s natural,” and people don’t know how to think outside of that. And mind you, I did listen to a lot of Erykah Badu, don’t get me wrong. But I’m also inspired by Missy Elliott, Tweet, SWV, 702, En Vogue, Anita Baker, Oleta Adams, Billy Ocean, D’Angelo, Bilal, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Omarion, Ciara, Ashanti, Petey Pablo, Kanye West, Common, Jazmine Sullivan, Chrisette Michele, and Floetry. I listened to all of them, studied all of them.
Yes, I’m definitely a perfectionist. I always felt like I needed one more record. But I learned over time that we have so many gems – we’ve been sitting on gems for years, like a lot of the songs I made three years ago, and then there’s a few songs I made early 2018. I feel like everything needs to happen in a certain way, because some songs wouldn’t have made the album if we’d dropped it any sooner.
Lennox is currently on tour with another breakout star, Lizzo, and said she’s grown tremendously in the three years since she flew out to see Cole for the first time. What this points to is a lot of the people who are making that comparison maybe haven’t listened to a ton of R&B singers.
In the performance, she first sings Up Late” and transitions to BMO.” Being a relatively new artist in the R&B scene, it was her first live late-night show appearance. So despite the fact that she was confidently rocking a bright orange fur cloak, Ari Lennox initially looked a bit nervous on stage. However, after she took a deep breath before performing all traces of stage fright vanished.
In Shea Butter Baby,” Ari Lennox flourishes into an artist that is deeply personal and relatable. She embraces her emotions and spills her sadness on the record. Before, Ms. Lennox marketed herself as the singer” from Dreamville, continuously trying to prove her singing ability on her mixtape, PHO.” Considering that Dreamville is made up of rappers, it’s easy to see why she did this: to create her own lane among her peers.
If you have a question for J. Cole , ask him directly. Don’t be coming to Ari Lennox (or Bas , Cozz , Omen, EarthGang , JID, Lute, or anybody else on Dreamville, for that matter) with your Cole-centric questions. At this point in her career, the songstress has one of the best albums of the entire year and we should be asking her about her Not about her boss. The Dreamville singer went off on a fan who tried to get her to pass along a message to Cole on her recent live-stream, hilariously shutting them down in epic fashion.
Ari Lennox’s sultry alto voice and piercing high notes are just a small part of what makes seeing her perform live in concert an unforgettable experience. The artist is both personal and performative, using her vivacious personality to interact with her fans like they are close friends. Her Shea Butter Baby tour has been set up like a black hair salon, and that kind of familiar, comfortable energy is exactly what Lennox is serving. Her fans are incredibly loyal and often sing along because they know every song word for word. Wear comfortable shoes to an Ari Lennox concert because you will end up on your feet and dancing at some point.
Everything is definitely one take, for sure. Usually, for ad lib purposes I’ll go back and add ad libs sometimes as late as a year later to a record. For instance, ‘Break Me Off’ – there are some ad libs on that track that I didn’t add until literally a month ago. Before it came out, I added some ad libs. Sometimes I’ll be sitting on my record, and I’ll be like: it sounds pretty done, but then I’ll realise I can add some more. A lot of these records the lead vocal is just one take, and we’re shot. I like it better that way because it’s a lot more believable.
With a new single, “BMO,” and her recently released debut album, Shea Butter Baby, out now, Ari sat down with iHeartRadio to discuss the inspiration behind her music, the genre of R&B, her love for Miss Badu, and a whole lot more.
LENNOX: Yeah, that was easy. Planet Fitness was the best job actually because I could do my little squats behind the desk. There was always time to just like mess around and just do whatever. It’s here, it’s here — it’s finally here. Ari Lennox dropped her debut album Shea Butter Baby on Tuesday and fans are hype AF.
Lennox has a soulful voice but also moments of angelic breathiness that makes her voice unmistakable. The R&B singer doesn’t like to be boxed in, musically or lyrically. She writes about all aspects of life, including friendships, relationships, politics and sex. Lyrically, her blunt style is a good match for Dreamville founder J. Cole. Musically, Lennox’s sound is a mix of Motown soul and R&B. The artist admits to being influenced by Minnie Riperton, Whitney Houston, Bilal, D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill, and you can hear bits of all these artists in her songs. Her genre-bending style caught and captured the attention of Cole and the Dreamville Team, but it has also allowed her to work with artists like Rihanna, Omen, Bas, Cozz, Ty Dolla $ign, Dreezy and Earth Gang. As Dreamville’s most recognized female artist, Lennox is positioning Cole to be a major player in the music industry.
There’s an energy on ‘Facetime,’ like, I want to show him I can write something really fast and it’s going to be great. It’s going to be so good,” Lennox said. Lennox’s grandmother was one of the first people to recognize her talent, but even with that encouragement, the Washington, D.C. native says that she’s always grown up feeling like an underdog.
Originally it was about anxiety, and it was me telling myself that I’m in control, and no matter how difficult the panic attack I’m experiencing I am in control of it. I’ll get through it, I’ll be fine. That is one side of what ‘Static’ means to me, it’s like a letter to myself about my anxiety disorder. And the other side is what is probably seems like to most people – a love letter to a guy that I’m in love with. So no matter how difficult these issues are… I don’t care, I just need you around. You’re still my peace, even if you’re imperfect. I don’t mind – you’re perfectly imperfect.
She shared updated tour information on April 12th. Baby Rose, Mikhala Jene, and Ron Gilmore will join her. The shows kick off in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 12. How instrumental was Dreamville in helping you to literally deliver this album? Like supporting you, helping you be honest, etc.
The Roots’ influence continues to ripple through so many genres and communities, and with Roots Picnic have been able to create a festival that does too in its own way. Truly providing something for everyone with performers ranging from rap superstar 21 Savage to R&B prodigy H.E.R. , the fest has grown into a major event, complete with compelling features like sing language interpreters for the hearing impaired, an arcade with ping-pong, video games and skee-ball for kids (of all ages), and a podcast stage with a silent disco party up on the hill, which features a serene view of the Philly skyline not to be missed.
But the focus at Roots Picnic remains on the music. For instance, when the crowd at the Mann Auditorium went wild for surprise guest Musiq Soulchild ‘s performance during Raphael Saadiq ‘s set, the look on many faces in the audience captured how that moment alone was worth the price of admission. A similarly pleased yet more determined look could be seen on the faces of the various young local artists that took the stages throughout the day who knew that performing at Roots Picnic is a true turning point.
We’re going to start using this in real life. If you’ve got a question about somebody else, direct it to that person. If not, we’ll just hit you with the “I’m nobody’s assistant!” Shortly after praising one fan in the comments, the Shea Butter Baby joked that she would not be passing along a message to J. Cole.
Yeah, with a newer artist like Boy Pablo and an established pop act like the Goo Goo Dolls, that’s a pretty eclectic lineup. The song’s video elicited a response from Elliott — who tweeted that she rocks out to Lennox’s music. Bruno Mars blessed the video with a simple one-character tweet: the fire emoji.
Cole’s Dreamville roster since 2015. The singer and songwriter made her commercial Dreamville debut in 2016 with the Pho EP and followed up in 2019 with her first album, Shea Butter Baby, which hit the Billboard 200 chart at number 104.
Lennox says she grew up on the music of John Legend, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo just as much as Coldplay and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. This mix of cross-genre influences helped to shape her sound into something distinct in the R&B field. “I just wanted to sing like all of them and I think somehow like my voice kind of matured into this,” she says.
Ari Lennox has never not kept it real. The Shea Butter Baby ” singer and first woman signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records label has set herself apart from other R&B singers today with her unique, sexy, and timeless sound, one that taps into the likes of Billie Holiday and Erykah Badu , to name a few influences. Her lyrics slice straight through to the heart of the matter, intimate, frank, deeply personal, and completely relatable.
LENNOX: So I feel like I’m nowhere near my goal, basically, that’s what I’m trying to say. I have a long way to go with this grind and stuff. Oh my God! They are amazing! They seem to be loving it a lot. I’ve seen very few negative comments – it’s just been a blessing. I’m shocked that people like it.