R&B

Ari Lennox – Shea Butter Baby (Album Review)

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Ari Lennox’s long-awaited debut album has finally arrived, and it is refreshingly raw. Fellas, if you don’t want to Marry Ari after listening to it, rethink your life.


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TOP 5

 

5. NEW APARTMENT

In “New Apartment,” you get a chance to hear how Ari Lennox acts when she’s home alone, and based off of what I heard, she loves being naked, lazy and acrobatic (Jesus Christ, I love this girl). Luckily for us, Ari’s vocals remain smoother than a lotioned up hand on the song, while the beat she sings over gives off some serious umph and jazzy vibes.

Don’t you love how Ari stays true to an infectious melody on this song, but in terms of the delivery of her lyrics, she’s all over the place? It’s almost like the drink keeps hitting her more and more as the song goes on.

I love how this song turns into a ‘get the f**k out of my apartment’ fest towards the end.

 

 

4. BMO

Get yourself a girl that has natural hair, but can also lay in bed ’til noon.

“BMO” is a lot of fun to listen to. First and foremost, the song is powered by this vivacious instrumental that I believe has no interest in playing designated driver. With that being said, Ari sprawls her way through her verses on the track, talking about wanting good sex, chiefing, and getting more good sex from her lover.

I think whoever listens to this song will love the “itchy kitchy yaya’s” on the hook, and the pure bluntness Ari shows in her lyrics on her verses.

 

 

3. WHIPPED CREAM

I absolutely love “Whipped Cream!” It sounds like some vintage R&B s**t. to me. it’s also passionate, and most importantly, contains some outstanding vocals by Ari. Content-wise, the song tackles the viewpoint of a woman that is borderline depressed about her single status, and how everything around her reminds her of her ex-lover. Every word Ari delivers on this song is met with great thought, while I can feel each inch of anguish she gives off in her voice.

When I’m depressed, I eat food with ounces of oil. Maybe that’s my body trying to say I need to fry for picking tired ass women to date.

 

 

2. BROKE

Why is being broken such a great bonding tool?

You know what I love about “Broke?” It features two artists in Ari Lennox and J.I.D. that are up and coming, but at the same time, good as s**t at their respective crafts. In this song, they join forces, each talking about how much they mean to one another, especially since they are both recovering from being broken by a myriad of things.

I love how this song plays like a ghetto play, featuring a gentle instrumental, sporadic vocal contributions by both Ari and J.I.D., and most importantly, pure emotion. You can tell both artists are in need of some unhealthy love, and I am more than confident they can give it to each other.

 

 

1. SHEA BUTTER BABY

“Shea Butter Baby” sounds like some s**t that will play in a scene of a movie in which a male protagonist makes love to his woman while the wind is blowing outside. On it, Ari Lennox puts up the performance of her life, soulfully tip-toeing the idea of diving deep in love without a safety vest. As for Cole, he does his due diligence of sounding madly in love on his part (At least initially), but as the song goes on, he gives us something a bit more rugged.

“Shea Butter” sounds like a bomb ass topping for some Ice Cream.


SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN

1. CHICAGO BOY (4/5)

2. BMO (5/5)

3. BROKE (4.5/5)

4. UP LATE (4/5)

5. SHEA BUTTER BABY (5/5)

6. SPEAK TO ME (4/5)

7. NEW APARTMENT (4.5/5)

8. FACETIME (3.5/5)

9. POP (4/5)

10. I BEEN (4.5/5)

11. WHIPPED CREAM (5/5)

12. STATIC (4/5)


OVERALL RATING

(B+)

 

Ari Lennox is a hot mess on this album, and I mean that in the most endearing way possible. While she talks about love like everyone else in the R&B game does, she delivers her words in a way that is brash, unapologetic, and on the real, downright cringey. Matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ari recorded this whole album naked or without a bra on. But lets keep it real: love has never been organized or tamed in our lives, so why should it be in hers?

The first thing listeners need to pay attention to on this album is Ari Lennox’s singing on it: It’s damn-there flawless. While it might be easy to show a range of emotions in your voice while you’re talking to someone, it’s mighty hard when you have to show it through singing; Ari somehow accomplishes this feat, as she allows her voice to reach the highest of the highs (Especially on the songs she wants to get popped off), and the lowest of the lows (Especially on the songs she’s dealing with heartbreak). Ari’s talent allows her to display not only your typical emotions like happiness and sadness, but also impatience, anxiety and pessimism. I can’t stress to you how hard that is.

The second thing listeners should pay attention to on this album is Ari’s lyrical content. Every song on “Shea Butter Baby” feels emotionally authentic, and that’s mainly because Ari is fantastic at vividly describing her every emotion/move. It’s one thing for her to say that she’s broken-hearted, but it’s another thing to say that she’s broken-hearted to the point that she has been laying in bed all day watching TV shows that features actors that look like her ex (All while chowing on some whipped cream). That’s how much detail Ari gives in her music.

The third thing listeners should pay attention to on this album is its smooth vibes. Ari has stated that she draws inspiration from neo-soul legends such as D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and Bilal, but also mainstream artists such as Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill and Whitney Houston. In “Shea Butter Baby,” you get a perfect blend of both worlds, as Ari sings soulfully over the gentlest of beats, while touching on subject-matters the restless youths of today tend to tackle. If your mother or father get a hold of this album, it might take two or three listens for them to cast poor Ari as a uninformed millennial. However, if you are an uninformed millennial, everything the DMV native says on this album will hit a chord with you.

Since Ari is blunt in her music, I’ma be blunt, too: I want to make love to Ari Lennox! Since it’s out there in the open now, I’ll explain why: Ari has this sexiness to her that is hard to ignore, but at the same time, a level of vulnerability that is touching. It’s almost like she knows how to say the right things, even when what she has to say may come across as embarrassing, or quite frankly, not the right thing to say in unfavorable situations. On the real, I’m all for a perfect R&B entity that has the persona of someone that is imperfect.

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