Growing up in an era when hip - hop, and R&B was at its best, I can be tough to please when it comes to music. It takes a lot for me even to consider listening to a song somebody suggested, but there was something different about the DC born songstress Ari Lennox. When Amandaluxe relentlessly insisted I give her album a listen I rolled my eyes and bit the bullet - and I have to say my wig was pushed all the way back and I was left with no edges. I mean it did not disappoint.
Ari's debut album, Shea Butter Baby, is precisely what the term embodies: a black woman with sensuality and sass. While Ari whose real name is Courtney Shanade Salter joined forces with Elite and J. Cole to write the single, she also worked with other artists like Ron Gilmore, jazz trumpeter Theodore Croker, and Larry Blackmon.
The artist not only has a voice that almost resembles Ms. Badu; she also gives black girl magic with her style by showing off her natural curls, flaunting her thick thighs and dark skin. Her music reminds me of the era that I won't grow out of which is why I've listened to it on repeat for the past three days.
If 1975 and 1990 had a musical baby, it would be Shea Butter Baby. My favorite song, Whipped Cream, gives off the same vibe that Minnie Ripperton's Inside My Love - a song that seemed to be ahead of its time when it debuted in 1975. Whipped Cream's instrumental cadence has a nostalgic layer with its light bass guitar and drum. Meanwhile, songs like BMO reminds us of how much we miss music from timeless East Coast artists like Missy and Total.
While instrumentally the songs are beautifully composed her lyrics does them even more justice. One song, New Apartment, is one of the most relatable songs she wrote. While she starts with explaining how she's embracing her independence, she has lines like "No longer afraid of the dark (woo ha) 'Cause that light bill changed my heart (made a nigga act smart)" she eventually comes up to the conclusion that she still needs people singing her last verse:
And then, I just started thinking about life
Like I'm lonely
And then, I started thinking about my couch and my table
and my chairs and all this fucking shit that I have
And it's just like, all the furniture you get does not keep you warm at night
Your furniture is gonna fucking have sex with you
Your furniture is not gonna fucking teach you how to Dougie
It's not gonna teach you how to swim
It's not gonna teach you how to roller skate
And then I realized, oh my god, I need people."
With all that said Ari Lennox is my Summer obsession and if she isn't yours then I don't know what you're listening to.
Watch Shea Butter Baby
*Source: Photos courtesy of Essence, Pitchfork. IMP Concerts, Youtube, and Dj Booth