NEW YORK (AP) — Writer’s block confined Ari Lennox while creating his latest album, “age/sex/location,” but his label boss and friend, rap superstar J. Cole, suggested he start to keep a diary to unleash their creativity.
“He was like, ‘I just want you to write and not stop for a while.’ And so, you start to see all these words and experiences going on,” Lennox said of a session for “POF,” the album’s opener. “It was just pages and pages of life, and it was just a really cool, beautiful writing exercise, and it really helped me write better.”
Released earlier this month, Lennox’s second project follows 2019’s critically acclaimed “Shea Butter Baby.” Reduced from 80 potential songs at 12, the album, produced by Elite, features the moving singer taking listeners through the lifespan of a romantic relationship. The title of the album alludes to a common questionnaire used by participants in Internet discussion forums in the late 90s and early 2000s.
“It just encompasses dating and the whole thing – the ups and downs, the crushes that start out so light and sweet, but it’s a crush for a reason, and ends in pain, misery, horror,” the 31-year-old said with a laugh. “Then there is the realization of the importance of my queen space and the importance of protecting my peace and blocking out people or any kind of negative energy.”
Lennox’s unique and soulful sound – an updated version of the neo-soul era of the early 2000s – is a welcome alternative to the R&B-melodic fusion that owns much of today’s airspace. today. The release of the album was propelled by the success of light, singing bop “Pressure”, a callback to 60s soul. Made up of a super team including Lennox, iconic R&B writers Bryan-Michael Cox and Johntá Austin and superstar hit-maker Jermaine Dupri, the track reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult R&B chart.
Beautifully channeling her inner Erykah Badu on the angelic, jazzy “Mean Mug,” she serenades, “There’s magic in your eyes” throughout the chorus as a Theo Corker trumpet solo swells at the end. of the song.
“’Mean Mug’ is my favorite song on the album. It’s just a special and moving masterpiece for me,” the Washington DC native soprano revealed. “I love the idea of love so much… when I really think someone is special, I’ll romance it and so much poetry can come out of it.”
In the same sexually stimulating arena as her feature “On It” on Jazmine Sullivan’s Grammy-winning album “Heaux Tales,” Lennox isn’t afraid to ask for what she wants on slow jams like his groovy “Stop By” or the seductive Chloe Bailey-assisted “Leak It”, referring to the posting of personal and intimate videos.
“She killed him. She offered something that I could never have imagined,” Lennox said of Bailey. “It’s basically that you feel so safe with someone, someone you can trust and you just feel like, you know what? I just want to do everything with you. damn if anyone sees. We should show the world – maybe not literally – but that’s how amazing the passion right now is.
But it’s not all about the novelty and excitement of the craze; Lennox sets personal boundaries and makes time for self-care with tracks like “Blocking You” and “Queen Space” featuring Summer Walker who also reached No. 1 on the Adult R&B chart.
Lennox masterfully doubled his soul sound, further cementing his mastery of his craft. She’s also growing in her personal life, sailing to fame as her profile rises sharply. Although he’s raged in the past in response to Twitter trolls and toxic comments, Lennox is learning that social media doesn’t always accurately reflect real life.
“I will always be myself. Nothing about that will ever change… I don’t see myself doing (cosmetic) work or anything like that. I may have cried over some things people said about me on Twitter. But yeah, I realized what’s real and what’s not,” Lennox said. “I love my nose. I love how my body looks…I love my music. I love how beautiful and different it is. And it’s for me, and it’s for whoever it is. So that’s really all you can do in life – you just have to live for what you love, what you want, what’s important to you.
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