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Ari Lennox Is Applying "Pressure" With Her Sophomore Album Announcement

“I want to be braver and riskier. I think people want to hear that kind of honesty and frankness.”

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Ari Lennox's soulfully crooning voice has blessed our ears with many tracks since the release of her first EP in 2016, PHO. Songs like "Whipped Cream," "Shea Butter Baby," and "New Apartment" showed us the songstress' undeniable staying power in the industry with the release of her 2019 debut studio album, Shea Butter Baby. There's no denying Ari's light, and with the recent announcement of her sophomore album getting a 2022 release, it's clear it's high time for "Pressure" to be applied.


Just yesterday, Ari took to Twitter to share that the untitled project has been in the works since 2020 with over 70 recorded songs to show for it. "Wow we’ve created or 70 songs since 2020 alone. That’s so cool," she wrote. In another tweet that included a photo of her smiling next to a dry erase board of 80 songs and their titles listed, she captioned the pic, "Grateful."

In a separate tweet posted on Mar. 4, she shared with her fans that the album was nearly done and just needed three more songs and "then issa wrap." But she assured fans that the 80 songs wouldn't go to waste even if they don't make the sophomore album cut. She wrote, "It’s giving … 3 projects."

This news comes a little over a month after Ari made headlines after saying she wanted to be dropped from her label and was done doing interviews following an intrusive question about her sex life on a podcast. At the time, Ari expressed being "blindsided" about the interview question but also disappointed by "parts of the interview [weren't] destroyed like the team promised."

In a now-deleted tweet, she also added, "Just because I happily and freely sing/write about sex don't make any kind of creepy disrespect warranted. I clearly was in immense shock and hate that I didn't react differently." Shortly thereafter, she shared thoughts of being "done and tired."

It's a new dawn and a new day and Ari seems to be in much better spirits with her album news.

Have yet to ride the Ari Lennox wave? Here are 5 other things to know about the DC-born singer.

Ari Lennox Almost Passed Up A Record Deal With J. Cole For A $10/Hour Job

Before getting her big break with J. Cole and Dreamville in 2015, Ari was faced with quite the conundrum. Should she push past her comfort zone and fly out to meet J. Cole even if it meant putting her livelihood with her 9 to 5 at Public Storage at risk? The singer explained to the hosts of the Yes! Girl Podcast, "Yeah, I felt like no. I'm not doing this. I'm not getting on this plane. I was scared of planes and then also just got this job. It was $10 an hour. To me, that was way more important than meeting J. Cole."

It was a matter of pursuing her dreams versus her reality and reality was winning 'til it wasn't. "Two months went by, I was like, 'Man, of course, I quit Public Storage for nothing. Nothing's going to come out of this.' But Cole did finally say, 'Yeah, we're thinking about signing you or whatever.' Real casual. I was like, 'Oh snap.'"

Ari Names Whitney Houston & Ella Fitzgerald Among Musical Influences

With vocals often compared to the likes of Erykah Badu, Ari is also heavily influenced by some of the most talented vocalists of all time such as Whitney Houston, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday to name a few. As a singer who writes a lot of her own music as well, Ari pulls from her personal experiences and writes for an honest and vulnerable space that is captivating through its imperfections.

“Sometimes women are put in this box where we’re only supposed to talk about certain things," she explained about her artistry. “I want to be braver and riskier. I think people want to hear that kind of honesty and frankness.”

Erykah Badu Gave Her An Important Lesson In Singing

During a 2019 exclusive interview with Bossip, Ari recalled her first time meeting the Queen Mother herself, Erykah Badu. And of course, Erykah had gems to share with the rising starlet. "I was leaving the dressing room and she was just right there. I think she was there for me. I don't know. Maybe it just happened to be that way. She was just right there, I said [hi]...I couldn't hear anything! She was like, 'Are you nervous?' I was like, 'Yeah.' And she was like, 'Just sing from your p*ssy.'"

"I was like, 'Oh my God, I will.' I know, this makes so much sense. When you wanna hit that note you gotta dig deep down in there. You gotta squeeze sometimes to hit that got-damn f*cking high note. So she knew. I knew what she was saying."

A New Apartment In New York Helped Her Heal

As a singer-songwriter, Ari writes from her experiences and her truths, so it's no surprise that the 30-year-old is so open about where she is in her life. In 2019, after going through a traumatic breakup and sharing with fans that she hoped God could give her "happiness and peace because I feel so far from it." She tweeted that she was not "mentally ok." Months later, in a Madame Noire interview, she revealed that a new place in a new city was doing wonders for her healing and her mental state.

"I got super healthy and I found out about loving on myself. I fell in love with New York. I fell in love with Brooklyn, and that just helped me mentally. It's just a beautiful place to heal, I think. I don't know, the trauma eventually lessened over time. Oh, and going to Nigeria [helped]. It's a whole world out there other than like, you know, whatever city you live in. If you ever feel depressed, take your depressed a– out the country, or at least be depressed somewhere else and like, just live, you know what I'm saying? Because it can really help you find appreciation for life and different things."

Rejection Blessed Her With 'Made Room For The Most Beautiful Yes'

Singing was always a north star for Ari in her life. And though she found herself quitting jobs and losing interest in different things, she could always find herself, her passion, and her purpose in singing. She just didn't know if it was truly meant for her and often walked the line of dreaming and being realistic.

She did auditions and talent shows and faced a lot of rejection in the form of "no." In an interview with The Washington Post, she shared, "And I remember they liked me a lot, they knew I stood out, but they just knew I wasn't ready. I appreciate that so much because I feel like all of those no's made room for the most beautiful yes — that was Dreamville."

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Featured image by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Billboard

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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