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."
Grateful 😍 pic.twitter.com/mgxVRYHNwN— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) March 11, 2022
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.
👋🏾 hi. I don’t thank my day ones and supporters enough. Thank you to everybody that loves my music and streams and buys it. I love you all so much ❤️ and thanks for always being so sweet and encouraging as well! Y’all are truly the best 😘— Ari Lennox (@AriLennox) March 6, 2022
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