Home · Only at ESSENCE

Ari Lennox Is Fighting For Herself In Debut Album 'Shea Butter Baby'

The soprano singer's debut project will be released in May.

Ari Lennox, the singer with the piercing soprano and lyrics as if she’s reading them from her diary, is in the fight of her life—and she ain’t tired yet.

“I’m going to fight for what I want,” the 28-year-old Dreamville artist recently told ESSENCE as she preps for her debut album, out next month.

Although fans have already fell in love with her soulful yet relatable vibe, thanks to songs like “Whipped Cream,” “Pedigree” and “Shea Butter Baby,” which is also the name of her debut album, Lennox is still in the music industry boxing ring, ensuring she doesn’t become another cookie cut out of last year’s favorite R&B breakout. Lennox is determined to make audiences fall in love with herself.

Ari Lennox Is Fighting For Herself In Debut Album ‘Shea Butter Baby’
SILVER SPRING, MD – JULY 26: Ari Lennox performs onstage at the BETX On The Road: DMV Concert at The Fillmore Silver Spring on July 26, 2017 in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images for BET)

“When it comes to creativity, or my artistry, when it comes to how I wear my hair and what I’m dressing like,” the Washington, D.C.-area native began, “some things I’m going to fight for; and it’s really about picking the battles, but usually I’m not backing down.”

“When I first got signed, I was even afraid to be as dressy because I was always surrounded by guys, and then I realized yo, how many times am I going to dumb down what I’m feeling inside just because—I don’t know—just stupid sh-t that media makes you feel,” she continued. “Now, I’m just trying to show the sass. If I could twerk I would twerk this a-s.”

Ari Lennox Is Fighting For Herself In Debut Album ‘Shea Butter Baby’
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 02: J. Cole (L) and Ari Lennox perform onstage during 2017 Budweiser Made in America – Day 1 at Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 2, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch)

Lennox is also unafraid to stand up to her “super supportive” parents.

“Even though Dad wants me to [sing] more ballads like a Whitney [Houston] or Celine Dion, it’s just not me,” she said emphatically. “I’m never going to be a ballad hoe so it’s hard; it really is hard finding that balance.”

Instead of singing ballads about aspirational love on Shea Butter Baby, Lennox croons about adulting experiences we all can relate to like buying a new apartment and having the ability, as the lyrics state, “walk around this b-tch naked.”

Article continues after video.

“It gets ratchet,” she bragged. 

Lennox, who exclusively shared her new music with ESSENCE in a private listening session, added that the tracks “are going to be on my debut project, which will come out hopefully before 2023.”

Despite Lennox’s jokes, her album is actually out the first week of May.