Ari Lennox - Shea Butter Baby

Ari Lennox
Shea Butter Baby

There are moments where it feels like R&B might be over. Have we heard it all? Has every corner of the genre been mined and all the gold gone? It takes an album to remind you how untrue this idea really is. IGOR by Tyler the Creator comes to mind, but in a different way we could put this new album from Ari Lennox Shea Butter Baby there as well. Her album is full of sensual tracks that still have an edge. It's one thing to have a song that is overtly explicit, which is the trend recently, but it's another thing to convey true emotion and true feeling to a track. Ari Lennox does that in spades on this record. You may have heard semblances of what this album is in the past; warm keyboard, gentle drum beats and vocals infused with incredible power, but Ari elevates those aspects to new heights. For all the new moments on Shea Butter Baby there are still moments that feel like they drag a bit. The album's title track featuring J. Cole moves at such a glacial pace that J. Cole's verse is the only thing that pulls you out of the malaise. You find that a lot on this record where you thinking something is really going somewhere at the beginning, but once the four minutes go by you haven't really moved all that much.

The album sits ripe for something new, but it never really comes. It's a shame because Lennox's ideas get a bit lost this way, without something banging to keep you engaged her singing slips away. I'm not saying she needs to sing about clubbing over a trap banger, but something else to set it apart. It's a good album, but it isn't a monumental one like her vocal indicated. She'll get there at some point, I ahve no doubt about that, she just needs to get in the room with the right producers.

7.9 out of 10


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