Ari Lennox Gets Candid About The Inspiration Behind ‘Shea Butter Baby’

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JULY 05:  Ari Lennox performs at BET Essence Festival Weekend â   House of BET at Il Mercato on July 05, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ryan Theriot/Getty Images for BET Essence Festival Weekend)

Ari Lennox Gets Candid About The Inspiration Behind ‘Shea Butter Baby’

Dreamville’s first lady shared how her studio album came together.

Published July 9, 2019

Written by Danielle Ransom

The first lady of Dreamville now takes the crown as first lady of TIDAL’s Car Test. Host Elliott Wilson met up with Ari Lennox on her home turf of Washington D.C., where he got the rundown on her critically acclaimed 2019 release, Shea Butter Baby. Ari Lennox is driving in the fast lane as one of R&B's breakout stars carving her own path in the industry as an R&B revelation.

While the soulstress did confirm that she has a special someone in her life, the conversation was a deeper glimpse into the R&B singer. 

In the meantime, Ari is still coming down from the high of her debut studio album.

“I can’t believe people love my music. It just feels like a dream because that is all I ever wanted,” she shared. 

“I think people are excited that I’m talking about things other than just sex, love, or money. I got a song called ‘Broke’ on the record!”

The 12-track project touches on what every 20-somethings goes through. Ari was candid about not wanting to shy away from anything, choosing to strip down the music and lay her bare soul on each song, drawing directly from her life experiences. Like the time she didn’t even have $1,000 to hear name, which inspired "New Apartment." 

In regards to the opening track “Chicago Boy,” she reflected when she hit it off with a CVS worker that unfortunately fizzled out on her part.

“I was hoarse so I had to go in [CVS] and get some Ricola so my voice would be right for the night. [I] got some Ricola’s and met some fine [guy] in the CVS,” she shared with a laugh. “It was something so sexy about him because he was so assertive. He knew what he wanted and I liked that cause I looked a hot mess. I was looking terrible and he liked me. He didn’t know who I was or anything so it wasn’t no weird s**t. We hung out, it was beautiful, and I was wondering should I take it there with him? But I couldn’t do it because it was too scary and I had just met him.”

But for Ari, the most important aspect of the whole project was making sure to celebrate and uplift Black woman. 

“I just feel Black women, we get slept on a lot and people don’t recognize our greatness in our curls [and] in chocolate skin. Every shade of chocolate is so important, and so rich and glorious, and people be sleeping on us!” Ari also revealed why she named the album Shea Butter Baby, which is one of the most essential items in Black women’s beauty arsenal. “So I was like, ‘Nah, this is for us and ya’ll gon’ respect it. Y’all gon’ love it.’ [It’s] the wide range of [our beauty] from our natural hair journey to our souls to how we’re moving out here [and] how we’re inventing s**t.”

Watch the enlightening 13-minute interview in full below:

Photo: Ryan Theriot/Getty Images for BET Essence Festival Weekend


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