Ari Lennox - Shea Butter Baby
Sep 30, 2021
Needa hear more Dreamville signees and one of my closest friends loves the titular track off this record, so I decided I'd give it a shot. Filled with soft, sultry RnB beats, Ari Lennox slides onto the scene over the course of her debut record "Shea Butter Baby", what I'd most positively describe as a fantastic display of her vocal talents. Over its twelve tracks, Lennox finds plenty of vocal grooves to ease into, and ease into them she does, sounding sleek and confident from front to back. However, when it comes to what lays beneath those vocals, the record starts to lose a lot of its worth. Coming off a front half consisting of a couple of solid beats, the production becomes a lot more stale and forgettable by the time the record closes, leaving me far more bored than I would've liked. Starting off with one of the highlights of the record in "Chicago Boy", Lennox pretty quickly establishes the powerhouse she can be when everything is in its right place. When the production is at its sleekest, when the choruses are at their punchiest, she's infectious, gliding past anything that comes her way. It was an intro that got me invested almost instantly, but it was a bit better than the rest of the record warranted, leaving me with a fair bit of disappointment once the record closed. Rather than being bad, the tracks that followed were predominantly forgettable, often finding themselves bereft of any distinctive qualities. They felt very "been there, done that;" there were similar sounding songs that strike me as more interesting, songs I'd rather revisit, at the end of the day. Yes, there were exceptions, namely the second track "BMO" and the aforementioned title track, but they were merely beams of light in a bog of haze and fog. No song really left a resounding impact on me, which even the strong vocal performances from both Ari and her features couldn't save. When it came to those vocals, there was little to fault; chemistry wise, everything flowed nicely with all the features (which were all solid, even on the notably grating "Broke"), but the rest of it all, especially in the record's latter half, didn't strike me as anything all that unique or interesting. "Shea Butter Baby" plants the seeds for Ari Lennox's vocal prowess, which is ever so abundant here; what she needs to work on in future releases is giving herself more of a name production and beat-wise.

Best Tracks: Chicago Boy, BMO, Shea Butter Baby
Worst Tracks: Broke, Pop, Whipped Cream

Rating: C+

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