Ari Lennox Went From Uber Driving to Headlining Her Own Tour

I think that’s a big theme from the album that stuck with people, its relatability. On “I Been,” you sing about your Tinder troubles. I don’t remember a song really mentioning Tinder before.

Damn, really? I just be talking about the things in my life. But yeah, so many people are just not very genuine online. I caught myself looking for my ex, and a lot of these people that I would swipe right on, I’m meeting them in real life and they’re just not that guy at all. It was just a terrible, terrible time.

Do you remember what your Tinder bio was?

My bio for the most part was me promoting my music. I was that girl. It actually helped me when I did OkCupid. I had a sexy picture and a link to my “Drunk in Love” cover and I sent mad guys to watch it.

A couple months ago, you tweeted, “I want to stop being compared to y’alls fave so badly.” Who do you hear about the most that you’re sick of being compared to?

So, I’m only sick of this because it sometimes makes me feel like there’s no room, and that’s Erykah Badu. Absolutely no shots at her, she’s amazing and a legend. But for me, it’s like, if you guys think I sound just like Erykah Badu, is there room for Ari to ever be her own artist? Plus, I’ve never met Erykah. I’m scared to for a million reasons, and I also don’t want her thinking I’m trying to jack her swag or anything. I guess that’s my biggest fear—I don’t know why she would have time to think about me at all. That’s my paranoid mind.

I really think only Erykah Badu can be Erykah Badu. I wish I could create something as legendary as Mama’s Gun and Baduizm. That’s an all-time body of work right there.

This interview is beautiful because you’re asking about so many different things. But a lot of times people just jump straight to, “Yeah, you remind me of Erykah,” and I’m just like, “Man, did you check out other things? Do you really know my discography? Do you know anything about me?”

Erykah symbolizes late-90s, early-2000s neo-soul, so people are just taking the next singer with neo-soul vibes and saying, “This is Erykah now.” I think with R&B in particular, those comparisons happen more often.

That’s deep as hell. You’re absolutely right. I think it’s a black thing. It’s definitely “she’s black and she’s soulful and she’s natural,” and people don’t know how to think outside of that. And mind you, I did listen to a lot of Erykah Badu, don’t get me wrong. But I’m also inspired by Missy Elliott, Tweet, SWV, 702, En Vogue, Anita Baker, Oleta Adams, Billy Ocean, D’Angelo, Bilal, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Omarion, Ciara, Ashanti, Petey Pablo, Kanye West, Common, Jazmine Sullivan, Chrisette Michele, and Floetry. I listened to all of them, studied all of them.

What this points to is a lot of the people who are making that comparison maybe haven’t listened to a ton of R&B singers.

They did that to SZA! They compared SZA to Erykah, and I do not hear that at all. I could understand why they’d say that with me to at least some extent. I almost didn’t want “Chicago Boy” on the album because even though I wasn’t trying to go to the studio and sound like Erykah, I could hear influences of certain things she’s done.

Another tweet of yours: “I want real soul music to win so bad. I’m fighting for this shit every day. It’s the best kind of music period.” Where do you think R&B stands relative to other genres in 2019?

 

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