Starting out as a YouTube sensation in 2014, Ari Lennox has remained true to her soulful nature by landing a deal with J. Cole’s Dreamville Records in 2015. Rolling out had the pleasure of talking with Lennox, as she discussed her journey to Dreamville, her single, “Backseat,” and her new EP, PHO.
How did you get signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records?
I did a collaboration with an awesome guy and incredible lyricist named Omen. He truly looked out for me and showed IB, Cole and Ced my music and years later, I got signed.
How was your recent experience performing in Atlanta?
I always love Atlanta. It’s so culturally breathtaking and I just love looking out in the audience and seeing beautiful brown faces.
Your outfit and hair at The Music Room were awesome, really authentic and unique. How do you go about choosing your specific style?
Man I just like to be comfortable. That’s one thing Dreamville has helped me embrace. I’ve learned owning who you are inside and out is the sexiest thing ever. So basically I just wake up and throw things on and make sure it matches [laughs].
Your lead single, “Backseat ” featuring Cozz, is amazing. How did that song come about?
“Backseat” is a song I wrote during a period of time with an ex. The lyrics just flowed on the Grumble beat.
Who are some of your biggest influences musically?
Minnie Ripperton, D’Angelo, John Legend, Erykah Badu, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, Toni Braxton, Omarion. The list goes on.
Everyone is excited about your new EP, PHO. When does it come out and what should we expect?
It was released on Oct. 21 and you can expect a vulnerable, soulful and straight to the point type vibe.
Do you feel that artists such as Lauryn Hill, India Arie and Erykah Badu have paved the way for artists like you?
Hell yes. All three of those legends have helped mold my sound and how I freely carry myself. There simply wouldn’t be a “Backseat” without The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Mama’s Gun.