A Conversation With Ari Lennox On Never Changing What God Has Blessed Her With
I remember the excitement my co-workers had when Ari Lennox stopped by our office weeks after the release of her debut album "Shea Butter Baby" last year. It was a rare moment when nearly everyone wanted their chance with the talent (as opposed to being coerced into interviewing someone you have no interest in). I hadn't yet listened to the singer's music in a formal sense, but I heard it in the stories of nearly every Black woman I follow on Instagram.
And then there was a slight shift. That moment, as Larenz Tate would call it, passed -- or at least appeared to in Ari's eyes as she declared herself snubbed at the BET Soul Train Awards and said she was quitting music. She tweeted, “I want this sh-t way more than it wants me. I’m learning I have to stop caring. Yea I’m hurt. I’m not built for these things lmao.” Today, however, it seems Ari has learned she actually is built to withstand the entertainment industry. I asked her where she stands regarding her previous frustrations and, in short, she's good.
"I've been enjoying kind of just living my life and just living life instead of being so consumed with the Internet because I've realized it's not real," she told me during an interview about her collaboration with Crown Royal. "It's not very real in comparison to real life and the mean things people say, like I notice [they] are not things people say in real life. People don't just go up to me and say what it is they hate about me. These are things that are on the Internet, therefore it can't be true. I still stand by that. I've just been enjoying real life."
Ari is right. Take for instance the time Snoop told her to grow her own hair when she experimented with a lacefront wig on social media. Or when another Black man said her nostrils make her look like a pit bull. Would either of those men say such ridiculous things to her face? Of course not. Although those situations have made Ari question whether she's enough from time to time, the DC-native said she has no intention of changing who she is.
"The Internet noise, sometimes they'll decide my appearance isn't I guess to their standards or whatever and I'm just like, well, I will never change what God has blessed me with. This is the body God decided for me to be in so I just don't see that changing.
"Also, with music," she added, "people have said things I guess about my voice but it's just one of those things like, but I like to sing though. I know I'm not no Patti Labelle legend. I love Patti, but I also recognize my space in this so I kind of drown out the noise by the fact that I have ambition. I have a goal set in mind. I want to sing. I'm grateful to be able to sing for a living."
If you've hit your 30s or 40s already, you know the older you get the easier it is to ignore negative things people have to say about you. Ms. Shea Butter Baby herself will turn the big 3-0 next March and she shared she's excited about stepping into a new decade.
"I feel really grateful. I'll be grateful definitely as it happens. I feel like it's the start of something new and exciting. I feel, I don't know, so blessed. I have everything I could ever imagine in life so I'm really excited about being 30.
"I think it's really sexy, just the older I get. I'm grateful. I feel like it's so hard to survive as a Black woman, as Black people, so I'm going to be so grateful when that day comes and as each year happens."