Ari Lennox Asserts her power in “age/sex/location”
Newly released soul for your soul
Ari Lennox puts out her sophomore album “age/sex/location,” which is an album that represents the ups and downs of love and the bittersweetness of it. The transitional period, and finding her way into an “Eat Pray Love” space in her life. With strong influences in soul and R&B reflected throughout. Ari has also stated being heavily inspired by singers such as: Minnie Riperton, Anita Baker, Missy Elliott, and Teacher Moses. Which can be heard through her melodies, and writing styles.
In an interview with Zane Lowe, she touches on the background of the title: “ASL,” an icebreaker used in online chatrooms that she went on when she was younger. “Becoming someone else and fantasizing about whoever is behind that username even though I feel like we were all lying,” said Ari.
This album was able to show important lessons that she’s learned while entering her thirties.
By having songs that exude the importance of what a relationship means to her and what she is willing to put up with. By the end we see Ari regaining her power by giving the love she has not been able to receive from others, and giving it to herself. Through sexy, sensual, and liberating songs in this body of work.
We slide into a slow groove for “POF”. Which could be a reference to the dating site Plenty of Fish, and a play on words about pretending to be something you aren’t; as she has said about herself in the past, and later in “A/S/L (Interlude)”: “I am the original catfish.”
But, in this case, this song allows her to take control of the narrative and question the men she has dated. With an isolated vocal Ari sings “The audacity to question me about your Christianity /then turn around and f**k with me/ like it was gon’ be easy (no),” as harmonies featuring J. Cole’s vocals accompany. The chorus drops, “Lord knows I don’t need no one/ But sure would be sweet,” she sings.
These lyrics prove that she indeed does want to be with someone and knows she has the power to obtain better.
A nice and slow transition falls right into “Hoodie”’s sexier, glimmering, and liberating awakening; with a deep soulful bass a softer, yet curious side of her comes to play.
She converses with a new lover about what he could give to her if she were to continue.
This also comes through many forms of sexual innuendos. She asks if he’s too afraid to be honest and show her all his intimate parts. “I need someone fearless/ tell me, are you that guy?” she sings.
With the melody of old ‘90s slow jams and trickling cymbals falling in, she enters the pre-chorus: “You know how these things go/ ready if you say so/ spread it like some queso,”with built-up anticipation for the listener along with multiple layered vocals, as the bases slowly muffles into the background.
A similar theme arises in “Waste my time,” a song that can relate to today’s “hookup culture”, with an R&B and pop twist, heavily influenced by Missy Elliot. She is willingly accepting a relationship that will only provide her with temporary satisfaction, so long as she gets what she wants, as she sings “Waste my time/ Get on my line/ ‘Cause I got the time to waste.”
As the first single on the album, “Pressure,” doesn’t fall short. Accompanied with a jump in energy, she sings about her lover only realizing his desires for her at the height of her fame. Now that she realizes the power she holds over him, she craves a people pleaser singing,“Keep your eyes on me, eyes on me, apply that (pressure)/Get it, don’t be scared when you in it, apply that (pressure).”
“Mean Mug” and “Boy Bye feat. (Lucky Daye)” both focus on asserting her power, making boundaries and realization that a casual relationship isn’t what she wants, and that she desires loyalty beyond sex. She wants the love she’s given out so frivolously back.
In “Mean Mug” she sings, “That Mean Mug sh*t when I forward your calls/ I don’t play that sh*t, I’d rather not get involved/ Cause I ain’t sharin’ you.” While “Boy Bye” introduces a new suitor trying to impress her, but ultimately being unsuccessful. With both singers harmonizing with each other,. Lennox uses a modern update of the interlude by Erykah Badu’s “Next Lifetime.”
While “Stop By” can shy more in the background and grab your attention by using a common move, a raw recording before the drop begins. This song will show the listener that no matter how much progress you make, there is a chance your desire may take over your consciousness again.
However, this doesn’t last in “Outside,” a song with themes of female empowerment. She is freeing herself from care. She does what she wants as she sings, “Givin’ the girls Diana Ross/Walkin’ around like I’m a boss.”
With the newfound confidence, she has gotten through the storm of bitterness and found sweetness. While nearing the end of the journey with, “Leak It” also sung with Chlöe, “Blocking You” and “Queen Space” sung with Summer Walker. All showing commitment to embracing and sticking up for oneself; along with the expectations she holds for any partner that wants to enter her sacred energy and space.
So, if you’re looking to take a trip into another dimension and pretend for a moment, try taking a listen to this lustful, female-empowering, soul and R&B record. You can find it on platforms such as: Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud.