It’s been over 3 weeks and Ari Lennox’s Shea Butter Baby still sounds just as fresh as when it originally released in early May. This is one of the few albums of 2019 that is already contending to be the album of the year. The Dreamville songstress’ debut album is a 12-song ensemble of what new age soul would feel and sound like if one were to describe it: raw, familiar, intimate, honest, vulnerable, playful, and relatable. Ari is able to go from detailing how she likes it in a sexual situation (BMO) and reminiscing about a past love life when she was low (Broke) to her sharing how it feels to finally have the independence and growth you’ve longed for (New Apartment). Shea Butter Baby makes us, with each listen, either recall exact moments in our lives that the lyrics are speaking to or want to experience for ourselves. While each individual record is great on its own, it’s the album as a whole that will stand the test of time.
In an interview with Revolt, one of the main producers on the Shea Butter Baby, Ron Gilmore, detailed the process of putting the album together:
“There were different track-listings for sure. But, this is pretty much it. It was a long, tedious process to even get to 12 songs. There are more songs that are also good. It wasn’t one of those situations where we thought we had the album before. Nah, we pretty much worked on what we worked on and maybe a month before [the release], we came to grips with what was going to be on the album. I know the ones that we did in 2015 — ‘I Been’ and ‘Facetime’– kept making it through the cut lists. It would be a tracklist and it would be 20 songs. Then, it was cutting from there, and cutting from there, and cutting from there until we got to 12.”
Greatness works on its own time and sometimes it may take a month before a release for that greatness to shine through. Only time will tell us if this album ends up still being as great as it is now… I wouldn’t be against it.
You can stream Shea Butter Baby below and listen for yourself if you haven’t already