Ari Lennox is in a great place. She released her hit and critically-lauded debut studio album Shea Butter Baby in May, has performed at sold-out shows, successfully driven “the boat” with help from Megan Thee Stallion, and over the weekend, attended and performed at her first Black Girls Rock! Awards.
“It was so great!” she told us in a tired but excited voice the Monday after. Not only did the 28-year-old “BMO” singer hit the stage, but she also got to meet a few of her idols. When asked who she was most thrilled to encounter, she listed her faves.
“Probably Erykah Badu, Common,” she said. “That was cool. And India Arie killed it.”
Lennox is finally rubbing elbows with the people who inspired her, making a name for herself in the industry and having the experiences she deserves. It’s a wonder that at this time in 2018, she was ready to quit music.
“I don’t see how I can ever be happy doing music again,” she tweeted at the time. “I don’t want to write and I don’t want to listen to [sic] listen to any beats. I don’t want to perform. I think im literally done. Never thought I could feel that way but I do.”
“Hopefully god can give me happiness and peace because I feel so far from it,” she added. “This has nothing to do with music. I’m not mentally ok. I don’t know if I will ever be.”
Thinking back on those tweets, Lennox says it took dealing with some personal demons and seeing the beauty of the world around her to get out of that dark space and complete her album.
“Man…I just finally…I don’t know, I just let go of this traumatic experience that happened to me. I just dealt with it,” she said. “I got super healthy and I found out about loving on myself. I fell in love with New York. I fell in love with Brooklyn, and that just helped me mentally. It’s just a beautiful place to heal, I think. I got away from the shadiness of L.A. and I just realized music is my therapy, or is part of my therapy, and I need to do it. I don’t know, the trauma eventually lessened over time. Oh and going to Nigeria [helped].”
Lennox said a recent trip to West Africa also helped her feel more appreciated and mentally relieved. When she returned to the States, she was able to look at life differently.
“Oh my gosh, there were just so many sexy men. It was just beautiful feeling wanted and appreciated. Just seeing so many beautiful chocolates everywhere!” she said. “And going to the strip club, being danced on — all these things just helped. I just felt so free and beautiful and I felt like there was purpose in life.”
“It’s a whole world out there other than like, you know, whatever city you live in,” she added. “If you ever feel depressed, take your depressed a– out the country, or at least be depressed somewhere else and like, just live, you know what I’m saying? Because it can really help you find appreciation for life and different things.”
With her newly packed schedule, the D.C. native can’t travel for mental clarity and personal fun as much as she would like to presently, but she does take precautions to protect her energy and keep herself in a good space.
“I think just being careful who I let in really close and being careful not to talk too much about certain things to certain people,” she said. “Like, keep your business to yourself because people are shady as hell. That was one of the things I had to learn, like stop running my mouth about my life; and just keeping my friends close, my real ones close, protecting the energy. Finding a balance too because I always want to be transparent. I like being close on IG Live with like my friends. I call IG Live, those are my friends, those are my supporters. I like talking, but I also realize, sometimes I have to keep the sh-t sh-t to myself.”
She also has continued to love on herself heavy, which has been a must in the wake of a recent breakup. When we inquired about her boyfriend, whom was often spotted on her Instagram, she revealed they’d called it quits, but she was glad to have no hard feelings about it.
“He was a friend of all my other friends. It was beautiful and cool and it felt safe but I don’t know,” she said. “I think with all that’s going on, it’s so hard to be in a relationship. We’re really close so who knows what will happen, but I want to protect our energies and I just feel like we might be better as friends.”
Not only is she not sour about the split, but Lennox also says the work she’s done to prioritize her self-care has allowed her to feel clearer and happier than she has in a long time without a partner.
“This is the first time! Like, I don’t even want to have sex and it’s insane. That’s never happened to me. I don’t know, maybe it’s broken down there,” she joked. “I’m so happy! It’s weird. I feel so clear. Like, I don’t need anything and it’s nice.”
A year after she was ready to throw in the towel on her career, Lennox says it’s of the utmost importance to her now. With that in mind, she’s making an effort to be a voice in the game for as long as possible.
“I kind of don’t even want to drink anymore because I want to be able to just not be sick and just always have my voice and sh-t like that,” she said. “I want to be as fire as India Arie one day or Erykah Badu, or just those real singers that be singing. So it’s like now, I don’t know, I just want to focus.”