“BMO,” the breakout single from Ari Lennox’s 2019 debut album, Shea Butter Baby, is a wild sonic menagerie. The beat is built around a playful bass line sampled from Galt MacDermot’s 1969 instrumental “Space” — yes, the same one previously heard on Busta Rhymes’ first solo hit, 1996’s “Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check” — and the song’s hook interpolates the “Gitchi gitchi ya ya” refrain from Labelle’s 1974 hit, “Lady Marmalade,” delivered in a vocal style that pulls all those elements together into something more reminiscent of classic Nineties R&B.
On her latest single, “Bussit,” Lennox focuses in on that sensibility, building a slow, slinking, sensual song that harkens back to the R&B of 20 or more years ago. Released as part of the deluxe edition of Revenge of the Dreamers III, a compilation from J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, the song calls back to the sounds of Erykah Badu and others while making a strong argument for this D.C.-native singer as an original.
Producers Brilliant Mack and Dijon Stylez furnish simple chords, with few 808s or complex high-hat patterns, leaving room for Lennox’s voice to smoothly coo, bounce, and glide around the track. “I know that you’re into me, about it, then let me see/Ride, don’t be scared of me, I’m rowdy as they can be,” she sings on the hook, cool and confident as ad-libs swirl around her. Lennox’s voice is distinct and powerful, never overbearing. Before you know it, it’s gone: She’s already mastered the art of saying just enough and never too much.
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