Ari Lennox’s bittersweet new single gets us in our feelings.
When Ari Lennox, the only female musician signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records, announced this summer that she might be stepping back from music, I was crushed. Her 2016 debut album PHO had me craving more of her velvety, soaring voice; dreamy, instrumental arrangements; and beats so vibing I can’t help but bop my head and put on my stank face. Not to mention the inherent sense of nostalgia that comes with listening to Ari. Memories of peaceful drives under starry skies are encapsulated in the sound and lyrics of “Night Drive,” and “La La La La” will have you in your feelings quicker than anything else. Lyrics like “Don’t belong to me/ But still your shadow leaves/ Chills on my cheeks” paired with her soulful voice force you to stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath, and just listen. Needless to say, the idea of having no more of her music to connect with (and cry to) was very disappointing.
But I found hope again when Ari dropped her first single of the year in September, titled “Whipped Cream,” in preparation for a possible full-length project. It’s unclear whether Ari will be moving forward with this project or taking a well deserved break due to mental health issues, but this new release shows how much talent and individuality she has to offer. While much of her past work is emotional in an obvious way, “Whipped Cream,” written about one of her past relationships, strikes a new and intriguing balance between sweetness and sadness. With bright chords and a soothing, repeated guitar lick, the song feels serene — like a daydream. But the lyrics reveal a deeper meaning, perfectly summing up the feeling of having nothing but memories left of someone you loved:
I’ve been eating whipped cream
Having vivid dreams
Of your face and through people on TV screens
You’ve been everywhere
And I wish I didn’t care.
Check out the official music video for “Whipped Cream” below.