The DMV has lately seen a rise in some of the most influential hip-hop, RnB, and musical acts in the past 10 years than seen previously. The boom has been one of the major reasons why artists from the DMV know how to make a unique and definite sound, while staying true to themselves and never losing that artistic vision.
Ari Lennox was the first woman signed to Dreamville Records, known to be headed by J. Cole who has his own plethora of talent and vision by his side. Lennox might not be a straight arrow when it comes to rapping, but her skills as a seamstress of vocals over catchy, memorable, and distinct instrumentals is just as important to recognize.
As she moves into Pho, the 2016 EP that holds more than just an introduction to her music. “Yuengling” is the first glance into the infinity pool where Lennox invites the listener in, forming a perfect relationship through these graceful traces of soul and underlying factors of sensuality. “That Yuengling make you do ya thang, all white docs and a pinky ring. Pop it so good make you wanna sing, all night long like a Mary Jane,” Lennox explains through this high-pitched but reminiscent tone. Her voice feels familiar as it strikes through the speakers, invoking old feelings of love and necessity.
As she moves into the following, “Backseat” holds the only feature present on Pho by Cozz who is another Dreamville Records artist. This is where Lennox becomes completely focused on the physicality as she describes, “Would you hit it how I like, would you hit it in the back seat of my ride? And I know it’s risky right, but I want it in the backseat of my hmmm.” It is hedonistic, but also makes for a nearly impeccable song to move the feet to.
That is primarily how Pho rides through as the mostly peaks and valleys create this flashing dichotomy of love-making and dancing the night away. Lennox is a cheerful remix between these more horn-heavy, almost swing styled beats and the sluggish, grinds toward emotional freedom. She is lovely throughout on Pho, fading sensations almost as a DJ would during a live mix.
She can ride through the waves of instinct, collecting some love and shine along the way. Pho is a beautifully produced, standout for the way that Lennox holds her own and has no problem letting the weight of Dreamville rest on her shoulders.