Song You Need to Know: Ari Lennox, 'Bussit'

“BMO,” the breakout single from ’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 classic ’90s 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 20 or more years ago. Released as part the deluxe edition Revenge the Dreamers III, a compilation from J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, the song calls back to the sounds 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 me, I’m rowdy as they can be,” she sings on the hook, cool and confident as adlibs swirl around her. Ari’s voice is distinct and powerful, never overbearing. Before you know it, it’s gone: She’s already mastered the art saying just enough and never too much.

 

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