Ari Lennox / Various Shea Butter Baby Remix EP

Ari Lennox / Various Shea Butter Baby Remix EP
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Ari Lennox's Shea Butter Baby made light of the trying times of an adolescent Black woman coming into her own, balancing on the tightrope between vulnerability and sensuality. This time around, Lennox's three-track Shea Butter Baby Remix EP highlights stronger moments, but ultimately fails to deliver a bona fide reworked take on her original croons.
 
Lennox's theatrical ear whets her ability to carefully choose collaborators on her records. Doja Cat and Smino are masterful singer-rappers versed in the art of manipulating words to mimic rhythms and playing with homonyms. On the "BMO" remix, Doja "brought the pen like she got [a] penis" — the operative term here being pen — to acknowledge her exceptional writing skills that are frequently attributed to male MCs. Smino arranges similar word patterns, opening "I Been" with a twist on Ari's name to "are we recording?" Durand Berrnar however, delivers an unexpected haymaker with a harmonization pleasing to archangels on "Facetime," exceeding the excellence present on the original ballad.
 
For what it's worth, Shea Butter Baby Remix EP presents the nostalgic ingredient essential to any body of work brave enough to mirror "volume editions" reminiscent of the early 2000s, but that's about all it does. Lennox may be on her way to becoming a queen of soul — despite not winning a Soul Train award — but there is not enough on this EP to plead that case. (Dreamville Records/Interscope)