Over the last four years, J. Cole has emerged not only as one of hip hop’s biggest acts, but also a formidable label head. Under his stewardship, his Dreamville records imprint has recruited and developed some of the most exciting and up and coming acts in music right now. Queen’s rapper Bas released last year’s standout Milky Way. The Atlanta duo Earthgang dropped their EP Royalty through the label last February. And this past November, J.I.D’s DiCaprio 2 became somewhat of a critical darling.
This is all before we get to Ari Lennox. As the lone female artist on the label, the 27-year-old singer has had a lot of weight to carry. However, across her string of singles for Dreamville and on her 2016 EP Pho, Lennox has displayed a gift for constructing woozy hooks and a penning silky love songs. She does both these things on her latest single “Shea Butter Baby.” In the music video for the track, Lennox and cohabitates with a lover, and we watch as both of them submit to the emotional push-pull, up-down, ebb-flow of domestic coupling. “Wishing, you could meet me, see me, freak me,” the Charlotte native croons over a skipping beat reminiscent of Tweet’s “Oops (Oh My).”.
The song also features the head honcho himself, J. Cole. The rapper delivers a characteristically skittering verse about a past lover whose memory just won’t fade away, “Coconut oil, the scent of your body still lingers on sheets.”
In January, J. Cole hosted Dreamville’s “Reveng of the Dreamers” Sessions, in which some of the best and brightest minds in hip-hop and R&B were invited to Atlanta to lend their talents to Dreamville’s next project. The future seems bright for both Lennox and the label. You can watch the video above.