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Ari Lennox's "age/sex/location" and Its Effect on Her Evolution

Ari Lennox’s age/sex/location is an album that returns to form in multiple ways. Joining the ranks of esteemed artists like Jazmine Sullivan and Summer Walker, this record establishes Lennox as a premiere voice in today’s R&B scene. Although banally described as being an "eat, pray, love journey," her most recent release is by far her most erotic and self-assured record to date.

Following Lennox’s debut album, Shea Butter Baby, this new release seems like the poignant end to a journey of self-realization and sexual liberation. Shea Butter Baby was an album written by a girl trying to understand herself as more than just her sexuality. The tracklist is littered with woeful cries of longing and unrequited lust. Age/sex/location, on the other hand, is written by a woman who is much more confident in her desires. The songs are just as silky but much sexier than those on the former album.

The desperate pleas on her first album are replaced with assertive declarations of passion and love, which now feel well-deserved. The album opener, "POF," features unabashed expectations of romantic standards over a swinging melody reminiscent of Erykah Badu’s sultry sounds and philosophical meanderings. The following song, "Hoodie," falls short of such a strong opening. While "POF" offers a tasteful and angsty vibe, the attempted playfulness of "Hoodie" only serves to make the album seem static. Overly repetitive and silly lyrics dilute the message, while the instrumentation tediously crawls throughout the song.

Similarly, "Outside," in the album’s second half, seems inconsistent and out of place on such a refined record. The rhythm ricochets off of inconsistently feminist lyrics and breaks from the overall sexual allure of the album. Not only does the track seem too silly for such a sensual composition, but the vocals drag along the half-assed lyrics.

What recovers the disappointments of "Hoodie" and "Outside," however, is the refreshing bounce of "Waste My Time," a track that is much more contemporary and even toes the line of pop. The song, unique in regards to the rest of the album, splices what would otherwise be a cohesive R&B record. The return of age/sex/location’s brassy and rich tones comes through on "Mean Mug" and "Boy Bye," which solidifies Lennox’s iconic sound.

The most impressive and impactful part of the album is the candor that Lennox expresses in detailing her romantic life. She is unabashedly desirous in the best way. Her lilting vocals asserting exactly what she wants and how she wants it gives the album a captivating and powerful allure. Her luscious, self-deserving lyrics over the deep and booming soulful backtracks remain the backbone of an impressive set of tracks. Age/sex/location is not just a testament to Lennox’s musical prowess but also her much-deserved assuredness and sexual confidence.

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