Ari Lennox
Source: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

The New Wave of R&B: Ari Lennox's Influence


Dec. 25 2023, Published 3:24 p.m. ET

Ever since she signed for Dreamville Records, Ari Lennox has become the group’s first lady, taking a central role in some of the label’s compilation projects, like “Revenge of the Dreamers III.”

Over the years, Lennox has not been afraid to drop names whenever she’s been asked about her inspirations. She has named established artists like Monica and Tweet as some of the artists who inspire her soulful projects.

In a bid to give back to the genre that has given her so much, the “Pressure” singer has also done her part when it comes to paving the way for new names in R&B.

Ari’s Mentors

Back in 2022, Lennox took the opportunity to mention some of the people she considered to be her mentors. During an interview on iHeart's Living Black! J. Cole asked Lennox about her experience of being mentored in the R&B industry when she was coming up. Ari replied by mentioning several names, including Missy Elliot and two of her grandmas. The “BUSSIT” star also included her label boss in the list as well, saying, “Cole, I would say that you have also mentored me in a way.”

Supporting New Wave Artists

As an established name in the entertainment industry, Ari has shown her support for a few of the newer names including:

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Alex Vaughn

As one of the hot upcoming R&B artists, Alex Vaughn traces her roots to the DC region, just like Lennox. Vaughn’s “Voice Notes” released back in 2022 marked her disruptive entry into the limelight. Afterwards, she went on to release “The Hurtbook” her debut album. The upcoming singer received an endorsement from the “Unloyal” star when she was given the green light to be the opening act on Ari’s “Age/Sex/Location” tour. Lennox personally handpicked Vaughn to be the final opening act for her appearances in the D.C. region.

Summer Walker

In addition to working together on several projects, Ari and Summer Walker are also close friends. Considered to be the new queens of R&B, the two teamed up for Summer Walker’s “Still Over It,” before returning for Lennox’s “Queen Space.” When Walker stated that she was over everything including performing music, Ari was there to encourage and support her through that tough patch. In an Apple Music video, covering a conversation between the two singers, Lennox told Walker, “I don’t think you should quit ’cause you’re phenomenal and you’re amazing and I just want you to know I’ve been there.”

In the video, it is clear to see that Walker sees Ari as someone who understood what she was going through – and could turn to for support. In 2019, Ari threatened to quit music after she failed to win anything at the Soul Train Awards. Taking to X (formerly Twitter), the “Pressure” star stated, “It takes a lot of energy to do these things and ultimately this was a hard loss for me.” The singer’s announcement – which wasn’t taken well by some users – sparked a huge debate pitting her supporters against those who appeared to be posting negative messages.

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