Ravyn Lenae drops her new EP "Crush," produced by Steve Lacy.
This is soul music for people with a sweet tooth, for those unafraid of being seduced into a sugar coma.
Chicago's Ravyn Lenae is even more self-assured on her 5-track EP "Crush," crooning over Grammy-nominated Steve Lacy's (The Internet) signature SoCal soul. The two began collaborating together after Lacy DM'd Lenae, asking to work with her in the future. Their chemistry is palpable, as a 19-year-old Lenae steps out of her shell and into pink stilettos. Sweet, dreamy, and funky, "Crush" benefits from Lacy's surf rock, adding flirtatious guitar riffs and psychedelic flair to Lenae's vocals. A bit more comfortable and confident in her range, Lenae's voice is feathery, reveling in feminine intensity only magnified by supple, breathy "hoo-hoos" and "woo-woos." Her talent for harmonizing shines on this EP—something 2017's "Midnight Moonlight" (produced by Monte Booker) showed she was more than capable of handling—as she navigates an array of sonic textures.
Lenae and Lacy aren't the first singers to flirt with '70s psychedelia when reinterpreting R&B and soul, but they certainly add their own panache: Lenae plays with Mariah Carey-esque vocal acrobatics toward the end of "The Night Song," challenging her classically-trained soprano. The effect is silky and buttery against Lacy's bass grooves. On the hook she sings, "Hair down, feeling alright / Got my edges on tight, it's a party tonight / Feeling good, yeah feeling polite / And we're movin' all night, all night, all night." She's having fun and she's doing so in style, revitalizing the swag of '90s icons like Aaliyah and TLC.
On the single "Sticky," Lenae shows a vibrant side to her voice left uncharted in her work with Booker. Like many teen musicians, Lenae graduates into a woman through her music, embracing a more provocative and enticing sound. "Crush" is her femme-fatale, hear-me-roar project with a healthy dose of grown woman sugar and glitter. This is soul music for people with a sweet tooth, for those unafraid of being seduced into a sugar coma.
And as most R&B and soul does, "Crush" lightly ponders the games of love: unrequited love, the looming fear of rejection, virtual love, long-distance relationships, and self-love. The duet "Computer Luv" finds Lenae and Lacy singing about the virtual confines of a relationship, and when the two will risk intimacy in the flesh: "When will I meet you / I'm down to see you / I wanna see you right now / It's been a year now." The immediacy of their voices is telling of the emotional and physical inadequacy of trying to love someone through a computer screen. It's one of the more tender moments on the EP, as Lacy wraps the chorus in an acid-drenched guitar riff. (Again, try not to feel like Aaliyah was in the recording room.)
The EP's closer "4 Leaf Clover," another duet, harmonizes why a lover is being mean, pushing and pulling until finally giving in. Lenae's sentiments are rooted in emotional longing and physical desire, human capacities that can leave you emotionally bankrupt, but "Crush" argues love's sugar rush is worth the migraine. Dazzling and lightly drizzled in psychedelia, Ravyn Lenae's reinterpretation of the love language is like being under the sheets, tangled in the body of a loved one, entirely intoxicated and enamored, if only in your mind.
Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.
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The ice cream company released a powerful statement this week.
With Black Lives Matter protests popping up left and right, lots of well-known public figures and companies are taking a stand against police brutality.
Celebrities are putting their lives on the line protesting, childrens' toy companies are donating tens of thousands to organizations like the NAACP, and even infamous YouTube stars are hitting the streets. But Ben & Jerry's—yes, the ice cream brand—have made the most detailed statement of all.
"The murder of George Floyd was the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy," reads a lengthy statement on the Ben & Jerry's website. "What happened to George Floyd was not the result of a bad apple; it was the predictable consequence of a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black bodies as the enemy from the beginning."
The statement continues: "Four years ago, we publicly stated our support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Today, we want to be even more clear about the urgent need to take concrete steps to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms."
Ben and Jerry then outlines a four-step plan to end white supremacy. First is calling on President Trump to disavow white supremacy, instead of calling on the military to shoot American protesters. Second is calling on Congress to pass H.R. 40, a bill with instructions to study racism, its deep roots in American history, and how antiquated beliefs are still prevalent today. Third is creating a task force to help increase police accountability, and fourth is a "call on the Department of Justice to reinvigorate its Civil Rights Division as a staunch defender of the rights of Black and Brown people." Trump has never made plans even half that detailed!
It's a little sad that ice cream companies are more adamant about ending centuries of white supremacy than our own government officials even at the state level. Especially when other companies have issued statements that attempt to overshadow their previous racist actions, Ben & Jerry's commitment to justice is admirable. Ben and Jerry are officially the two coolest white boomer men we know, and we will be celebrating by vacuum-inhaling three pints of Chunky Monkey.
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