Since the release of her acclaimed debut studio album, Shea Butter Baby (2019), Ari Lennox has kept us fed with a stream of standalone singles including “BUSSIT,” “Chocolate Pomegranate,” and the Anthony Ramos-assisted “If You Want Me To Stay.” Now, Ari has gifted us “Pressure,” a winning fusion of trap 808s and Motown influences.
Written by Ari, Johntá Austin, Jermaine Dupri & Bulletin Awards nominee Jai’Len Josey, and produced by Elite, Dupri, and Bryan-Michael Cox, “Pressure” came out swinging with the big-name collaborators. The contrast of the plucky bassline and the stuttering 808s gives “Pressure” a bit of edge in comparison to the tidal waves of new songs that we’re inundated with weekly. This is a less conventional take on the trap&b subgenre, and it pays off handsomely. “Pressure’s” production can’t just be pulled off by any old singer because it requires a vocalist that is able to express multiple layers of their voice at the same time. Ari rides the beat with the calm coolness of a rapper, but she also jumps into belts and seductive riffs with ample dexterity. Ari’s voice has an innate sensuousness that allows her to disguise the more suggestive lines in the song like “Love up on it, nibble on it, leave it pressure / I don’t want no drip, baby, spray it like you mean it.” “Pressure” is one of those songs that sounds very pretty on the surface, but is actually quite nasty after a couple of seconds of thought. The song is a sly ode to the beauty and importance of foreplay, and it gets the job done without yelling its message from the rooftops. Part of the success of “Pressure” is due to the decision to keep the hook relatively lowkey. On the other hand, Ari and her collaborators ensured the success of “Pressure” by drawing sonic and thematic inspiration from the chosen sample: Shirley Brown’s “Blessed Is The Woman (With A Man Like Mine)”
“Pressure” doesn’t waste any time. There isn’t much empty space in the song because Ari uses her time effectively and every note has intention behind it. If her new album is anything like “Pressure,” we’re in for a feast.