Ari Lennox on DC Cheesesteaks, The Sims, and Sad Disney Movies
The Dreamville singer answers quick-fire questions about her upcoming debut album, favorite throwback songs, and food vices.
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images
As a nod to the nostalgic, we're asking celebrities questions pulled from those revealing MySpace surveys that we all know and love—highlighting their innermost thoughts, feelings, and favorite things with Broadly's "The Survey."
We're in a large conference room at VICE's headquarters, the sun is slowly setting as staff are heading home for the night, and all that can be heard is our raucous laughter. Why? Ari Lennox.
On a cold February afternoon, the soulful singer stopped by to play new music for Broadly and talk about, well, everything under the sun. Akin to her debut album, the 27-year-old is an open book and she's ready for the world to get a proper introduction.
"This is me wholeheartedly and I don't care if other people don't understand it," Lennox tells Broadly about her first full-length album due this spring. "I'm just happy to finally have the full 360-version of myself in a beautiful body of work with the help of my beautiful friends."
Lennox has been singing since she was a baby, giving her first concert at 3 years old to an audience of one, her grandmother Holley. Since then, the DC native has put out two EPs; been signed to J. Cole's record label, Dreamville; performed centerstage at Essence Fest; toured with D.R.A.M. and 6LACK; and sang alongside the great Stevie Wonder.
Now, five years after dropping her first single, "Bound," and on the precipice of releasing a full-length project featuring artists such as Cole, Masego, Elite, and Ron Gilmore, Lennox is ready for her proper limelight. And because Ari loves all things throwback and nostalgic, she took our MySpace-style quiz below to get to know her even more.
What's the last song you listened to?
"Very Special" by Debra Laws with my boo.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, my baby, Galactus. He's an Akita and he pisses all over the god damn floor. He's an American Akita but they're originally bred from Japan, they were bred to attack bears. He's fuzzy and bushy.
When was the last time you cried?
The other day, I was watching The Fox and the Hound. The joint... man, that got me. It's so sad. Like, their love. They're best friends and everybody was against their love. It got me.
Have you ever dated the same person again after breaking up?
I have. My first boyfriend, we broke up and got back together again.
If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
Gladys Knight Jr.
Aside from social media, what's your most visited web page?
X Videos. More options and more organized [than Porn Hub]. Better layout, better template.
What did you do for your last birthday?
I was performing at the Heineken Room in New York and my friends surprised me on stage with a beautiful funfetti cake, which is my favorite cake. Paris [Cole] and Justin [LaMotte] and Breanna were there. It was a dream. And my boo was there, but we weren't boos yet.
Do you have any nicknames?
Old friends call me Sea Salt, because my last name is Salter. Or Cocoa, cause my real first name is Courtney.
Do you identify with your zodiac sign?
If you look of the description of Aries, it's literally me. Crazy, impulsive, firecracker, giving, sweet, but crazy. That's me all day.
Do you believe in psychics?
Yeah, I believe in all the wild, witchcraft stuff. I don't like to dabble in that, but I believe they all know something.
Have you ever had a tarot card reading?
No, never. But I want to, but I'm scared she might tell me imma' die tomorrow and imma' be paranoid and end up dying because I did it to myself.
If you could go back in time, what year would you go to?
1970 where Marvin Gaye was fine as hell and potentially single.
What's your biggest insecurity?
Could I be a good mom? That's a dream, I pray that I'll be the best mom ever. But I don't know. It's so important to me.
When you order Chinese food, what do you get?
Depends on where this Chinese food is coming from. From the mall: It would be bourbon chicken and lo mein noodles from Mandarin Express. But if I'm ordering in, it would be General Tso's chicken, fried rice, and lo mein. And some egg rolls. And some white rice. And some tea, homemade tea. And if we're in DC, I'll take the homemade chili cheesesteak. Howard University—HoChi—they make the best Philly cheesesteak I've ever had—way better than Philly. The Chinese know what to do.
What's your go-to karaoke song?
Coldplay "Sparks." You can do it very soulful and really stand out as an R&B singer.
Have you ever been in a physical fight?
Oh, honey, yes—with a white woman named Kelly when I when I was in middle school. This hoe tried me. We were playing capture the flag and for some reason, she felt a way. And I was like, "Bitch, don't talk to me like this." We dragged each other through the grass, but it didn't get as violent as it should have.
If you had to choose a different job, what would it be?
An interior design lady on HGTV or marine biologist on some 50 First Dates shit and sail my little boat up to Alaska. That'd be my dream.
If you could live in any fictional universe, which would you choose?
It would probably be The Sims 3 because there are more cheat codes to the millions. There are mad ways to have a baby and I'd be able to do my work while having a baby. And you can easily train your dog to sit, stay—in literally a week.
What is your favorite Christmas movie?
There's three: Jingle All the Way, Home Alone, and Santa Claus.
Is there any song that immediately makes you cry?
"Neither One of Us" by Gladys Knight. It breaks me down, honey. That and "Breakdown" by Mariah Carey.
What's currently your favorite meme?
It's probably James Poyser, the pianist from The Roots when he's making that weird face.