Courtney Shanade Salter (born March 26, 1991), known professionally as Ari Lennox, is an American R&B singer from Washington, D.C. She is the first female artist to be signed to J. Cole's record label, Dreamville Records. She began gaining recognition after the release of her first EP Pho (2016) on the label. That same year, she made an uncredited guest appearance on Cole's song "Change". Lennox's debut studio album Shea Butter Baby followed in 2019.

Ari Lennox
Ari Lennox (cropped).jpg
Ari Lennox in 2018
Background information
Birth nameCourtney Shanade Salter
Born (1991-03-26) March 26, 1991 (age 32)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Years active2012–present
Ari Lennox Logo.png

Lennox has also been featured on the Dreamville compilation albums Revenge of the Dreamers II (2015), and Revenge of the Dreamers III (2019), the latter of which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and earned Lennox a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album.[1] In 2021, Lennox earned her first entries on the Billboard Hot 100 with her single "Pressure", and her feature on "Unloyal" by Summer Walker.

Early lifeEdit

Courtney Shanade Salter was born on March 26, 1991, in Washington, D.C.[2] to Gloria Salter and Shane Salter and spent her formative years in the DMV area. She attended Wilson High School and Duke Ellington School of the Arts.[3][4] Her stage name was influenced by Mary Lennox, a character in the film adaptation of The Secret Garden (1993).[5]

Musical careerEdit

2012–2017: Career beginnings and Pho EPEdit

Ari Lennox began uploading her music on the internet in 2009. She released her debut mixtape, Five Finger Discount, and debut EP, Ariography, in 2013. In 2014, she independently released the single "Bound".[6] On July 21, 2015, she was featured on Omen's album Elephant Eyes on the track "Sweat it Out". Later that year, her music was circulating around the Dreamville team, as J. Cole wanted her to work with him on some references for Rihanna.[7]

On December 8, it was announced that she was signed to Dreamville Records. She made an appearance on the collaborative album Revenge of the Dreamers II, on the track "Backseat" with Cozz.[8][9] On October 21, 2016, she released her debut EP titled Pho.[10] Ari Lennox later appeared on J. Cole's song "Change", and performed as an opening act on the 4 Your Eyez Only Tour during 2017.[11]

2018–2020: Shea Butter BabyEdit

In 2018, she went on to guest feature on two songs with her label-mates: EarthGang on "Nothing but the Best", and Bas on "Icarus". On July 16, 2018,[12] Ari Lennox released the first single, "Whipped Cream", from her debut album, Shea Butter Baby with an accompanied music video on September 5.[13] On November 9, she released two more singles called "40 Shades of Choke" and "Grampa".[14] On November 13, she then released two more singles called "No One" and "Pedigree". She then appeared on the Creed II soundtrack with Cole on a track entitled "Shea Butter Baby" on November 16, and released as a single on February 26, 2019, for her debut album of the same name. The track was accompanied by a music video on February 20, 2019, and surpassed 3 million views via YouTube within the first week. In December 2018, she was a supporting act on the From East Atlanta With Love Tour with 6LACK.

On March 27, 2019, she announced her first headlining tour, with the first leg beginning on May 12 and ending on June 14 in her hometown Washington, D.C.[15] Her debut album, Shea Butter Baby was released on May 7, 2019. Several times on this tour she was opened by Baby Rose and Mikhala Jené.[16][17] She also went on the road with Lizzo on the Cuz I Love You Too Tour from July to October. The second leg of her headlining tour was in Europe, during December 2019.[18] In February 2020, Ari Lennox was placed on BET's "Future 40" list, which is a list of "40 of the most inspiring and innovative vanguards who are redefining what it means to be unapologetically young, gifted & black".[19] She released multiple of singles in 2020 including "Bussit", "Chocolate Pomegranate", and a cover of "If You Want Me to Stay", as well as guest appearances and collaborations with Kiana Ledé, Skip Marley, 6lack, and Spillage Village, among others.

2021–present: Age/Sex/Location and Away MessageEdit

On September 10, 2021, Ari Lennox released the single "Pressure", produced by Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox. The song became her first solo charting single on the Billboard Hot 100, her first Radio No. 1 single, and reached number 3 on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay.[20][21] On March 31, 2022, she appeared on the Dreamville compilation D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape, on the songs "Coming Down" and "Blackberry Sap".[22] On August 12, Ari Lennox released her second single, "Hoodie", and announced the title and release date for her second studio album, Age/Sex/Location.[23] On August 31, she released the surprise EP Away Message, including the single "Queen Space" featuring Summer Walker.[24]


Ari Lennox describes her own voice as "vulnerable but soulful; imperfect but pretty". Her voice has been compared to Erykah Badu. Referencing her artistry, she explains: "Sometimes women are put in this box where we're only supposed to talk about certain things, I want to be braver and riskier. I think people want to hear that kind of honesty and frankness."[25] Ari Lennox said in multiple interviews that she is inspired by 90s and 2000s R&B singers such as Mariah Carey, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Bilal, Whitney Houston, Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, Amerie, Ciara, SWV, Mary J Blige, among many others, and soul singer Minnie Riperton. In an interview with The Fader, she also mentioned her admiration of Kanye West and how she found multiple other artists through him.[26][27] The Gateway described Ari Lennox's sound as "successfully blends individual slices of classic Motown, modern R&B, and new-age soul into one seamless product."[28]


Studio albumsEdit

Title Details Peak chart positions Certifications


Shea Butter Baby 67 38 7
  • Released: September 9, 2022
  • Labels: Dreamville, Interscope
  • Format: LP, digital download, streaming
36 13

Extended playsEdit

Title Details Peak chart positions


  • Released: October 22, 2013
  • Format: Digital download
  • Released: October 21, 2016
  • Label: Dreamville, Interscope
  • Format: LP, Digital download
40 20
Shea Butter Baby (Remix EP)
  • Released: March 27, 2020
  • Label: Dreamville, Interscope
  • Format: Digital download
Away Message
  • Released: August 31, 2022
  • Label: Dreamville, Interscope
  • Format: Digital download


Title Details
Five Finger Discount
  • Released: January 5, 2012
  • Format: Digital download

Compilation albumsEdit

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications


Revenge of the Dreamers II
(with Dreamville)
  • Released: December 8, 2015
  • Label: Dreamville, Interscope
  • Format: CD, digital download
29 4 3
Revenge of the Dreamers III
(with Dreamville)
  • Released: July 5, 2019[37]
  • Label: Dreamville, Interscope
  • Format: CD, LP, digital download
1 1 1
D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape
(with Dreamville)
  • Released: March 31, 2022[38]
  • Label: Dreamville, Interscope
  • Format: Digital download
11 6 4


As lead artistEdit

Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album


Adult R&B


(featuring Cozz)
2016 Pho
"Whipped Cream"[45] 2018 Shea Butter Baby
"Shea Butter Baby"[47]
(with J. Cole)
2019 11
"Got Me"[48]
(Dreamville with Omen featuring Ty Dolla Sign & Dreezy)
[A] 11 Revenge of the Dreamers III
"BMO"[50] 17 Shea Butter Baby
(with Dreamville)
2020 Revenge of the Dreamers III: Director's Cut
"Pressure" 2021 66 20 8 1 29 Age/Sex/Location
"Hoodie" 2022
"Queen Space"
(with Summer Walker)
Away Message and Age/Sex/Location

As featured artistEdit

List of singles as a featured artist, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album

"Nothing but the Best"[53]
(EarthGang featuring Ari Lennox)
2018 Royalty
(Kiana Ledé featuring Ari Lennox)
2020 28 Kiki
"Make Me Feel"[55]
(Skip Marley featuring Ari Lennox and Rick Ross)
Higher Place
"Black And White"
(Nasty C featuring Ari Lennox)
24 Zulu Man with Some Power
"Set Him Up"[56]
(Queen Naija featuring Ari Lennox)
2021 14 Misunderstood...Still
"Tidal Wave"
(Njomza featuring Ari Lennox)
(ARTZ featuring Ari Lennox)

Promotional singlesEdit

List of singles as a featured artist, showing year released and album name
Title Year Album
"40 Shades of Choke"[57] 2018 Non-album singles
"No One"[59]
"If You Want Me to Stay"[60]
(with Anthony Ramos)
"My Favorite Things"[61] 2021

Other charted songsEdit

List of songs, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album


(J. Cole)[B]
2016 21 11 9 23 63 4 Your Eyez Only
"Self Love"[63]
(Dreamville, Ari Lennox & Bas featuring Baby Rose)
2019 21 Revenge of the Dreamers III
"On It"
(Jazmine Sullivan featuring Ari Lennox)
2021 [C] 40 12 Heaux Tales
(Summer Walker featuring Ari Lennox)
48 17 10 Still Over It

Guest appearancesEdit

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
Title Year Other artist(s) Album
"Tell Me"[65] 2014 Felly Milk & Sugar
"Sweat It Out"[66] 2015 Omen Elephant Eyes
"Icarus"[67] 2018 Bas Milky Way
"Sugar Walls"[68][D] Masego Lady Lady
"Link Up"[69] 2019 Buddy, Bas, Guapdad 4000, Kent Jamz, JID Harlan & Alondra
"Don't Hit Me Right Now"[63][E] Bas, Cozz, Yung Baby Tate, Buddy, Guapdad 4000 Revenge of the Dreamers III
"I Got You (Always and Forever)"[70] Chance the Rapper, En Vogue, Kierra Sheard The Big Day
"Amnesia"[71] Bas, Kiddominant Spilled Milk 1
"Time Today (Remix)"[72] BJ the Chicago Kid 1123 (Deluxe Edition)
"Cliché"[73] Wale, Boogie Wow... That's Crazy
"Cool Off The Rain (Remix)"[74] VanJess Silk Canvas (The Remixes)
"Passcode"[75] 2020 Buddy, Smino, Mez, Guapdad 4000 Revenge of the Dreamers III: Director's Cut
"Revenge"[75] Lute, Omen, EarthGang, Childish Major, Reason
"Real Body"[76] D Smoke Black Habits
"Black Men Don't Cheat"[77] K Camp, 6lack, Tink Kiss Five
"Long Nights"[78][F] 6lack 6pc Hot EP
"Marigold" Dave James, Mannywellz
"Judas"[79] Spillage Village, JID, Buddy, Chance the Rapper, Masego Spilligion
"Sorrow Tears and Blood"[80] GoldLink Stand Up: A Global Citizen Prize Project
"Chocolate"[81] Kiana Ledé Kiki
"Ari's Tale"[82] 2021 Heaux Tales
"Access Denied"[83] Lucky Daye Table for Two
"Bed of Lies" JaeRene Unfinished
"Juicy" Vedo 1320
"Every Part of Me" Theo Croker BLK2LIFE: A FUTURE PAST
"Ghetto Love" Lute, Blakk Soul Gold Mouf
"Scenic Drive" Khalid, Smino Scenic Drive
"Run Too"[84] 2022 EarthGang Ghetto Gods
"Coolest Things" Buddy Superghetto
"Coming Down" D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape
"Blackberry Sap"
"The Others" Bas [BUMP] Pick Me Up
"What It Is" Arin Ray Hello Poison


  1. ^ "Got Me" did not enter the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, but peaked at number 3 on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart.[49]
  2. ^ "Change" features vocals by Ari Lennox
  3. ^ "On It" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100, but peaked at number 7 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.[64]
  4. ^ "Sugar Walls" features background vocals by Ari Lennox
  5. ^ "Don't Hit Me Right Now" features background vocals by Ari Lennox
  6. ^ "Long Nights" features background vocals by Ari Lennox


Film and television
Year Title Role Notes
2019 Dreamville Presents: Revenge[85] Herself Documentary
2021 The Game[86] Herself Episode: "White Party. White People. White Lies."



  • Shea Butter Baby Tour (2019)
  • Age/Sex/Location Tour (2023)


Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Year Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Grammy Awards 2019 Best Rap Album Revenge of the Dreamers III Nominated [1]
Soul Train Music Awards Best R&B/Soul Female Artist Herself Nominated [87]
Album/Mixtape of the Year Shea Butter Baby Nominated
Best Collaboration Performance "Shea Butter Baby" (with J. Cole) Nominated
NAACP Image Awards 2020 Outstanding New Artist Herself Nominated [88]
Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration "Shea Butter Baby" (with J. Cole) Nominated
South African Hip Hop Awards 2021 Best Video "Black & White" (with Nasty C) (Directed by Kyle White) Nominated [89]
NAACP Image Awards 2022 Outstanding Female Artist Herself Nominated [90]


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