DuJour Navigation

Ravyn Lenae is Ready to Shine

The Chicago-born singer just finished touring with SZA and is ready to step out on her own

Ravyn Lenae has spent the last few months supporting Grammy-nominated artist SZA on her CTRL tour, along with fellow Chicago native Smino, and surprise guests including Chance the Rapper, adding to the Windy City love affair. Prior to this she toured with Noname, an experience she says is completely different from the CTRL tour. “SZA has a completely different crowd, which is fun because I’m challenged in a way. I kind of want to steer people over to me to become fans of Ravyn Lenae,” she says with a smile. The 19-year-old Chicago native also gushes that touring with the powerhouse vocalist has been super inspiring. “SZA has really bad asthma and she’s on stage, flipping and twirling and her vocals are on fleek. I’m amazed at how she can keep it together and continue smiling and being pleasant,” the singer says with a smile on her face.

Following two sold-out New York City shows, Lenae stopped into Atlantic Records’s swanky New York offices for an intimate performance. With braids down her back and a pair of chunky black boots that she says are her “everyday boots;” Lenae has a colorful personality and a stylish charm that never seems to falter.

With captivating vocals and an endearing style, Lenae arrived on the music scene when she was just 16 years old with her debut EP Moon Shoes. Her follow-up EP Midnight Moonlight was released in early 2017 and dove into the romance of being a teenager and the at times melancholy mindset that comes along with it. Since being listed on Rolling Stone’s “10 Artists You Need To Know: March 2017” and Nylon’s “21 Cool New Artists 21 and Under” Lenae has been busy working on her upcoming EP, CRUSH. “It’s the start of a new era because I’m not 16 anymore,” the singer says of her new sound. “I think this is the shove in the face like, ‘I’m not 16! Get over it,’” she adds. “Anyone, even if you’re not in the limelight, goes through drastic changes between these years. To witness it through music is a completely different thing.”

Ravyn Lenae
Photo credit: Jingyu Lin

The five-song tape will feature her recently released single “Sticky” featuring Steve Lacy, a soulful and vibrant song laced with a certain sex-appeal. “The music is a bit more mature and sassy,” Lenae says, adding that listeners can truly expect a completely different Ravyn Lenae on CRUSH. “It’s a good thing! I strive to be a well-rounded artist and have everything I do be different or better than the last.” She continues to say how encouraging it is for her to be able to evolve as an artist and maintain supporters who have been there since her first songs. “They’ve witnessed this entire journey and it is really a beautiful thing.”

With 2017 coming to a close, Lenae reminisces on the year, saying how collaborating with Steve Lacy of Grammy-nominated R&B band The Internet was by far one of the highlights. Lacy has worked with J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Vampire Weekend. “When he hit me up, it was like the heavens opened for me,” she says, laughing. “I really wanted to take my music in a different direction and when I met him, it all made sense. It was a perfect match.” The perfect match has resulted in a sophisticated sound paired with honest storytelling that Lenae is ready to show the world in 2018. “I think it’s time for me to step out and do my own thing as a solo artist,” she says.