Chicago R&B singer Ravyn Lenae dropped her debut EP, heavenly Moon Shoes, in 2015, and six of its eight tracks had beats by eclectic producer Monte Booker—one of her comrades in local hip-hop crew Zero Fatigue, which also includes idiosyncratic rapper-singer Smino. Booker has also provided the instrumental backbone for much of Lenae’s otherworldly work since then, and last year she appeared on Smino’s breakout debut album, Blkswn. Her creative relationships with Smino and Booker have made it difficult for me to imagine her music outside the context of Zero Fatigue.
But for her brand-new EP, Crush, Lenae branched out, teaming up with Los Angeles-based producer and guitarist Steve Lacy—he’s a member of Odd Future-affiliated R&B group the Internet, and he produced “Pride” for Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. Lacy’s rich production lends Lenae’s music a tactile earthiness, and on “The Night Song” (one of my favorites) he complements her angelic vocals with tasteful, minimal guitar strumming and pitter-pattering hi-hat.