Music

What's Going On With Ari Lennox, Lizzo and the Soul Train Awards?

Breakout soul singer Ari Lennox was nominated for three awards at last night's BET Soul Train Awards in Vegas, but took home none. Meanwhile, Lizzo, Beyoncé, H.E.R, Cardi B, Khalid, Summer Walker and alleged abuser Chris Brown all walked away with statues. Lizzo took home Video of the Year for "Juice" and Album/Mixtape of the Year for Cuz I Love You.

As a pure soul singer, Lennox had apparently anticipated winning Soul Train's Album/Mixtape of the year, given her dedication to the genre. She shared as much on social media this afternoon, threatening to quit the industry altogether after the loss.

"It's not just an award. It wasn't any awards show. It was the soul train awards. As you can see I'm a big fan of soul music and a huge fan of soul train's history," Lennox tweeted. "Being snubbed was something I always expected and was definitely prepared for, just not by them."

Later she wrote, "I made a soulful album. I never ran from who I am. I just expected that one platform to understand that." Lennox made clear that she feels she lost the award, because she wasn't "trendy" or pop enough.

That's when fans dragged Lizzo into the conversation and Lennox's mentions. One commenter wrote, "Lizzo didn't deserve that award. She makes pop music for white girls who have live love laugh tattooed on them."

Lizzo was the musical darling of the summer, and the inevitable backlash to her saturation of pop culture began a few weeks ago, just in time for this controversy. Lizzo's genre first became the subject of debate when she become the female rapper with the longest reigning No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, beating Iggy Azealia. When people asked if Lizzo was "really" a rapper, she responded that her melodic rap style is no less conventional than artists like Swae Lee and Future — few would challenge their status as "rappers." The question of who Lizzo's music caters to has also come up online of late, taken up by many including the ever-controversial Azealia Banks.

Now some are asking, based on her genre, where is Lizzo supposed to win?

Potentially at the Grammys, where she's expecting nominations in most of the major categories. That's a part of why Lennox's frustration is understandable: the current fixation with multi-genre, widely-appealing music like Lizzo's means Lennox's pure soul album probably won't get much other awards show love. Lennox, however, made clear that her frustration is specifically with Soul Train — an event specifically intended to honor soul, R&B and "the best in Black music." She "never meant to shade other nominees."

Grammy nominations will be announced tomorrow.

Photography: Eva Zar (courtesy of Universal Music Group)

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