Review: Ravyn Lenae shines live

Chicago-based artist Ravyn Lenae gave a dazzling sold-out performance at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood Wednesday night, in an effort to promote her third EP “Crush.” The EP, which was executive produced by Steve Lacy, a member of the band The Internet, is an idiosyncratic take on soul music.

Ravyn Lenae stayed true to theme on the “Crush” tour, projecting hearts and arrows onto the walls throughout. Photo courtesy of Atlantic Records.

On Wednesday night, Lenae gave the audience a beautiful show. She performed songs from her past three EPs, singing and switching between various genres in ways most professionals can’t. Live, her voice was stunning, and at times, angelic. She sang in a whistle register that was soulful, smooth and reminiscent of Minnie Riperton and performed spoken word poetry over steady beats in the style of Erykah Badu. Imitating SZA’s soft singing voice, she found a way to harmoniously incorporate it into her own personal style.

She was wildly charismatic the entire night, and her youthful energy served as the interlude for each song. She asked the audience questions about love and long-distance relationships. She promoted body positivity and self-love. Her stage confidence, impressive for such a young artist, showed what a polished performer she  already is, as well as her potential to become even greater.

“Promise me one thing,” she said in the beginning of her concert. “Promise to move your body, and promise to sing the lyrics.” It was hard for the audience to break that promise, as she delivered her set in electrifying fashion.

She led the audience into a performance of her released single, “Sticky,” which was one of the best performances of the night. Her vocal delivery was what set her apart from most, and her ability to wrap her voice around a beat truly captured the heart and soul of a song.

She also brought out Lacy for their song, “4 Leaf Clover,” as heart and arrow graphics were projected onto the walls. The song expressed her jealousy toward a boy she has a crush on but who has gone off talking to other girls instead of committing to her. The audience went wild when Lacy took the stage, but it was still Lenae who won the most attention.

Next, she advocated for self-love in “The Night Song.”

“People like to stare/I don’t really care what you think/oo I like my hair today,” she sang, embracing the large, curly afro she was sporting that night. Easing into the chorus, she sang, “Got my edges on tight it’s a party tonight,” and encouraged other girls to love their bodies and natural hair.

As the night wrapped up, the crowd began cheering for her encore. She returned to the stage, gave one last speech, and began singing a stunning rendition of Outkast’s song, “Prototype.” Wednesday night’s performance seemed like only the beginning of what is sure to be an artistically innovative career.