On Sunday, June 5, fans came in droves to see Chicago-born singer Ravyn Lenae perform songs from her debut album, HYPNOS at VINYL, one Center Stage’s three performance venues in Atlanta.
After releasing a number of EP’s independently, HYPNOS is Lenae’s first body of work backed by a major record label, as she is a recent Atlantic Records signee. With a music career dating back to her teenage years, the 23-year-old was taken under the wings of the Zero Fatigue collective, founded by St. Louis rapper, Smino and has since worked frequently with artists such as Steve Lacy, Saba, and Noname.
This being her first project since 2017’s CRUSH EP, there were high expectations of HYPNOS with fans from all over ecstatic to hear and see her after five years without a project from the songstress. As a fan myself, I was also looking forward to hearing the new album, that was released in May, performed live. Many fans had hopes of her performing songs from older projects as well.
Special guest and opening act 22-year-old Unusual Demont provided the right amount of energy to amp up the crowd, including songs from his 2021 project HUES. The singer admitted he was equally excited as them to see Lenae’s performance. Lenae soon took the stage, first performing “Satellites,” a dreamy track produced by Lacy and Monte Booker. The crowd swayed and sang along as Lenae crooned high and sweet, with a tone reminiscent of the late great Minnie Ripperton. A classically trained vocalist, this came to Lenae with ease and no missed notes. The band complimented her well as the bassline transitioned to a funky 70s inspired beat. True fans of the singer knew exactly what came next, as this was the bassline to her hit “The Night Song” from Crush. Lenae danced along with the crowd, her cherry red braids flowing through the air. She continued to go back and forth between performing songs from both projects, with fans singing every word.
Themes of HYPNOS include love for self, love for others, and honoring where you come from– sentiments that she expressed throughout the show. While performing her song “Where I’m From” featuring singer Mereba, she shared with the crowd, “I wrote this song for us,” the “us” being her fellow Black people. “To lifelong journeys, Black people…” Lenae began before performing the outro to “Inside Out” from HYPNOS, “we need to love ourselves, to trust ourselves, and believe the skin we’re in.”