Artist to Watch: Ivy Sole
On Eden the native North Carolina rapper, Ivy Sole, serves us a healthy portion of soul food that tastes good and is surprisingly good for you. And with each new listen she grants us access to deeper regions of her proverbial garden with fruit more abundant than before.
On its surface the 12-track album reads as a bashful divulgence of love in its infancy. The songs You Don't Know My Name and the album opener Lost Without You—both influenced by earlier ballads—certainly reflects this revelation. Each evokes memories of first crushes, unrequited affection, and quickened heartbeats. Ivy’s vivid storytelling leaves you feeling like the shy teen you once were, stealing glimpses of your crush in the back of the room during Math class. Too preoccupied with the thought of potential intimacy to be bothered by useless derivatives. Nowadays we often hear of love gone sour, or worse, of hypersexual lust which gives the impression that there’s no more room for butterflies in our Tinder induced hookup culture. It’s encouraging to hear that intimacy is still a worthy goal, and that even in college (where Ivy wrote the entire project), it matters.
But I would be wrong to stop there because beneath courtship’s thin veil we see the true dynamism of the project take form. The iterative process of going astray, the resulting apprehension, and the eventual resolve serves as the project’s overarching theme. We hear Ivy Sole fall, dust herself off, and get back up. And when she stands back up again boy does she glow.
The Vow, the album’s centerpiece, shows off her dexterity as both singer and rapper. In it she describes the precarious nature of getting out your dreams as a young adult. Tinged with a bit of survivor’s remorse her lyrics adroitly maneuver through life’s many land mines—incarceration, early pregnancy, and debilitating student loan debt to name a few. However she manages to escape those setbacks reaffirming her promise to stay true to the game.
Spirituality is another prominent element within her bountiful world of love and ambition. This is obvious as Eden conjures up comparisons to the biblical garden. The rapper’s name too hints at something more metaphysical. Her “third eye” is wide open as she ruminates on whether the road she follows is of her design or that of a higher power in Master Plan. However that doesn’t stop her from Cloud Kickin' as she continues to reach a higher purpose. Self-reflection is central to this body of work, but can sometimes be gratuitous. In one song she raps in the point of view of a guy as he builds up his suitor to an unreachable pedestal. Sometimes a simple “can we chill?” would suffice.
On Eden we witness an artist that has found her voice and is no longer afraid to use it. With her first solo release she makes the decision to depart from the well-traveled road of her college-inspired predecessors (see: Asher Roth, Hoodie Allen, Chiddy Bang) that tend to fixate on academia’s more hedonistic pursuits. It is apparent that she would much rather wax tales of affirmation and self-discovery—indelible lessons that also accompany the college experience. Now fresh out with an insatiable hunger for success, her earlier decision to stay true looks promising. I am positive her garden will prove plentiful for years to come.