Ivy Sole Talks Growing Up Queer within the Southern Baptist Church & Mac Miller's Impact: 'He Bridged Generations'

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On the quilt of her debut LP Overgrown, Ivy Sole is caught in a state of duality. The illustration, by artist Gabrielle Patterson, captures the queer rapper-singer oscillating between blossom and decay; a bouquet of flowers seemingly grows out of her hair, her face framed by a lush backyard, whereas her proper cheek is an X-ray of uncovered bone.

It’s a seemingly contradictory assertion, however to Sole, the 2 components work in communion. “There’s one thing about being near dying on daily basis that makes you need to actually worth and cherish the life that you’ve got,” she says. “The different that means of [the cover] is there are components of me which were put to relaxation and I’m outgrowing these former selves.”

Overgrown, which got here out on Monday, is a sturdy, introspective hip-hop file from a precocious 25-year-old. Sonically, Sole navigates between the gospel-tinged uplift of her upbringing in Charlotte, N.C., and the grittier, spoken-word inflections of her present dwelling in Philadelphia, the place she’s lived since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. She sings and raps, with equal panache and measure, about psychological well being, black radicalism and self-love. But she’s additionally susceptible to rapping about drunkenly hitting on a scorching lady at a celebration, as she does on “Still Wasted,” which she calls the queerest music on the album. “I like ladies and I like males,” she says. “I like ladies loads although. Women have me on my ass, which is uncommon — I really feel like I’m a really calm and picked up individual.”

Billboard spoke to Sole about rising up queer within the Southern Baptist church, her connection to Mac Miller, and the way she approaches the 2 tropes obtainable for feminine MCs.

What had been a number of the issues happening in your life whenever you made this file?

I broke up with somebody about three, 4 months prior. I used to be attempting to determine what the subsequent steps had been. As far as music was involved, I used to be watching numerous my friends, a few of my closest pals, actually stage up of their careers and of their skilled life which introduced out numerous insecurities that I assumed I had put to mattress however hadn’t truly put to mattress. I had simply made one in every of a number of breakthroughs in remedy so far as psychological well being was involved. My relationship with my household was — I wouldn’t say rocky — simply in a transition section. There was only a lot happening. And I feel that Overgrown is like after the mud settled I knew what I had on the finish of it.

Now that you just’re doing press for the album, are you cautious about being pigeonholed as a queer rapper?

I feel that the identification in and of itself is vital and I need to be sure that I’m giving house and time for it as a result of lots of people have died for me to have the ability to say [I’m queer] with out worry of reprimand or repercussion. But I don’t need that to be the promoting level. I need the music to be the promoting level. [Queerness] could be a main element — however I’d reasonably or not it’s a element than the thesis. If you’re listening to the music it’s not what I’m main with. I’m simply main with myself. I’m main with my story.

You grew up in a reasonably non secular group in Charlotte. How usually had been you going to church?

Three days per week: Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday.

Wow. Did you recognize you had been queer?

I knew fairly early on in elementary faculty, aged seven or eight. I’ve a cousin who’s queer and he or she dyed her hair at school and did all these kinds of issues. That made sense for her and that was the best way she went by means of it. And the best way that I went by means of it was to attempt to do as a lot church-related stuff as doable as a way to stability out what I knew was the reality.

Almost like praying the homosexual away?

To an extent, yeah. Trying to determine the place I match inside the church group, it was clear to me that I wouldn’t be capable of. So attempting to fight that as a teen was fairly troublesome. Along with that, I used to be like, I simply don’t really feel like doing this. Like, I don’t need to be dishonest with myself.  

How previous had been you whenever you got here to that realization?

When I used to be in highschool, I had a traumatic expertise with one of many college students that I used to be instructing in bible examine, truly. Her older sister was out and masculine-presenting and he or she invited her to come back to church. And the day that her sister got here was the day the bishop of the church determined to do an anti-gay sermon. It was very horrible to see a toddler, like an eleven-year- previous, come to phrases with the truth that this place was not secure for somebody she cared about.

Would you say the affect of the church continues to be in your music?

That’s the place all of my vocal coaching got here from. I sort of have a concept concerning the intersection of secular and sacred music. I feel as a result of the Christian church was a bit of extra ubiquitous prior to now 200 years, you couldn’t actually have soul music with out gospel music, you couldn’t actually have R&B music with out gospel music, and in up to date phrases, you possibly can’t actually have hip-hop with out gospel music both.

How did rising up in two worlds — residing in a predominantly black neighborhood and attending a predominantly white magnet faculty — have an effect on your method to music?

I used to be uncovered to numerous music I in any other case wouldn’t have been into. During my center faculty years, the emo pop-punk second.

Who had been you listening to?

Paramore was life. Panic! At The Disco. Fall Out Boy was one other massive favourite of mine.

I noticed on Twitter that Mac Miller had an enormous affect on you.

The week after my 18th birthday, I went to Mac Miller’s present in Charlotte and the one that was opening for him was Rapsody. They all caught round after the present. At that time Nicki Minaj was nonetheless on her come-up, not at peak Nicki kind. So I used to be like, rattling, a black feminine rapper. I already felt like rattling, if Mac Miller can do that I can in all probability make this work by some means. Seeing Rapsody, I used to be like, that is 100 % a possible profession path. I began working for her avenue workforce.

What I’m gleaning from the multitude of tales about Mac was that Mac was really a connector. He bridged generations, he bridged niches in hip-hop, he bridged subgenres. He bridged very actual, loving connections with individuals. And, for me, he’s actually rattling close to the distinction between me turning into absolutely anything else than pursuing music.

How did you discover out he died?

I came upon he had handed Twitter. It can be fucking annoying and actually hurtful to seek out out that sort of factor unexpectedly the web. I feel as a result of he felt extra intimate and nearer to me than any movie star, I want I’d’ve came upon from somebody that I beloved.

The music “Bloom” on the file: my pal known as me whereas I used to be in Cali getting back from a present [and told me] that one in every of our pals had handed away. It sucked, it was horrible, it was very troublesome and it nonetheless is. But as a result of somebody advised me out of affection, I do know it felt higher than if I simply noticed “RIP Chris” on the web. That’s the way it felt when Mac died. Like, rattling, I didn’t need to discover out like that.

Was talking candidly about your individual points with psychological well being a subject you’ve at all times felt snug sharing?

It’s not one thing I’ve ever been ashamed of, per se. Mostly as a result of it makes a lot sense. Like, earlier than I used to be recognized with despair and anxiousness, none of it made sense to me. None of how I used to be feeling made sense. The undeniable fact that I can put a reputation and put signs and put therapy to an issue in my life is actually liberating.

You’ve stated that feminine rappers usually get to choose between two tropes: both the over-sexualized vixen or the socially aware lyricist.  

I feel that persons are lazy. I feel it takes time to market somebody exterior of these tropes. When you’re doing one thing like what Tierra Whack is doing, it takes time to domesticate that area of interest and backyard it. So it makes me completely satisfied that some persons are getting away from these norms. I feel it’s going to make for lots extra attention-grabbing and interesting music.

Do you’re feeling a duty to disrupt that binary?

I really feel like “duty” is a troublesome query for me, as a result of, in some methods, I really feel all of the duty to dispel one thing like that, and in one other approach, I really feel I’ve a duty to only be myself — and subsequently disrupt these issues. So it seems like sure, my reply is sure. And the longer reply is I’m going to be doing that anyway. I really feel an obligation to be genuine and to stay a life with integrity.

Check out Overgrown under: