North Carolina native grows an R&B/hip-hop hybrid in Philly

North Carolina native grows an R&B/hip-hop hybrid in Philly

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Ivy Sole is sure to grow on you, like her name implies. The queer R&B singer is turning heads from the south to the north with her debut full-length album “OVERGROWN,” deftly walking the sometimes-blurry lines between smoldering modern soul music and the assured lyrical swagger of hip hop.

The cross-pollinating fusion of R&B with hip-hop has been around for a minute or two and Sole sings the praises of the earliest  pioneers of that musical marriage for inspiring her style. 

“Obviously, Lauryn Hill,” Sole said of her musical influences. “I do credit her along with Queen Latifah and Lil’ Kim for piquing my interest and seeing myself as a hip-hop artist.”

Sole currently resides in Philadelphia while attending the University of Pennsylvania, but she grew up in Charlotte. Sole said both regions have had a profound and indelible impact on her style, even if she sometimes seems to favors her new home over the region she grew up in. 

“I think that my music reflects growing up in a household that put a premium on gospel and soul music,” she said. “But I also think that the neo-soul movement of Philly influenced me even before I moved to Philadelphia. I would probably say [I identify more with] Philly because of the Jill Scotts and the Musiq Soulchilds and The Roots of the world. I’m a direct descendant of that path. Any time you hear gospel chords, heavy bass lines and soul samples, that’s Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s my bloodline — the musical and oral tradition I was born into. When you hear neo soul elements, glittery strings and anything a bit more aggressive and gritty, that’s Philly.”

“OVERGROWN,” is an impressive effort detailing a black queer artist’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance while trying to navigate love, trauma and heartbreak.   

“It represents growth from my past self,” Sole said of the significance of the album title.

With R&B and hip-hop often charging in a more synthesized and electronic direction these days, “OVERGROWN” feels like a welcome breath of fresh air. Whether other artists will follow in the same direction remains to be seen, but Sole thinks there is room for organic and digital exploration on the charts, minds and the playlists of hip-hop and R&B fans out there.   

“I hope that musicianship will come back,” she said. “It creates a different experience for the audience. I think that there are some boundaries to be pushed on the digital side of things. I’m hoping to see a marriage of the two to merge the digital and the analog of hip-hop and R&B.”

For now, Sole is focused on the live execution of her new music and taking her songs to the people before she can think about writing new music. 

“We are planning to hit a couple of cities and bigger markets this spring,” she said. “With the album coming out, we have videos and live versions of the songs [to work on]. Those are the priority. My music is very personal and I can’t really write about what I haven’t experienced. So I’ve got to live some life before I think about making a new album.” 

Ivy Sole performs 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Milkboy, 1100 Chestnut St. For more information or tickets, call 215-925-6455.

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