July 11, 2020
“It’s abolition or bust, you gotta trust me.” This message comes to us loud and clear from the Charlotte-native, Philly-made rapper, singer, and producer Ivy Sole. Sole is making her stance well known as the call for liberation crashes through the chorus of her latest single, “Bittersweet.” It’s a song that explores the necessity for action and the yearning for togetherness, whether it be across a moral battlefield or a physical space.
The track is the first non-collaborative release from Sole since the premiere of her debut album, Overgrown, in September of 2018. Since that record dropped, she’s participated in a variety of collaborations, such as the indie hit “Elevator Girl” with Shura and the electronic Dilla-pop influenced “Ultraviolet” with Birthh.
After this hiatus from solo work, Sole is back and has a lot more to say. “Bittersweet” arrives not only as Sole’s first original single since Overgrown, but also as the first track that Sole has fully produced, mixed and mastered on her own. The song radiates with the energy of Sole’s deepest identities; someone who wants to be loved and who is fighting for the freedom and safety of her people. The lyrical themes at work interplay with one another, tying the love of a partner into touch, and how that touch can be gentle and rough at the same time – all mirrored and juxtaposed against the severe violence that Black Americans suffer from police brutality.
The lines, “I want both hands around your waist / and your chin grazing my shoulder / your lips all on my ear to convince me I should stay over” are followed by “I want nails in my back / and I want heels on my spine / and I want thighs on my hip / I want you time after time.” They create a dizzying portrait of how Sole interprets herself as a lover and a guardian against those who would attack her and her people.
“‘Bittersweet’ toes the line between reminiscing about the past and dreaming forward to the future,” Sole said. She recalled her upbringing and how it ties into her adult understanding of what it means to be Black in the United States today, and how that connects to the current health crisis. “I’m contemplating how our current [health] status renders us unable to feel close to one another, except for our desire for freedom. I feel my most free when fighting to free others and in the arms of my lover.”
Ivy Sole has returned at a time of great division with both a banner of love and a declaration of defense. In a time when people are choosing between being lovers and being fighters, she has refused to compromise either part of herself, standing firmly in her path as someone who can be both.
Listen to the single “Bittersweet” by Ivy Sole.