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Ivy Sole's 'Life' Reassures That Pain Is Temporary

Sometimes life confronts us with the very things we're attempting to flee. That's the raw inspiration behind the first video from Philly-based artist Ivy Sole's sophomore EP East.The visual for "Life," premiering on NPR today, depicts the story of a protagonist battling his own demons.

Directed by The Brothers Ed, the video's treatment was inspired by the 2012 death of a friend of Sole's who took his life during her sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania. A native of Charlotte, N.C. who became obsessed with music as a kid, Sole pursued spoken word when she wasn't earning a degree in marketing and Africana studies. Since graduating, she remains at U Penn as an academic advisor committed to helping other black students graduate. But it's on "Life," the denouement of a six-song personal narrative, that Sole offers her most sincere guidance counseling.

"Life is short
Life is simple
Life is joy
And life is pain
Life is wonderful
And terrible
But it's beautiful
And love's the same"

"The lyrics are really my mantra. It's how I remember that pain or struggle is temporary in the midst of a trial," says 23-year-old Sole, who uses her own battles with depression to undergird her music. "I think my mental health often makes me feel despair even when there is light and love around me, but being able to see through the fog of depression and anxiety is something so invaluable to me."

Just as the video's protagonist, played by actor Niguel Quinn, saves himself from taking his own life in the end, Sole chooses love of self to illuminate the darkness. It's an enduring message.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rodney Carmichael is NPR Music's hip-hop staff writer. An Atlanta-bred cultural critic, he helped document the city's rise as rap's reigning capital for a decade while serving on staff as music editor, culture writer and senior writer for the defunct alt-weekly Creative Loafing.