Unsolicited. A Cape Town-based artist, Ipeleng, has arrived in great support of underground Twitter. While sounding nothing alike, her support is giving her a lift off similar to Elaine’s “Elements”.
Un | soli | cit | ed - Not asked for; given or done voluntarily.
Without asking is unsurprisingly the theme of the album. On this 7 track EP, Ipeleng lays bare the pain of asking to be loved and how she wishes it could be "Unsolicited".
The short review: the EP establishes Ipeleng as a someone to look out for in R&B. The manner in which she crosses the difficult mental barrier of creating empathy with your listener over sympathy. Empathy is to understand and share in what someone else is feeling, while sympathy is to see someone's misfortunes and feel pity. Equally as sad but not as depressing, as an RnB act, empathy should always take precedence over sympathy. You should connect with your listener on an emotional level of "I've been there", not on the logical level of "It's so sad that you went through that". Ipeleng's ear is also on showcase here with good production from Zeeky Beats, Silverlion BM, BROKEBOY, LXVE and herself. The album has smooth transition and beautiful instrumentals that gives the vocalist a platform to shine. The album deals with themes of processing heartbreak, self-love and loss. Ipeleng's pen shines bright as a lyrical painter. It's an overall good project and many new listeners will be surprised at how polished she is. For a new artist, her vocal ability, pen, production choices and ability to deliver empathy is alluring and illustrates her potential. Her old listeners will smile with great joy at the growth and actual metamorphosis this former cover star has gone through.
Here's the long review.
The opening track, "Here We Are", lays it down clear.
"The thought of you just makes me sad.
And I wish we never met,
I see your face all on my screen.
And it always fucks with my well being"
Ladies and gentlemen. It’s lift off. Off on an emotional rollercoaster. The EP starts off with a missed call and the sense that this isn't what supposed to be happening. She sings in a beautiful sombre tone. Ipeleng is brilliant at expressing the clusterfuck of emotions, at the end of a relationship, which a person has. On this song alone, she expresses anger, sadness and longing. The song has 2 short verses, a pre chorus and a main chorus – she doesn't say much, she lets raw emotions and great production from Zeeky beats speak for her but don't sleep on her pen.
On the second track, "Committed", Ipeleng continues the theme with the mix of emotions here being regret, anger and confusion. All while painting the innocent love she has for this person;
"You show me how it feels to feel alive,
And you show me how it feels to want to die.
I don't even need to see the sky, it's in your eyes and in your lies.
I came committed, but I over did it.
You're so conceited, think about me for once in your life.
All the lies and the hurt.
And reducing my worth,
And reducing my worth,
And reducing my worth...."
"Committed", produced by Silverlion BM, has beautiful arrangement accompanied by thumping 808s and our vocalists wavy flow. These elements come together to paint the picture of a reckless partner making someone, who loves them, feel worthless and down (not like that's common and won’t catch on, lmao). She expresses wanting to leave her relationship but knowing that leaving won't stop the love she has for this person. With this realization brought forward to the listener, the stage has been set for a triumphant break-up song (think Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”) but instead Ipeleng goes the other way, "A Craving" is real, you can never just leave someone, there is no switch for love in the brain;
"Craving a little unravelling, a little dishevelling
Let's make a bit of a mess babe (let's make a bit of mess)
Nothing we can't take care of, babe"
The mix of emotions here is a little less heavy than the previous two songs, this is as close to happiness as we have got on this EP so far, yet it doesn't feel like a happy song. Produced by Ipeleng, the production simple – the arrangement is soft-hearted, and she lets her pen and voice do the heavy lifting. This is the song that pays off on the longing built up during the first two songs. She is now next to this person and there is short lyrical painting of well-needed rounds and in connection to "Committed", this paints what happens when the distance separating the two is cut. She can't help but love this person, all the anger she had is gone but as the length reveals, this is just a short break from the emotional rollercoaster of the second half of the EP.
"A Need" seems like the crescendo of the EP to me. Ipeleng carries the production from "A Craving" with a more layered arrangement, this song serves as the beginning of clarity through such murky emotional waters;
"I looked you in your eyes; to find some piece of mind
But all I could see was a vacant eye staring back at me
You show me time and time again that you don't love me enough to change
I contemplate the reasons I stay, I stay, I stay, I stay"
and acts as the calm down from the emotional rollercoaster, where logic takes precedence over emotions;
"I need, I need, I need, I need to find myself… for my mental healh.
And I need, I need, I need, I need to love myself the way I wish you did"
"A Craving" was where the longing was satisfied and with that now gone, all that's left are the negative emotions anger, confusion, sadness and regret for this person’s behaviour and even more regret for herself for still loving this person. It’s a little like post-nut clarity;
"I don't want to be the girl who doesn't know when to stop,
But I also don't want to be alone when the night time comes tonight.
Oh, I've spent my whole life searching, searching, for the best parts of what we had."
The clusterfuck of emotions is still there but this looks like the final stage acceptance… Yeah, there is still regret that it didn't work out, but she's realised that it’s time to move on. Conceptually, to get such a well-executed story through within 4 songs is amazing.
On the 5th song, "I Get Lost”, she builds on this regret as the last emotion to come to terms with. In a deeply personal track – even for this album. Ipeleng opens up about the mental health points she touched on in the "A Need" chorus, she's naked with how she feels about herself;
"Colours change and it’s bittersweet,
But I can't find where I need to be in this density.
To keep me alive,
My mother says 'It'll be okay',
But she's been saying that for a decade now.
And nothing’s changed.
No, nothing’s changd"
This verse is shortly followed by the pre and main chorus where it's revealed why this person's potential absence is a scary reality she might have to face soon.
"And I, I don't know what to do about it.
And I, I never know how to feel about it.
We'll get through it together,
We can barely hold it together."
"I get lost in the stars when I'm with you.
I get lost in the early fear, the early fear of life.
This world, this place is still in laughter,
It's still in laughter."
"I Get Lost". The production is stand out from BROKEBOY idk but the arrangement captures the "lost in the stars" mood perfectly.
Focus is the pivot on the tape, no longer is she asking for love from outside but from inside. The Unsolicited yearning is now from herself, in the track she opens about how much attention she's trying to put into just being happy and how difficult this is for her.
"There is a deep focus,
In the way that I move,
In the way that I talk.
There is a deep focus,
In the way I carry my cross"
"Even when I focus,
Try to see all the roses,
All I see are all the thorns.
Pulling flesh from my bones"
"It gets heavy,
It becomes deadly.
When I'm mixing my emotions,
With all these drugs without caution.”
“It's taken control of the inside,
And it leaves no place to hide.”
This track is the first to have no mention of "guy" and it represents the painful post break up rewiring your brain goes through. Escapism is very common in this media-based generation – we use movies, series, anime, books and sports while others escape into other people. And you can't escape in another person when that person isn't there – it's just you and your thoughts. It can get dark, really dark for others. Ipeleng's pen allows for this connection between listener and artist to flourish, this is by far the best written song on the EP.
"Focus" production feels like the standouts on the project, Ipeleng's voice and BROKEBOY's got that chemistry. Kinda like Lonzo and Zion for the Pelicans. It leads to album finale and closer.
“Patience” is a sombre production wise. Produced by LXVE, the tone and lyrics finds our vocalists deeply reflecting on loss and shows the prowess of her as an artist. Her pen, voice, ear for production and ability to create empathy over sympathy, she sings with a different type of longing on this arrangement. This is the type that is not easy to deal with, here Ipeleng shows a great understanding of her voice and how to use it to decorate an already great arrangement. This is her best vocal performance over a very difficult topic, LXVE’s minimalistic approach and overall arrangement captured the tone the vocalist was going for.
Ipeleng has a well-documented history as a cover singer, it's definitely helped her deeply understand song structure and how to communicate with her voice. Being a good cover singer requires a difficult balance of adding your personality to a song without putting to much of yourself into it and taking it off the rails but also not too little as then why should I listen to a low quality version of a song I like when I can just play the original? Ipeleng has mastered marrying your voice to an instrumental and presenting yourself within the beat – the first 4 songs perfectly show this. This is a polished project on her 3rd major release.
To thrive while making alternative music, it requires pure talent. Minimalistic music is an art. An artform which defies traditional and modern elements. It strips the music bare and makes the vocals the most essential component. Many people struggle to engage music without any pulse-driving drums, few and basic instrumentation or lack of melodic experimentation. However, for what the production, at times, may lack – she has personality, her voice is engaging and she knows how to write music incredibly well.
For the most part, the songs are often compelling and of a good quality – a truly difficult task when the music is slow, dark and barre. This is a great springboard to establish an audience for the eventual upcoming album. Unsolicited is a good demonstration of her all-around ability as an artist. She wears her alternative RnB influences on her sleeve, and she wears them well. An overall solid project that has something important to say, so in short,
Written by: Elijah Mwamba | Twitter @ElijahMwamba24
Edited by: Dithekgo Mogadime | Twitter @Dithekgom