EP Review: Three Little Bees by Lil Lavedy
By August Edwards
How do you show gratitude? How have you grown? How do you speak with your community? These are just some questions Lil Lavedy illuminates with her new EP, Three Little Bees, released for streaming on December 21. This experimental hip-hop artist blends spoken word, chanting, and her unique rap structure with a grisly, haunting instrumental sonic environment.
Three Little Bees album cover next to the embroidered pillow made specifically for the album by Sophie Lund.
The malleability of a music genre can infinite in practice. That is one thing that Lil Lavedy opened my eyes to the last time we spoke for her 2020 EP release (which you can read about here). She uses humor, intelligence, and genuine passion for music to demolish all the stifling factors around her. “Bees are creatures of community and so is this album,” she said on the significance of this release. Community is a strong thread in her everyday philosophy and music experimentation, and one conclusion that can be drawn from Three Little Bees is that the appreciation and engagement with community is a lifelong, fruitful exercise.
Initially, the first track “Grief” sounds like it could be straight out of the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack, but it quickly gives way to blistering chaos; a collage of textures that conjures grief itself. The process of grief can quite simply be grueling, which is why the tone Lil Lavedy sets is fitting for the theme of this album. “My verse is about the confusion of waking up from an overdose just to shortly find out my friend Ianthe didn’t wake up from one. I wanted to capture how grief healing is community work with different stages, so I sample Ianthe and invite two longtime friends of mine, Jessie Williams and Sidhe Wyly, to share their grief on the track," the artist explained of the collaborative effort.
“Gratitude” has a drastic contrast happening; over the established dismal beat, Lil Lavedy recites colloquial bits of wisdom, hope, and certainly gratitude: “I’ll never be one of the greatest…it’s okay to be underrated;” “I am only punk so I've got the wiggle room to make mistakes.” Of “Gratitude,” she said, “I look back at my early 20s with a sense of gratitude for the first time in my life. I acknowledge the importance of making mistakes and send thanks to old friends who deserve it.”
The final track “Growth” exhibits the same morose, laborious ambiance. With lyrics like “If I’m gonna fight my demons gonna do it with kindness / ‘Cause my survival is one hell of an accomplishment,” there's a sense of closure, resilience, and valor. “Healing isn't always comfortable, but it can be kind,” said Lil Lavedy about the story behind this track. “I want to hold space for feeling that I use to consider intrusive with kindness and compassion.” She also expressed that she felt as though her last release, Hella Spiders 666, was chaotic and frustrated, which makes the growth she’s realized in herself all the more auspicious. Ultimately, the self-realization in Three Little Bees is palpable.
“There are two other important bumble bees in this album,” Lil Lavedy said of the EP’s production. “Christopher and Sophie Lund; my best friends. I have been apprenticing under Chris in production, and this album wouldn't be the same without early morning conversations about compression and attack. Sophie is the artist behind the album cover. She’s made the bumble bees entirely by hand, and hand stitched everything in the album cover. They're great friends and an even better Fortnight squad.”
Three Little Bees has reinforced what I chase in an album. In this streaming age, people love to discuss the merit of an album as a unit. It feels like a disservice to this EP to bring that discussion here, but Lil Lavedy’s latest release is a tremendous argument for the necessity and validity of an album itself. Personally, what I immediately pick up on and relate to in music is the story behind the music. Using the shape and trajectory of an album is a tool for an artist, and it's a joy to see that used in Three Little Bees.
One of Lil Lavedy’s strengths is that she’s a natural storyteller, which is a blessing because she’s got quite a story to tell. You and I have our own stories as well, and we're here to share and relate to each other. The artist says it best herself: “We can only achieve growth with the love and support of our community. Not isolation."
Listen to the album below and follow Lil Lavedy on Instagram for more updates.