Greentea Peng RISING | London's Unique Soulstress Transcends Style
Evan Dale // Nov 20, 2019
London psychedelic soulstress, Greentea Peng exploded onto the scene last year with a string of experimentally diverse singles and a debut EP, Sensi. In 2019, on a similar sort of path, driven by the exuberant success of smash hit, Downers and a Colors Show performance for the same, she’s ridden the wave of further attention and intrigue with a sophomore EP, RISING.
And expectedly, it doesn’t hold back from its experimental lane. In fact, as Peng continues to unearth and refine her unique spin on the UK Neo-Soul movement, RISING ramps up the risks even further.
In a respectable move to create the project sans the inclusion of Downers – which might have become the attention whore of the entire collection had it been given spotlight – RISING brings into the fold five new tracks in accompaniment of leading single, Mr. Sun (miss da sun). And with six songs – many of which boast the feeling of multiple compositional parts – RISING is a well-rounded image of what Greentea Peng’s wide-ranging future may come to hold.
The first words that come to mind in describing the ever-evolving slate of that future are understatedand meditative. Brimming with vocals that exude effortlessness first and foremost, Greentea Peng’s texture is perhaps actually best paired with chamomile. Soft-spoken, yet heavily penned, she is a poet circling the impossible cohesion of lyrical honesty and aesthetic comfort. And in that identity exists musical effervescence incomparable to anyone else.
RISING opens with its namesake – sort of. Risin’ is a fitting title for a track that gets the entire EP started in a hurry before slowly sliding back into a continued state of mellowness and calm. In many ways, the EP unfolds in a manner reminiscent of Neo-Soul’s coalescence with jazz vocalism, and its connection to spoken word where unique, unpredictable musicality lays the framework for adjusting, evolving, thought-provoking deliveries from some of music’s most unique talents. Think Greentea Peng and think how well her music would pair on a playlist with that of acts like Poppy Adjuah, Murkage Dave, or Kojey Radical (who Peng just played a show with in New York City).
She is a vibrant and unendingly unique tile in an ever-expanding mosaic of South London jazz, soul, and hip-hop merging experimentalism, and RISING – Risin’ particularly – is an exploration of that jazz-driven lane of art.
As RISING moves forward, it progresses, develops, evolves, rises.
Inna City is a hip-hop adjacent soul delivery that envelops its listener in raw imperfectionism that makes it feel like a live performance. Saturn is floaty, low-key and driven by production, existing in the ear as emotively ambient when unconsciously listening, and when listening consciously, emotively poetic. Greentea Peng’s understatedness allows for such musical duality. Mr. Sun (miss da sun) and Sane are RISING’s undeniable crowd-pleasers. Anthemic and addicting in a sense similar to Downers, both tracks are already moving steadfast as her next step in further international attention, not belonging to the jazz, neo-soul, or hip-hop circles at all, but instead belonging to their indefinable grey areas, digestible and tuned to any ear with a taste for any lane. And yet, even as emerging hits, they’re subtle, gentle, and inventive.
And in that ability exists the true genius of Greentea Peng’s music. She isn’t delineated by any preconceived musical styling but is clearly influenced by many. She’s poetic in her penmanship, effortless yet evocative in her vocal delivery, and ambient yet thoughtful in her composition. RISING walks many lines between London Neo-Soul, jazz vocalism, spoken word, and hip-hop, but doesn’t necessarily adhere to any of them. Adjusting her stylistic ratios track by track, RISING emerges as myriad, mosaic pattern of new-wave invention and coalescence. When listened to with intent, it’s meaningful and conscious. But, thanks to the effortlessness in her register and its seamless union with her understated production, RISING also owns an ambient identity that allows it to fade into the background and soundtrack moments of meditation and focus.
As one of the more unique members of a London Neo-Soul scene that is already unendingly one-of-a-kind, Greentea Peng, with RISING, proves herself a necessary figure in one of music’s most necessary lanes.