Raury and The Musically Fluid Generation
Raury’s Debut Album Proves That Millennials Don’t Need Labels To Define Anything Anymore
19 years old, from Stone Mountain Georgia, Raury plays the guitar, sings ballads and drops rap verses all in one song. He wrote his first song at 3 years old, so he says in his radio interview on the Ebro in the Morning show on New York’s Hot 97. Is he a hip hop artist? Is he alternative rock? Or is he folk rock? What’s in a genre anyway? The question that I always cringed in life, “What type of music do you listen to?” I would answer with “I’m not sure, I’d have to give you my iPod and show you my playlists. I listen to everything.”
When I discovered the up and coming artist Raury, it was through the third track off his debut album All We Need. The track was called “Forbidden Knowledge”. I immediately added the track to my album favorites on my iPod. I didn’t know who he was, but I liked the song, that without a question was hip hop. Right?
The next morning I woke up with a faint memory of the complex drum sets and the eclectic intertwining of what sounded like computerized instruments. Only 7 hours had passed and I had to play the track again. On my commute to work that morning, I took out my iPod, pulled up the track and played it again. I looked at his name and album cover again. Never heard of him. Never seen him. I thought he was some UK artist. I played the track over and over again, about 5 times until I reached my office. I immediately pulled up my my laptop and played the track again. The song was one of those rare songs that took you away from the moment and captivated you with it’s rhythm, words and significance.
There’s a universe in her afro/hold us back though/there’s a power in the black folk.
I did a search for the entire album. All We Need. I played the album from the top. “All We Need” is also the title of the first song. Within the first few seconds of the track I heard a familiar buzzing amp sound. It was reminiscent of the first few seconds of “I am a God” off of Kanye West’s Yeezus album. I’m always ready for more Kanye. As I waited for the buzz to fade into the familiar base of drums commonly found in a hip hop track, I didn’t get that. Being a fan of not just hip hop, but alternative rock, indie folk and soul, I was pleasantly surprised. What I got was a guitar, more familiar to a faster-paced Bon Iver track. The opening to the first verse, Don’t hate my brother/God is our friend. I let it play. The next track, “Revolution”. Guitars, base, and what sounded like djembe drums. I loved this track too. I skipped over to the fourth track “Woodcrest Manor II”, he starts off with a melodic high pitched ballad. Referencing a nostalgic time of sitting in the car, with the windows rolled down and the Cudi turned up giving a nod to Kid Cudi, an artist who has also influenced Raury’s music as well. Raury is versatile. He’s eclectic, he’s challenging, he’s vulnerable — and it’s very rare to find all of that in one artist.
What made me fall deeply in love with this album created by the 19 year old Raury was his refusal to conform to any of the formulas that have worked for his predecessors in any music genre ever classified. He’s an industry and self-labeled millennial. And millennials have been making their own rules in the workforce, in sexuality and, in Raury’s case, in music. All We Need is unapologetic, just as his indie release album Indigo Child was youthful and honest to whom he represents from his generation.
Raury’s a young and maturing artist. He may still be growing into his style, but he does a good job at convincing us that he’s defining music on his own terms — without a genre, without categorization. He’s not afraid to drop a deep verse like Jay Z, or give us an alternative hip hop & rock beat like N.E.R.D all in one song. In that single track, he’ll also give us an indie folk love ballad — but not quite indie folk like Bon Iver. With millennials removing labels from just about everything in life that we’ve been conditioned to understand as normal, (heard of the term sexually fluid?), Raury is removing labels from his music and forbidding his album to be classified into one genre. Raury is a musically fluid artist, and that just might be forbidden knowledge.
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Reposted from my main author account Jenny Miranda. Happy Listening!