With ‘Nature’ London native Ragz Originale has delivered a nuanced debut album which blends an array of styles, such as hip-hop, R&B and electronic music.
If you haven’t heard the name before then maybe you’ve heard his work – Ragz produced the infectious smash hit track ‘Shutdown’ with Skepta for the 2016 ‘Konnichiwa’ album. As the head of the Mini Kingz collective; which includes two other interesting artists to watch and listen out for – #Oscarworldpeace and Cartae (who features on this albums closing track ‘She Said Run’), Ragz Originale seems to have all the attributes at his disposal to become a fixture amongst the ever-changing London sounds.
The album is executively produced by fellow Londoner Kwes; perhaps best known for his production and collaborative work with the likes of Loyle Carner, Solange, Micachu, Nao, Kelela, Damon Albarn, Bobby Womack, and ELIZA. When describing the album Ragz says:
“The beautiful lady on my cover represents my interpretation of mother nature. I believe the woman balances out all energies in life. The record tells a story from my conscience, based on experiences we go through with women. They are the backbones in our lives. Whether it is your mother or your soulmate.”
– Ragz Originale
The project opens strongly, and sets the pace of the 10 track long album with the sombre ‘Summer Blues’ (featuring Georgia) and the catchy head bopper ‘Proof Read’. Where ‘Summer Blues’ is a more of a metaphor and pathetic fallacy laden melancholy, ‘Proofread’ then instantly flips the mood with its bouncy instrumentation. Interestingly enough though, lyrically that edge from the previous track isn’t lost as in amongst the Rihanna/DJ Khaled ‘Wild Thoughts’ reference and plans to get rich, there is also the very telling warning that not everyone is to be trusted.
‘I check the bank, I proof read that bitch.
No long talking, we tryna get rich.
Check the stats, you won’t be match–fit.
Trust no-one. Can I get a witness?!’
Ragz Originale – Proof Read
After the third track ‘How Far’; with lyrics questioning the limits to love and featuring the subtle accompaniment of choral-esque chants and some great synergy between drum and synth instrumentation, we have the light and floaty ‘Another Way’ (featuring Ji Nilsson)before we reach the halfway marker to the LP ‘Kine’s Skit’.
‘Kine’s Skit’ is an interesting track, not least because we seem to have already heard a bit from the mysterious woman who interrupts the musical journey with her musings (during the first few seconds of ‘Summer Blues’). The enigmatic love letter is an interesting point in the album for more than a few reasons:- Is the person speaking Kine? Is this a letter Ragz received, or is it a fictional spoken word segment created for the project? Is the context to this letter hidden within this album?
Subjectively speaking ‘Kine’s Skit’ is an interesting snapshot of a relationship regardless of its seeming complete lack of context, and it breaks up the album nicely.
‘I Hope we can stay close friends…
And inspire each other…
Because I feel like I can be 100% with you.’
Kine’s Skit – Ragz Originale
The later half of ‘Nature’; besides featuring the excellently produced ‘Endless’ with its crisp snares and existential contemplations, is home to the three tracks that have served as singles backed with visuals from the project – ‘Disaronno Straight’ (the most recently released single from Nature, and highlighting themes of the dangers of love and alcohol whilst furthering the nature aesthetic of the project ), ‘En Route’ and the sultry ‘She Said Run’ (featuring Cartae of Mini Kingz, and where we again hear snippets of audio alluding to ‘Kine’s Skit’).
‘En Route’ in particular is a clear standout track for its punchy basslines, appealing “hey baby” refrains and its individuality within the album.
In Summary, Ragz Originale has delivered a debut that offers food for thought, with subtle careful production and promising vocals. It’s notable that he hasn’t shied away from the spotlight by hiding his voice away behind good production which can sometimes be the case with music producers that turn their hand towards a project with vocals, which is a great sign. What could be improved upon for the next project however is that with the focus on the themes of nature and women we get pretty clear impressions of how Ragz thinks but not too much of who Ragz is (not in a direct way at least, but there are indicators to his personality throughout the project). This mystique is probably on purpose and falls in line with the enigmatic ‘Kine’s Skit’ on the album – is this a technique to build intrigue for the next project? Time will tell.