This Raury article was written by Eleanor Wallace, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Sam Forsdick
19-year-old Raury is becoming increasingly recognised across hip hop and pop circles as a combination of a whimsical rapper and wide-eyed flower child, ready to take on the world with ambitious compositions full of anarchic ideologies. The opening title track ‘All We Need’ channels elements of British progressive rock music, like that of Pink Floyd and The Beatles, complete with harmonious voices, the strum of Raury’s acoustic guitar and sombre violins. It’s a great start – the amplified cry of “Who can save the world, my friend?” echoes with graceful musicality.
His shifting between genres means that amongst folk-inspired riffs, fast-paced, socially-conscious rap interjects, inciting a feeling of ‘Revolution’. This second track opens with Spanish guitar and is carried by hand drums; an afro-beat that takes it in more of a traditional direction, and yet the rap is New Age: “Rotting from the inside-out / Blood yet clout and clot the jugular of the insipid motherfucker called ‘humanity’ / Raping and damaging everything in its way / Its daughter will be raised on McDonald’s and gasoline water”. The gravity of the subject matter is obvious, but the arrangement doesn’t quite hold our attention when we really should be listening.
‘Forbidden Knowledge’, packed to the brim with tongue-twisting rap, has an electronica sound, but is stripped down in the verses from Raury and Big K.R.I.T.. Raury’s lyrics are inundated with satirical rhyme – “There’s a universe in her afro / Hold us back though / There’s a power in the black folk / But that’s forbidden knowledge” – but the rap fidgets, not quite matching the ebb and flow of his collaborator. What should be a defining track on this album falls short of being truly memorable.
While tackling racial injustice and the corporate world, Raury remains a young man at heart, spending ‘CPU’ pining after a lover: “I could lose it all in the flames and still have you”. This song is haunting, with long cries in the chorus and a seductive quality to his words. The theme of an all-encompassing love is continued in ‘Her’, complete with the rise and fall of a waltzing synthesiser. Perhaps amongst the constant reminders of a world in disorder, Raury’s lovesick lyrics are meant to be a refreshing escape.
The unusual fusion of sounds keeps you listening, but occasionally sound a little sickly-sweet. Take ‘Friends’, for example – the uplifting epilogue to the album containing a crescendo of punchy chants: “I have some friends who are the future”. Raury is connecting people, once again rousing this idea of a “revolution”, but the track sounds dated and lacks the inspiring, rebellious tone in his other heavier tracks. A clear talent in songwriting and a hippy-ish mindset make for a charming combination, and his psychedelic EP ‘Indigo Child’ was a master class in combining genres. This album, however, feels a little more erratic. The message is clear, but the delivery doesn’t quite breach the ozone.