Listening to 19 year old Raury’s music, one senses the influence of such prominent hip-hop artists as Kid Cudi and Andre 3000. Yet despite his young age, Raury has already managed to create a sound uniquely his own, blending hip-hop, soul, rock and folk in the process.
Just months after graduating high school in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Raury quickly rose to fame with the release of his first mixtape Indigo Child in 2014. For those listeners convinced that self-obsession and wanton aggressiveness had come to saturate contemporary hip-hop, Indigo Child, was a welcome surprise. With its inventive, upbeat melodies and inspirational lyrics, the mixtape was praised by many critics and fans as the debut of an artist interested in giving America an authentic message of hope. Raury sings in the mixtape’s title track, “War pt 1”:
We are the truth
We are forever
We are the youth
We are together
In the very first song, Raury sings as the proverbial voice of his generation – a generation that, for Raury, is both united and timeless, both young and standing for truth itself. He goes on to sing in “Seven Suns”:
Change the world
Change the world
And I left my friends
I left my love behind for a bigger cause
Watch: “Seven Suns” – Raury
As Raury himself says, his ambitions as an artist do not simply concern his own fame or personal relationships, but are rather concerned with larger causes. Much more than a first collection of songs, Indigo Child was the statement of a young artist aware of the suffering in the world and emboldened with the desire to sing about it.
All We Need (released Oct 16, 2015 via Columbia Records) is Raury’s debut album. Sonically, the folk/rap album is an absolute success. Raury’s musical ability is here on full display. He has certainly entered into the special rank of hip-hop artists who can croon just as well as rap.
From a lyrical perspective, the songs on All We Need exhibit the same desire for change that Raury expressed in his mixtape. In his new album, however, Raury deepens his message and project. The songs do speak generally about changing the world, but they also engage with modern society in a way few current artists are willing or able to do.
Among the album’s fourteen tracks, “Friends” is an anthem about the way social media has the potential to bring people together. The music video sees Raury asking people via Twitter for car rides in order to get himself and a friend from Atlanta to Chicago. He is seen smiling, having a great time and having no problems along the way. On his road-trip journey to Chicago, he also sings of Nepal, China and even the Sahara desert – calling for togetherness and unity not only in America, but also throughout the world.
Watch: “Friends” – Raury ft. Tom Morello
Though some of the songs on All We Need are, like “Friends,” joyful and lighthearted, many others mention more serious issues. In the album’s opening track, “All We Need,” Raury holds nothing back in asking us:
Who’s gonna save the dyin’ man from his hunger?
Who’s gonna take from the rich
and give to the ones who never had a chance?
Later in the song, he tell us what he thinks we need to do:
We need to discover love in the earth and sky and beyond
Love is what’s missin.
From income inequality to world hunger, Raury’s All We Need calls attention to a range of current societal issues. As a follow-up to Indigo Child, the passion and directness in his lyrics is admirable. All We Need is certainly ample evidence that a young, passionate, socially conscious artist is here to stay.