To anyone who has forgotten, Raury was in the running for BBC Sound Of 2015. Although he didn’t win the title (admittedly he didn’t really come that close to top of the list), he is still an artist to keep an eye on. After all, he is a man who counts Kanye West and Andre 3000 as fans. His last album, Indigo Child (which was more of a mixtape than an album), was unlike anything else I’d heard before. This can, and is, often said about albums, but this album really was – it included several tracks that were recordings of his own mother lecturing him, something I cannot say to have heard before. I confess I did enjoy many of the songs on the first album, but I was not certain what to expect from this new album.
The hip hop/soul/folk prodigy, Raury Tullis, released his second full-length album this week. Titled All We Need, it is an impassionate and vexed fourteen tracks; sung and rapped lyrics cover topics from modern consumerism and poverty, to friendship and wayward lovers. His writing is full of angst and centric to the typical wide-eyed, teenaged view of the world.
The Atlanta rapper starts off his debut album crooning for peace over beautiful acoustic strings. With lyrics such as “Who can save the world, my friend? / All we need is love”, All We Need, could easily be mistaken for the songs coming out of the hippie era, such as Marvin Gaye’s with God Is Love.
There does appear to be an overall plea for peace and love on the album, a theme repeated in the lyrics of many of the songs. In Revolution, he sings for divine intervention over hand drums, 808 bass, strum-heavy riffs and background vocal chanting. The slow moving, Peace Prevail, has him praying for peace with a chorus of voices in the background whilst he raps to a tempering rhythm and melting bass. The hook in Friends sees the phrase “And we belong together / At peace” embedded into an upbeat song that is sort of a new wave ballad.
But not all the songs are about peace and love and unity. For example, Devil’s Whisper is a song about Raury’s aversion to the strip club lifestyle. It is written from the perspective of the Devil, hence the title, a contrast to Raury’s earlier single from Indigo Child, God’s Whisper. The phrase “You better run / Run from the devil” is repeated throughout the song, giving it a chant-like feel. Similarly, Kingdom Come is a song that has some very dark lyrics about all that is wrong with the earth – “I’ve seen the news and seen the lies” – yet all sung over a very happy beat.
It is undeniable that Mama tugs at a few heartstrings. The song is what is says on the label – a song/tribute to his mum that has been influenced by classic R&B tracks. Yet it is the sort of song that is perfect for children to play at monumental times of their life - cue leaving for university. With lyrics such as “Don’t you hurry / To feel I don’t think of you when I am gone / And I cannot pick up my phone” and “Mama, your boy’s a man now” over string glissando beats, it is easily a song that most people can relate to when it comes to mothers. Whist not the most musically interesting song, it is cute.
There is slightly more rapping on this album – or talking over music. And, unlike the last album, there are several collaborations on the album – not just in the writing but also in terms of vocals with artists like Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Atlanta rapper Key! featuring on the album - something that helps create variety.
This was a brilliant album – and so typical of Raury. In true Raury form, the new album is a big exploration of music. Each track has something different to add to the album, resulting in songs that don’t sound too alike. Not only does the album contain musical variety, Raury speaks of things other than heartbreak and falling in love. Although there are clearly songs about them, it is something that is quite refreshing in music. As a young musician, he is clearly still exploring the different paths of music and seeing where his music can take him. He may have only just released this album, but I am certainly looking forward to the next.