Artist Spotlight by Madeleine Choné

The Facts:

  • age: 18
  • from: Atlanta, GA
  • latest work: Indigo Child Album

Ignore the fact that he’s booked to open Outkast’s homecoming shows, has been featured on almost every major music site, and has reportedly been approached by Kanye West to join DONDA, why should anyone care about Raury? Let’s just start by trying to label him with a genre. Every new song seems to yank him to a different end of the genre spectrum. His latest album is tagged as “alternative” and “folk,” but he’s also a rapper with heavy electronic synthesis.  He silences this labeling tug of war by housing his music under the umbrella of “world music.” The question of “what genre of music do you like” is waining from small talk everywhere and increasingly met with eye rolls. He is emblematic of the “genre-less” music environment our generation has been brought up in and exists as a self-proclaimed leader alongside genre-bending artists, producers, and icons of our generation like SZA, Blood Orange, Santigold, King Krule, or Alt-J.

After an interviewer referenced Pitchfork Magazine’s comparisons to Andre 3000, Bon Iver, Kid Cudi, Frank Ocean, and  Lorde, Raury flatly responded that he was “honored above all…,but I wouldn’t say that they are getting ahead of themselves.” This kind of self-efficacy is matched only by an early Kanye West. However, wearing a farmer’s hat rivaling the flamboyancy of Pharell’s iconic grammy accessory, he was able to exude a grounded authenticity that has yet to grace Yeezus. In short, he has seemingly been able to achieve the impossible: harnessing Kanye’s confidence without his ego. As most mega-stars self-aggrandize through isolation, Raury revels in the fact that he has “fans that want me to talk to them and want to speak to me about things. I just remain as open as possible with them and I talk to them.”

In a business increasingly dominated by live performances, it would be a mistake to overlook the promise of Raury’s showmanship. To quote the man himself, “I have big ass ideas. Crazy shit. My live shows will probably be one of the best things about me.” One of his first endeavors, “The Anti-Tour”, was a series of free pop-up shows in the parking lots of other artists’ concerts (check out this clip of him outside of Tyler the Creator’s show). This level of outlandish creativity is generally reserved for artists on a retirement victory lap, yet he has the self-assurance to match it. As he explained in one interview, “I want to give people time to discover me and get to know me before I’m bigger than Michael Jackson or some shit like that…I understand the sense of doing things real grass roots and taking a guerrilla approach.” He is obviously not pursuing the traditionally effective route to success. He is blessed with a calming and grounding poise that allows him to meticulously court a general public not just into fans, but invested followers.  His drive to connect with fans is even more clearly reflected in his music. Unlike most burgeoning talents, his debut album, Indigo Child, is characteristically lacking in star features, despite his sky high connections, and an indulgently personal overtone guides the entire work. He literally brings listeners into the most intimate moments of his life, including recordings of arguments with his mom about his decision to drop out of high school. When asked why he felt compelled to record these high intensity and extremely personal, he had no real response, commenting that he had a feeling they might be important later. Track to track, the only commonality in Raury’s music seems to be a boastful need for originality and a untested intimacy. Raury is a promising artist with an impressive freshman release and definitely an influence to watch out for, and it will be interesting to see if he delivers on everything he has promised. 

You can listen to Indigo Child and the rest of his work on his soundcloud:

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Also, be sure to check out the Indigo Child Project.

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