Just by looking at my blog or the way I dress or the photos I post on Instagram, it’s probably pretty obvious that I’m a lover of all things independent – music, culture, and whatever else I can get in touch with. Recently, though, I’ve branched out, especially when it comes to music. I have fully accepted that I love “Hotline Bling” and “Can’t Feel My Face” and “Sorry” just as much as everyone else does. I bought an issue of The Fader with Rihanna on the cover and an interview with Drake, and I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent reading it. I’ve grown to just go along with what I’m drawn to, and recently, that’s been hip hop. Believe me, I’m as surprised as you are.
The attraction and interest really started with mainstream songs as well as the fact that I couldn’t log onto social media or walk down the street without hearing or seeing someone talking about “running through the 6 with [their] woes.” It continued with The Weeknd and it really peaked when I discovered Raury, who creates genre-defying music that was being promoted by a handful of people that I really admire, including Tavi Gevinson and Jaden Smith. I’d seen his tracks described as rap-folk and hip hop and countless other things, but I was most intrigued by the audience he seems to be drawing. Given my obsession with Spotify, I decided to give All We Need a listen, and I was immediately hooked and captivated by the magic and the power that Raury creates through his music.
All We Need has been broadcasted as an album for millennials. A genre-less album meant to make us think about society’s need to categorize everything. The alienation and resentment that comes when we put everyone and everything into a box, and how this is what separates us from each other rather than bringing us all together. Everything I looked at described it as a record full of happiness and love, but also full of references to racial issues and systematic social problems and revolution and change. A record that youth would understand. All of that made my heart flutter and it sounded like something right up my alley, and as soon as I put it on, I realized just how important it is, especially for our generation.
The album begins with the title track, and it does make you realize how fresh and current Raury is, not only in his lyrics but in the production and instrumentation of the songs. It’s incredibly good – if it hadn’t been so good, it’s pretty likely that I would have stopped listening to the album straight away. The song discusses changing the world, how history is repeating itself, and that love is really what we need to drive out all the hate. These themes continue throughout the rest of the record, and I think it’s brave and courageous that a nineteen-year-old has given such important thoughts for the world to consider.
“Revolution” is about exactly what it sounds like. Once again, it adds to the importance of the record. Raury lays it all out for anyone who will listen. He discusses the ridiculous amount of power in the American government and he asks about who’s protecting those who really need to be protected. He goes on to repeat that “the future is the children,” and you can tell that he means every single word that tumbles out of his mouth. Raury is a true artist, and he has a bigger vision than I can even imagine. Just listening to his words inspires me to no end and really instills me with the confidence that the right people will be able to change the world. Not many musicians can do that, let alone one who’s just releasing his debut album.
The next track, “Forbidden Knowledge,” is probably my favourite song on the entire record. It struck about a thousand and one nerves when I first listened to it. It’s as powerful as you can get. The lyric “there’s a universe in her afro, hold us back though, power in the black folk, well that’s forbidden knowledge,” nearly killed me. It connects back to all the pain that the world has felt over the past year and beyond. It brings back Ferguson and Sandra Bland and #BlackLivesMatter and it’s absolutely phenomenal. Raury doesn’t demonstrate any fear. He sings about what he knows and what he wants the world to know. He’s hit an incredible sweet spot that allows him to use what he loves to reach out to an entire generation, and it seems like people are listening.
All We Need feels just as inspiring and intense as you go on. “Peace Prevail” is breathtaking, with a soaring chorus that instills mass amounts of hope into the listener. “Crystal Express” is just as beautiful and positive. It feels loving and empowering. Lines like “you came here for a reason” and “we all need light” do nothing but make you consider the best parts of life and what we can all do to hang onto them and to constantly create more of them. “Friends,” the last track on the record, is the perfect way to end off. Essentially, it’s about how much we need other people. I think that can be an easy thing to forget, and this serves as a constant reminder of all the incredible friends we have in our lives and all the different people we can come to know. All in all, this album is overwhelmingly significant and powerful.
Raury is truly a revolutionary. More than that, I believe he makes his listeners feel like they are, too. His debut record can make us all realize the importance and the pain of everything that’s occurring all over the world right now, and the potential and the ability that we have to change things. His music gathers world-changers and millennial kids and dreamers, because his music feels like it belongs to us. It feels like it belongs to a group of misfit individuals who have the ability to become so powerful that they could turn everything around. All We Need feels like a calling, like a plea for us all to act in any way that we possibly can to change what our world looks like now into something infinitely better. This kind of rebellious, far-reaching music is essential for society right now. I feel lucky just knowing that Raury has given the public such a momentous piece of art for us all to devour, and I can’t wait to hear whatever else he’s willing to share with the world.