The day we speak to Raury he’s in Australia on tour with A$AP Rocky, enjoying exactly the kind of experience you’d hope for with A$AP Mob: “It’s crazy, man. He’s teaching me a lot!,” he says over the phone.
The release of Raury’s debut album All We Need at the end of last year showcased an artist experimenting with hip-hop, folk, soul, trap and R&B – all genres that permeate the American South. Most vivid though is the intelligent and conscientious lyricism of the record, an attempt to gently coerce his generation into thinking about the world around them, alternating between positivity and negativity about the future, while balancing a realistic attitude towards the present state of affairs in the world.
Like most of us, especially the young, there lies within Raury a multitude of conflicting ideas, thoughts and personas bursting to be released, always with the purest of intentions.
You know, I’ve been pulled in all sorts of different directions my whole life. I’m a kid that grew up going against the grain. I was that kid who didn’t sit with nobody at lunch. I’ve always purposely avoided things that other people like because I just knew I’m not like everybody else. So, all these different forces that have been trying to pull me in this direction or that direction – I’m immune to that. It’s been amazing; it’s been fun, but at the same time it hasn’t been completely all happy peaches, skipping down the yellow brick road. I’ve been dealing even more with the darkness and sadness that I’ve felt since I was 14 years old, you know, as I’ve been growing and finding myself away from home more and more. I came from the bottom. All my friends back in Atlanta are still finding their way and I’m like a leader and role model in my community. If I’m on tour for like five months I’m just thinking, “What are all these people going to do without me?” But that’s what I had to realise – that this is exactly what needed to happen. All these friends and people I love need to learn how to swim and get it in life on their own. It’s something I get sad about, but it’s also been pretty beautiful.
My mum raised me by myself and she’s just a strong woman, the strongest woman I’ve ever known in my life. I appreciate her so much and it’s thanks to her that I have the outlook on life that I have and the appreciation of women that I do. It’s down to her that I interact with people the way I do. People say I have a nice vibe and that’s because she has such a good heart, and is such a good and giving person. That’s why so much of my music tends to be about making life better.
As for the environment I came up in, there’s this little place in Atlanta called Little Five Points; when I was about 15 I started going down there and hanging out. It’s kind of like a little part of the city with a lot of organic and vegan food places and crystal shops where I got turned on to crystal healing. That’s where I first heard about what an Indigo child is, which is the name of my first EP. There’s this thrift store down there called Rag-O-Rama and I didn’t have all the money in the world – my mama did the best she could, but I couldn’t afford no Polo or Nike – but that’s where I started to develop my style.
Do I feel a sense of responsibility? It just is what it is. I’m making music that is relevant to the things that I’m experiencing and seeing. I’m just an instrument. What I see on TV and on my timeline, what’s in my face everyday, it goes between my brain and my soul turns it into a song. I’m just doing what I do.