By Elijah Harris
“Who can save the world, my friend?” Raury croons this question on the title track “All We Need,” a song with a soulful and folkloric sound that’s calling for peace on the Atlanta musician’s major-label debut album.
Those who follow the 19-year old musician should have an idea what to expect if they listened to his first mixtape, Indigo Child, in 2014. Those who are just now learning about the young artist might have a hard time trying to understand his eclectic style of music. Raury’s music shows flashes of different genres of music such as soul, hip-hop and folk. His album demonstrates all of these elements, from the opening title track “All We Need” to the album’s final song entitled “Friends”.
Raury’s album and style of music are very different from music that is coming out of Atlanta right now. The city’s hip-hop music scene is heavily dominated by trap rap from artists/groups such as Future and Migos. Sonically, Raury’s music might be compared to fellow Atlanta native, Childish Gambino. Yet it still sounds different at the same time, if that makes any sense.
Raury eclectic style is evident on All We Need, but the concepts he covers would be considered conscious and even political from a hip-hop standpoint. All We Need is a call for universal peace. “Lord save this burning earth,” chants Raury on “Revolution.” While asking God to save save us from the destructive forces of the universe, Raury acknowledges what scripture doomed us to from the beginning, on the song “Forbidden Knowledge,” which features Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T.
Sonically, a hip-hop head can hear the OutKast influence on the song. The concept of the song is more complex. “Forbidden knowledge can destroy mankind,” repeats Raury throughout the song. It shows his acknowledgement of what this world of technology has exposed to the human race. In other words, exposing us to this “forbidden knowledge,” which can provide wisdom of what’s going on around us; much like the story of Adam and Eve with the eating of the forbidden fruit.
The soulfulness of the album is reminiscent of Lauryn Hill’s album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The heavy themes of love and God are acknowledged or even subliminal to an extent. “It’s a long life/And I don’t wanna walk alone” Raury croons on “CPU,” which features Wu-Tang Clan member, RZA. The song itself is a plea for the girl that Raury, presumably, loves to come back into his life, despite all the wrong he has done. It’s a song to pull at the heart strings and extract emotion.
Later on the album, the theme of lost love continues, but with a twist. “I’ve just been trying to tell you that/That if you gone keep ignoring these texts/And feeding my regrets about things I did wrong/Then you got another thing coming,” Raury raps on “Love is Not a Four Letter Word”. He continues, “Cause I ain’t thinking about you/I got plenty cold ones blowing up my phone as we speak”. In between each of these lines, Raury chants “I miss you”. This gives the song its melancholy feel while also faux-boasting about how better off Raury is without the girl, and how easily she can be replaced.
Meanwhile, Raury then takes a turn away from love and calls for peace to expose the truth behind what the “trap life” is really like. “It ain’t nothin’ but them tears in the trap,” Raury raps on the hook of “Trap Tears” with fellow Atlanta rapper, Key. The song explains how the Atlanta rap music you hear about “trappin” isn’t as cracked up to be. The struggle is there, but it is glorified to an extent in Raury’s eyes.
“They taint the future, newest noose/To hang the youth imprint your mind/Before you turn twelve/The sex and drugs and rock and roll/Before hormones we’ve been exposed” Raury raps on the second verse of “Trap Tears”. The exposure and glorification of such elements in trap rap introduce the youth’s malleable minds to something that they’re not fully prepared for — thus fitting this “newest noose” around the necks of the youth.
On the final track of All We Need, Raury brings the album’s predominant theme of peace full-circle. “I made a friend in California/He has a house in East LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA/I made a friend in Venezuela/A broken home but he’s okay-kay-kay-kay-kay-kay-kay-kay” Raury croons on “Friends,” the 14th and final song with fellow singer Tom Morello. His experiences of unity and friendliness through those he’s met around the world portrays a small scale picture of the peace Raury calls for throughout the album. “And we, and we, belong/Together/At peace, at peace, we are/Forever” Raury sings on the song’s hook.
All We Need not only Raury’s cry for peace around the world, but the album itself introduces a wider, more mainstream audience to the young Atlanta native. These tales of lost love, visions of peace, and the harsh realities, as told by, in Raury’s words, “just a 90’s kid, a millennial” are what All We Need revolves around.
“Friends” (feat. Tom Morello): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXGwDB3mWn0
“Forbidden Knowledge” (feat. Big K.R.I.T.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_KQCEFPObE
“Devil’s Whisper”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoI2C6pW9AQ