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Raury

May 10/2016
WORDS Erin Lowers PHOTOGRAPHY Brendan Meadows

At just 19 years old, Raury is on his way to starting a revolution – not one that merely pushes sociopolitical boundaries, but one that encourages rebellion through creative expression in pursuit of a brighter world. Although it’s been less than two years since the Georgia native originally captivated the world with his debut mixtape, Indigo Child, he has already created a far-reaching fan base rooted in love, power shifting and music.

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To a certain extent, Raury is the love child of 1970s black soul music, the hip-hop roots of the 1980s and the attitude of 1990s post-punk revival. Fast-forward to October 2015 and the release of his debut album, All We Need – a 14-track coming-of-age tale that revels in refreshing lyricism and poignant messaging. Though the album is relatable and accessible, creating it wasn’t exactly a free and easy process for Raury. “It’s not as easy to put the words together as people like to believe,” he concedes. “Putting all these random thoughts and views onto paper and then into songs, it takes courage to believe that people will understand and relate to what you’re saying… It’s a very personal process and it’s somewhat [of a] daring process.”

Beyond music, Raury has also created a safe space for kids through his ‘Indigo Meet-ups.’ “The whole point of Indigo Child is to curate this mindset, to curate this culture to the young kids growing up so we have a completely different 2025,” he says. “I’m not going for instantaneous gratitude or success or anything like that; I’m hoping to plant seeds for a better future where kids can grow up and feel safe and comfortable in their own skin… I don’t know how to start a revolution, I don’t have the answers. The only thing I can do right now, until answering that plan of action, is [to get] these kids together.”

As one of thousands of young adults who has suffered from depression, Raury is passionate about turning trials and tribulations into creative outlets. “There are a lot of times that depressive energy is also something that’s deeply inspiring. You can make this depressive energy work for you – if you can’t get rid of it, if you don’t know what to do with it, if you just feel horrible, you can make it work for you.”

Rising racial tensions in America have left hip-hop artists making sometimes controversial statements – including RZA, member of the Wu-Tang Clan, who suggested that black youth should ‘clean up’ before leaving the house. “It’s not our image that’s a problem… It’s super hard for some of my family to get a job because they have dreads – why? What the hell is wrong with dreads? Or the fact that people think nappy hair is a bad thing. What do you mean? That’s just what our hair does – it’s actually beautiful,” he declares, sounding exasperated. “We’re realizing who we are, and we’re loving ourselves. If anything, I say that what we need to do is look at how other cultures and societies are doing things for each other, and do more for each other. Black people need to do more for black people. Shoot, this generation will be the first generation to actually possibly start these businesses and start these infrastructures to help sustain and keep the black community something protected, something safe and something beautiful.”

Peace, Love and Happiness is hardly a catchphrase for Raury, it’s a way of life. From his music to his Indigo Meet-ups, Raury is the voice of a generation that demands change through its own creativity. “This is for everybody. This is a wave that everybody will soon be a part of, and [I will continue to] find ways to bring them all in and shift culture musically in Atlanta, and around the world.”

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