Published Oct 14, 2015It's easy to see why Raury was tapped to be the opening act for OutKast's recent reunion tour. On his new LP, All We Need, the ambitious young artist pays plenty of homage to his fellow ATLiens, who helped pave the way for modern hip-hop eclecticism. While the 19-year-old Raury isn't strictly a rapper like 'Kast were when they were his age, he does spit plenty of rhymes on All We Need, while also incorporating soul, funky, blues reggae and more.
On "Forbidden Knowledge" (featuring a fiery Big K.R.I.T.), Raury sounds like a reincarnation of André 3000 when the elder MC was first wooing Erykah Badu, thanks to his raps about there being a "universe" in a young lady's afro. His flow on "Peace Prevail," meanwhile, has the southern drawled staccato cadence of Three Stacks' more recent fare, along with a bongo beat that's gentle but rapid, somehow sounding akin to gurgling bong water flowing from the Soulquarians era. "Crystal Express," All We Need's most upbeat, fun and infectiously catchy track, takes cues from OutKast's underrated latter day masterpiece, Idlewild, via its blues swing era-tinged instrumentation.
While Raury makes no secret of his influences, that doesn't mean he lacks his own distinctive style. The rubbery bass and echoing chorus of "Revolution" evokes reggae's '70s peak without sounding too similar to any of that era's biggest stars, while "Devil's Whisper" has that booming Jamaican-style chorus, underscored with the knee-slap percussion of Delta blues — a unique mix if ever there was one. That song, and others, have incendiary messages that evoke the themes of Rage Against the Machine, if not that rap-metal group's sound.
But Raury sounds most like himself — and less like Rage, OutKast, or anyone else — on All We Need's closing track, "Friends," a sunny, radio-ready pop anthem with an open-arms chorus and a dazzling solo from none other than Rage guitarist Tom Morello. On the song, Raury intentionally stutters key lyrics, making them uniquely singable, as he sings about friends from everywhere and a better tomorrow. It's straightforwardly catchy, while also blending several genres — mainly pop, rock and soul — more subtly than any of the more overtly eclectic numbers on this wide-ranging LP.
"Friends" bodes well for an eager young talent who not only has impeccable taste in mentors, but is also finding a strong voice of his own that's sure to inspire coming generations. (Columbia)