Photos by Mr. LXXXVII
What were you doing when you were 17? Probably taking the SATs and prepping for four years at some liberal arts college. Maybe you were fucking around with Garage Band trying to become the next Kanye. If you were really, lucky you were smoking weed openly without taking shit from mom and dad. Whatever you were doing, I doubt you were as cool as Raury.
Raury is a 17-year-old Atlanta artist who recently released “God’s Whisper,” and it has been blowing up the blogosphere since. Recently, he dropped the video for the song (above), which is equally, if not more, moving than the track itself. We caught up with Raury during his short stay in New York to talk about the new video, his upcoming project Indigo Child, and the next generation of artists.
Mass Appeal: I know you’re finishing up high school this year. How’s that going?
Raury: Nobody wants to be out of school as bad as me right now.
MA: How’s it been balancing this music shit with school?
Raury: It’s really nothing that I can’t handle but it’s definitely been a pain. A number of things have been coming up where let’s say Trinidad [James] is trying to work, I can’t go because I can’t be out past 10 pm on a school day. My mom will shut it down, and I respect what she says. She just wants me to graduate high school, I do too. I don’t just knock school completely. At the end of the day I despise the shit but I do understand its value. I just think it’s a misunderstanding that school’s the end all be all to be successful.
MA: I read in an interview that you weren’t going to accept the idea that you need to graduate school, have kids, and die. That’s a systematic problem with school. How could school work better for creative types like you?
Raury: I’ve thought of this a million times. If I was some school board director, or even later on if I could make an institution of my own, there would be a high school where they treat the arts exactly like they treat the sports. I’ve tried to even start stuff at my school. I started a music club and we would constantly have meetings and put together cyphers. I would share my network with them and stuff – just helping other people that are artistically inclined. I still do that today. I’m directing a talent show right now, too.
MA: At school?
Raury: Yeah, there’s a meeting Friday. I’ve got a committee together and they’re handling shit while I’m gone.
MA: You have a crazy schedule.
Raury: Yeah. I probably won’t even be able to sit through the whole talent show because I have to perform that day. But I ain’t trippin’.
MA: I know you’re from Atlanta and there’s a lot of history there. Has that influenced your music at all?
Raury: Of course. Outkast’s The Love Below/Speakerboxxx was one of the first rap album’s to win Album of the Year at the Grammys. Ever since then I’ve been determined to do that myself. I don’t know if my album could necessarily be called a rap album, though.
MA: That’s how a lot of people felt about The Love Below/Speakerboxxx.
Raury: Maybe that’s why it won. It was fresh and different. That’s what I feel like Atlanta is lacking right now – a person, or successor, of the 3000’s and the Cee-Lo’s. Everybody is trying to fill Tip’s shoes, and other people’s shoes, with the club and the trap shit. That’s all cool but people really forgot about the creative side of Atlanta. The genius side of Atlanta that is well and alive on a whole other level. With my career, and everything I do, I just want to bring that back to the forefront as far as how the world looks at Atlanta musically. The best music comes from Atlanta. Point blank, period.
MA: How’s the response been to “God’s Whisper”?
Raury: I’m honestly really surprised about how many people genuinely love and appreciate the song. I was shocked and thankful that all these people understood what I was doing. I dropped this thing with the mind state that I don’t care who likes it. All I care about is the people who get it, and I’m going to give them more.
MA: What was the goal for the video?
Raury: The goal was just to portray kids having a good time in a setting that isn’t necessarily usual. With the bonfire scene I wanted to establish that this is something new that’s cool. Well, it’s not new, but it’s something that people like me like to do. Also, I’m all about rebellion.
MA: Speaking about rebellion there’s a clip where a girl is taking some sort of pill. Is part of the Indigo life drug usage?
Raury: Yeah. Some people stumble across knowledge and they go down the wrong path with it. You know, some people stumble across knowledge and they grow up too fast. Some girls start wearing make up and a push-up bra too early and some dudes try to act hard too early. So yeah, that’s a part of it, too. It ain’t all good. There’s a portion of it that is great and I like to focus on that. But I’m not going to try and sneak shit under the rug like it’s not going down.
MA: When does Indigo Child come out?
Raury: In a perfect world it will be released in June. It’s finished, I’m just sitting on it. I’d say I’m sitting on 40 songs. I’ve been working on Indigo Child since I was 15, basically ever since I started recording. I look at myself as a perfectionist, but not to the point where it’s inefficient, useless, and I don’t get anything done.
MA: What does the title Indigo Child mean to you?
Raury: Indigo child, in a nutshell, is what I dub my generation. The people like me that are growing up with a shit-load of ambition, drive, and knowledge of where they want to be in life. A lot of people knock our generation, this happens to every generation, but they know very little about how great we actually are. A lot of us are more inclined to have an acceptance of people regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, nationality, or religion because we grew up with the whole world in our face. We knew people were different. Because of that we, the indigo children, are making shifts. A shift is happening in every aspect. Not just society, music too.
MA: Who would be a good representation of this new generation?
Raury: The person I feel like I identify the most with, as far as pioneers of the Internet Age, is Lorde. We both make the type of music that you listen to and don’t know what the fuck to call it, so you just name it alternative. I feel like we’re pioneers of a shit-load of other artists that are about to come out with some great music. Music that’s going to be refreshing to the world. People are getting sick of the same shit. Something needs to happen.
MA: What can people expect from Indigo Child sonically?
R: You can expect very triumphant, epic, soulful, and eclectic sounds. You can expect something genreless. You can expect mayhem and complete confusion, in a good way.