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Cover Story – PAUSE Meets: RAURY

PAUSE MEETS:

RAURY

Talks music, fashion & inspiration.

Photographer: Shamaal Bloodman / @shamaal
Creative Direction/Stylist: Bré Kelly & Nnenna Anyaugo // @westofivy
MUA: Khai Reese // @blackbirdkhai

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Raury comes from a long line of Atlanta artists who have created the footprints he walks in today. Not one to shy away from anything, he is blazing his own trail with a gumption like only a southern boy can have. Emerging on the scene back in 2014, it took no time for Raury to prove himself as a musical outlier of the highest order. With musical bodies of work like ‘Indigo Child’ which balance guitar driven melodies with down to earth lyrics, the 26 year old is much more than a rapper, he is an artiste – a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who is also a savvy millennial, able to balance inspiration from Bob Dylan, Linkin Park and Kanye West simultaneously without missing a beat. Choosing to pursue music full time at the tender age of 9 and now at the age of 26, Raury’s artistic ability is beyond his years. His latest release Strawberry Moon is the amalgamation of everything Raury is about.

In a conversation with the musician on his birthday, we discussed music, fashion, and why balance is essential in life.

CLOTHING CREDIT:Top: Who Decides War by MRDR BRVDO, Denim: Gallery Dept, Shoes: A Bathing Ape 

I want to start from the beginning. For someone who isn’t familiar, how would you describe who you are and what you do?

Man I’m a creator of music that knows that people live through what they listen to so I create music one to just really help out in that whole war or battle of ideas, the war of curating what’s cool or what’s dope. I’m an artist that cares about that kind of shit so you know, I make all types of sounds. I’m kind of a chameleon but at the core of it, it’s me and my guitar and all the real shit I’ve been through you know, put it into sound. You know, I love music. I’m inspired by your real legends, like your Michael Jacksons, your Stevie Wonders, your Lauryn Hills, Bob Marleys and your Andre 3000s, and you know I’m really about that lineage of making timeless music, and that’s always the goal. Making real music, timeless music, true music. So that’s what I’m on, you know.

CLOTHING CREDIT: Top: Maison Margiela, Trousers: Vintage, Shoes: Doc Martens

It’s funny you say that because you strike me as a very cerebral artist. Someone who creates with thought and intention, not just for the sake of it or jumping on trends. You’re a creative person, so how did you know music would be the medium for you?

When I was like 9 years old, I had grown up with the internet a bit so I did like a lot of research and I kind of figured out that I didn’t want to go to college. To my perception at that time, that shit seemed like a scam. And I decided I’m going to pick up as many things as possible and figured out what am I good at and what do I enjoy doing, so by the time I’m seventeen I could probably be somewhat masterful at it. I wanted to get into every sport, I just went through a very big curiosity phase of just trying to find my calling and find my purpose and you know by the time I was fourteen I had decided that I’m going to do music for the rest of my life, whether I was good or not.

I remember being nine years old and asking my mum if I could get a guitar and not getting one until I was eleven. I think music had always been in my background because I was like eight years old and writing raps, I was three years old and making up songs and shit dawg and I’ve always really loved music.

Were your parent’s musical also?

Nope. I come from a normal household in the suburbs, where all they care about is sports. You not doing sports, you not going to college, you not doing shit with your life so I was like no, I’m going to go this way and I had a lot of adversity about that you know. I wasn’t born with this golden voice and I didn’t grow up in a church playing instruments or anything, I had to get it from YouTube and I was a bit of an introvert kid.

I was bit of a emo kid to keep it a buck man, I was to myself in my room bro making music, I listened to a lot of [Kid] Cudi and things like that, and 311 and Linkin Park and rock influences, and for whatever reason, I was grateful to be that young and that decisive.

And that’s quite rare you know, people seem to pick up things and drop things and pick up something else before finding their calling or purpose. So it’s quite brave to make a big decision that early in life.

For me it was to be successful in music or be homeless. It was do or die really early. This has to be it. I don’t care, this has to be it.

Do you find it because of that adversity, and you’ve mentioned mental health before. How much of that plays into your decision-making when it comes to creating?

I guess. I was kind of depressed early because I found out how much bullshit this world is you know. It pissed me off. It made me sad in school seeing how we’re already being programmed in this institution so I didn’t talk to people. I didn’t give a fuck because I kind of thought through a lot of things. Sometimes when you learn a lot real early, you know, you feel really alienated from everything around you because everyone is really happy because they don’t know what the fuck they’re in and I felt like I was one of the people who know that oh this is the okey-doke. So I think that was a bit of fuel or like a youthful box that I was in. I realised I have to make this work because nothing else in life keeps me sane through all this besides music.

I can definitely relate, as I’m sure others will too. I’m not a musician of course, but I can remember being in school and feeling somewhat. It also makes me wonder, do you think you make the best art from pain? Would you agree?

Well, I guess we can get a bit into how the world is, and like we’ve been programmed to a certain degree based on things like TV that we watch growing up, like rooting for the underdog or rooting for the person that is suffering.

It’s programming to just trauma bond. Trauma has been a thing that a lot of people connect to, so if I’m at my best I don’t know, but am I in sync with the programming of the world and what I’m taught to connect to which is pain and adversity or suffering because that’s easy to connect to because that’s just common. I guess one could say that I’m at my best when I’m writing from a darker place which is something that I did say in my songs.

I mean, a cheap comparison would be Kanye West’s Donda and Drake’s Certified Lover Boy. Two albums that are written distinctly from different places and the one that seems to resonate more with people is the one that is filled with emotion and pain, being Donda. And that’s just the way the world is.

Very true. There’s something in the water over there in Atlanta. Why is everyone so musical over there?

R: I think part of has to do with it being the South, and in the South, the echoes of a lot of suffering such as slavery or oppression still echo in some of our reality. For example, even church and the whole Christian thing going on like, the church is really prevalent in the South and especially in Atlanta where we have a lot of dope musicians you know. So that’s a thing. And when it comes down to even just the poverty that we experience because we don’t grow up with trust fund families or families that have a bunch of money due to slavery. If anything, some of our parents are still catching up to owning a home so a lot of people might live in poverty and have to trap or do this or do that in order to survive. Through that pain, through that suffering comes the music. So whatever is in the water, I guess it’s just more suffering.

No, I totally hear you. I’m Zimbabwean which is right next to South Africa, and South Africans like many Africans in general are extremely musical and I’ve always thought that it came from the pain that’s been inflicted on the continent.

Being from the South, you’ve been compared to Andre 3000 who is possibly one of the greatest rappers ever. What do those comparisons mean to you? And do they come with pressure?

R: I think they mean, for one, it’s an honour, it’s truly an honour. I don’t have much to say about it other than that is some big shoes and that is something that I try to do my best to ignore you know and understand that I don’t do what Andre does and I’m a different chapter in the book of the collective mind that is Southern music, and we may have some similarity in our pages but that’s because I grew up on him. We from the East side so we might have the similar voice or accent or whatever it comes down to and that’s a beautiful thing, I don’t look at it as a competitive thing or as a pressure thing even though a lot of people want to make it that, like, fuck off. I’m going to make my music and go full steam ahead and you can compare to who you want to compare me to but it’s whatever. I think that’s very European-minded, like creating borders and creating charts and comparisons between this and that, measuring penises and shit, it’s fucking whack.

CLOTHING CREDIT: Top: Vintage, Pants: Moonman, Shoes: adidas Yeezy

It’s great that you don’t fall into that trap where you play into the comparisons and feel like you have to be Andre 3000 adjacent. The fact that you identify that you don’t need to do that, I guess it’s freeing you to blaze your own trail as it were.

Oh yeah man, there are a lot of traps and pitfalls that come with, once again, being an artist with some sort of notoriety and those comparisons are one of them. Most of the world is programmed to think a certain way, look at things a certain type of way and you know when you become someone with some level of success a lot of people either hate you or want to compare you to things or tear you down. Some people really genuinely love and support you, and some people think they know you when they don’t even know you and then when they get to know you and who they think you are, you’re not that person so you were lying.

Would you say fame and/or notoriety is what you thought it would be or what you wanted?

R: It’s more than I thought it would be. I had no idea and I’m still figuring it out but one thing I did know is that I have to keep a grip. This world is so slippery and tricky you know, and one thing that’s always helped me keep a handle on things is energetic awareness and spiritual practice like understanding what the fuck I am in, and what I need to do to navigate it and keep my head on my shoulders. It’s no different than high school, it’s lit though but you know life doesn’t get any easier so I want all the smoke. Send me into the middle of all this and I will figure out and navigate this shit because I’m intelligent and my ancestors have been through worse so.

Your album Strawberry Moon drops soon. What’s one thing you feel is different about this body of work compared to your previous bodies of work?

R: What’s different about it is that it’s a lot more groovy than anything I’ve ever made. One thing about it is that how I talk about ‘intention intention’ and I tend to be a very serious artist, a bit heavy in perspective of things and this album is all about dopeness, dankness and fucking swag.

I’m making dope music, enjoyable music and I’m lacing it with truth, with realness but also in the same breath I’m not taking myself too seriously but just expressing myself. I’m not thinking too much about the government or the things I would usually address or come at. I think that’s what is notably different about this album, it’s more so leaning towards the joys of life or not even just the joys of life but the lessons of life and coming across in an even more enjoyable way to listen to.

I feel like it’s more modern. Sometimes I come from a more timeless place where there’s like folk influence or what not but this time around there’s more Hip-Hop based drums and it’s a real dope take.

Do you still get nervous putting music out? Even after being in the music industry for so long.

I don’t get nervous at all man, my self-defence now at this point is not giving a fuck and like bulldozing through not worrying about opinions and thoughts from the outside. I’m just bulldozing through life and I’m going to deliver and slap the world with my dick and not give a shit. I’m going to make this music, put it out and if y’all like it, great and if y’all don’t like it, whatever. I’m not about to stop making music. I’ve put myself in a position, ever since I walked away from the industry, i’ve put myself in a position to have access to a studio at all times. To know how to record myself. To know how to play my instruments, to know how even mix my shit if needs be. So as long as I’m breathing, I’m making music bro. I’m making music, I’m cranking it out and I’m giving it to the people out there that love me. And there’s people out there who are yet to meet me that will love the sound and I’ve learned, especially after connecting with a mentor of mine, that the key thing to success is just consistency. Think about how much music Gucci Mane put out, think about how much music Future put out. How much music Bob Dylan put out. Like these people, before any hits they were just putting out music so my goal is, I’m just a living breathing entity like music embodied and that’s just me and this is how it sounds.

It sounds like you don’t have any pressure or expectations. Especially in our current society where it’s all about numbers and clicks. It seems like you’ve shed that. Has that made music more enjoyable for you?

I’m about that balance so yeah, I’m about being the best artist in the world. I look in the mirror and that’s what I see. Even if I don’t have the accolades yet to show that or anything but that’s what I’ve always strived to be or at least one of the greatest. So I just take that time and put in the work and I know that’s where my mind needs to be in order for me to accomplish that. I know a lot of people man, and they always shoot themselves in the foot by trying too hard or doing too much, and there’s an art to art.

That’s a tweet right there. There’s an art to art. Moving onto fashion. You don’t strike me as someone who is materialistic, like how we see the rest of the industry or the typical rapper as. What are your thoughts on luxury or high fashion?

I’d say that I am materialistic. A Lot of things that people may think that I’m not. I am that but with a balance. It’s just that a lot of people are out of balance with that shit. I’m materialistic, I’m violent. I’m vain but I’m also loving, I’m also other things. So when it comes down to it, na bro I love some real good quality clothes. I also see myself as, if it’s thrifted or came out of Dover Street Market or Max Fields in LA – that shit hits.

So what are Raury’s go-to brands?

R: I don’t have any go-to brands, it’s more of like quality. If I’m looking at something and it looks really dope and it happens to be Celine or happens to be Saint Laurent or it happens to be Hains. I just have an eye for something that’s dope. And for me, that’s the same thing with music or with instruments. There’s the Fender, all-American $300,000 guitar but there’s also a $100 guitar in the pawn shop that’s acoustic and has a certain sound that nothing else has, you know what I mean. So I know that greatness is not attached to the price tag but sometimes things that are expensive also have quality too so it’s about that balance. I feel like at the beginning of my career I was very heavy in one direction of the swing as far as the positivity or the rejection of material things but at this point, I just turned 26 today and I’m more in the balance of things because everything is like a pot of soup you could burning that shit with too much fire or you could be not cooking at all. It’s just about balance, everything is about balance. At this point, I’m a balanced person you know, and I’m becoming even more balanced. Everyday.

That is probably the best way to put it because I always find that people either lean too much in one direction and go crazy with the designer brands. Like finally getting something you’ve never had before and going crazy extreme with it, so balance is definitely key.

Musically, who are you listening to these days?

Man I love Dijon, this artist named Dijon. He is one of the greatest to do it, I fuck with that guy, he’s really good. I’ve also been listening to Bruiser Wolf, I don’t know if y’all know about Bruiser Wolf. He’s like a blend of E40, Suga Free and bro he’s like my favourite rapper right now. Also, I’ve been listening to this dude named Tor, a really dope guitarist and ukulele player – he’s got Never Shall Never vibes and then also this dude named Where is Mez. Honestly, he’s another of them cats that I feel like is one of the best to do it. Tor and Mez, both based in Georgia and they run with me and I run with them, we’re a bit of musical gang because when it comes down to it i’ve been here connecting to my community and I’ve been here to kick open doors, so even being here talking about Mez and any of these cats is me saying yo look into them. I’ve been getting in the mix and connecting with people I respect creatively.

Strawberry Moon is dropping soon, what’s one thing you want people to take away from the album?

Let that shit go. Whatever it is. Let that shit go. If it doesn’t service you, let that shit go. If it’s something you’re holding on to, that you’ve been working on like an album, let it go. Put it out. Stop taking yourself so seriously, stop. That was my benchmark for this album, like yo get the stick from out of your ass and live life and live the shit out of it because there ain’t nothing realer than that you know. There ain’t nothing more spiritual than the truth, and sometimes the truth ain’t all lovey-dovey you know what I’m saying, don’t be too far on either side of the spectrum. That’s what the full moon is about, people do full moon rituals and they’re about letting go of things. In new moon cycles, you’re supposed to plant intentions and whatnot, but I called the album Strawberry Moon because it’s a full moon of June in the month that I was born in, so it’s a Strawberry Moon.

CLOTHING CREDIT: Top: Bode Floral, Pants: Saint Laurent, Shoes: Celine

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