Words by Errol Anderson
Raury is definitely a product of the Internet. At only 18 years of age, he’s younger than MSN and was only a toddler when Google became a search engine. He’s a self-described ‘Indigo Child’ - which (by web outline) defines a juvenile believed to represent a higher state of human evolution. They’re highly empathic. They also happen to be world-changers. Traits that Raury definitely seems to have.
“The Indigo generation is what I dub my generation, because there are kids like me that can stumble across all the information we want on the Internet,” he warbles into his Skype. “We can use it to become great - I used it to teach myself how to play guitar - but you can also take this information and go the wrong way with it.”
One thing is for certain; the World Wide Web hasn’t curtailed the inquisitive, vivacious soul that answers my Skype call. “My want to experience more than this suburban life made me fall in love with Atlanta. Every time I got a chance, I would sneak down there just to walk around. I was 12 going on 13 when I was doing that. One time I got real lost and had to call my mother, but the funny thing is she didn’t yell at me so I was kinda confused. She just told me how to get home. She always looks out for me and also gave me a fair amount of space to grow and do what I wanted to do. I’m the youngest in the house and you know how parents get when the youngest sibling comes along.”
During our whole conversation, Raury is speedy to question just as much as he’s questioned - making an assured effort to learn about my name juxtaposed against small talk of the weather and his trip back home. He’s just come back from Amsterdam and more than anything, appears wide-eyed in amazement about the town’s cleanliness. “It’s like a really clean version of New York. People love to ride their bikes out there too. Now I’m just with my dog. His name’s Goddric - half German Shepherd, half Golden Retriever - and he has an Instagram if you want to follow. It’s a cool name. Now I think about it, the fact that my name is Raury has changed the way that I look at the world because I’ve always had the preconceived notion that I’m different. It’s a blessing.”
That difference sieved through to his views on the American school system from an early age. At just 15, he realised that class wasn’t for him. Music would be the only life route. “If I wasn’t an artist now, I’d be teaching guitar to some park ranger or something. Mr Aikens was my art teacher and he’d got the worst of me as a kid [laughs]. At the time I just thought that school was a brainwashing procedure but he seemed very level-minded whenever I’d call him out. By the end of the year, we’d gotten to know each other a lot better and I realised how wrong I was for being so hard on him. The next year, he actually retired and I never heard from him again. He took me from -50 to +100, most definitely.
I respect the English school system a lot more because there’s more choice. When I was 16, there was no teaching on how you could go out and interview artists or go and direct videos along with all the other career paths that don’t really require you to spend loads of money at college.”
The school curriculum wouldn’t have told him about marketing gigs either. Yet, innovative ideas like The “Anti-Tour” have separated him from his peers. The concept involves putting on a guerilla-style performance by pulling a truck up to the parking lot of someone else’s gig in an effort to entice their fans. “It was definitely of its time, but I don’t think the anti-tour will ever die because it’s something I can always have fun with no matter how busy I am,” he explains. “We’ve already been working on other exciting ideas but we’re just keeping it on the low right now.” It’s genius from a teenager that has not only mastered himself and his music, but sooner or later the Internet and much beyond.
Raury is paving the foundation of his own life path. He is a product of the rebellious generation that inquire, and when they don't get satisfactory responses, they motivate each other to go and seek the answers themselves. He happens to be a product of the C5 Music Foundation, a Coca-Cola sponsored camp for kids that provides them with empowerment workshops at a young age. And empowered he is.
Naturally, that feeds into his musical output. His buzz single “God’s Whisper” is a spoken word-meets-rhyming cut that brings a diverse angle to music in its manifesto approach to demanding more from society. Then there’s the Indigo Child EP, which placed him right into the scope of the hip-hop world with its genre-juggling amalgamation of everything good about Frank Ocean, Kid Cudi, Andre 3k and Bon Iver. But how does approaching artists of that ilk become a reality?
“If I’m a flat out fan - to the point of a Kid Cudi or an Andre 3000 - it doesn’t take much because at the end of the day I want them to understand me and have that general connection with me. If not, we need to have a private interaction so I can connect with them on a personal level. So when I was working with SBTRKT or The Neighbourhood, I anti-toured their show and got to hang out with them.
I was a fan of SBTRKT first and we happened to be in New York and got to meet him. I chatted to him for about three hours and it was really cool to understand how much he was like me but in a different spectrum. That night, we ended up staying in that studio for about 12 hours. The song “Higher and “Forgotten” were the cream of the crop from that session.”
When you consider that Kanye West invited Raury to breakfast after hearing his stuff, it's clear that his broadband-based antics are working in his favour. It's no surprise he couldn't see life without it. “A pre-internet Raury probably wouldn’t be an artist, a pre-internet Raury would be that kid in class studying anthropology. I’m a product of the Internet age."