2014’s Indigo Child EP woke all the echoes from Outkast’s four album career and so much more Dungeon Family and ATL goodness of yesteryear. However, with these new songs, we discover that Raury was also luxuriating in the back catalog of Arrested Development, and in truly diving into that folky something more, a 19-year old singing and rapping superstar has been born. The native of Stone Mountain, Georgia is possibly rap’s most earnest Southern voice, and in sounding and thinking like Andre 3000 is the voice we were missing to truly hearken the arrival of the alt-folk urban side of rap’s intriguing future.
To start at the end of the beginning, the album’s final track is titled “Friends,” and more so than featuring certain Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Rage Against The Machine bassist Tom Morello on the heavenly acoustic guitar-led track is that the last words Raury says on this album are “I have some friends who are the future, they need this world more than me.” There’s a level of altruistic decency in that statement that may actually leapfrog this release past Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly in some ways. Beaming rays of love also shine through on swirling electric guitar ballad “Mama,” ambient Andre 3000-style ballad “Love Is A Four Letter Word” (that feels culled from a recording session from The Love Below), and future-forward acoustic-led groove “Peace Prevail,” which wonders “will rap be a white thing” in the future. As love to Kendrick’s hate, this is a release that Radio Raheem, from Spike Lee joint “Do The Right Thing,” would happily bump in his boombox.
This album isn’t just a triumph of love, it’s a triumph of vision, too. Though not quite old enough to drink, All We Need is drunk on inspiration and reasons for ponderous thought. Pairing with Mississippi living legend Big KRIT for “Forbidden Knowledge” finds the two southerners heading into the political realm, and when Raury asks “why does history repeat like a sequel,” over an open and hollow break-laden production with a slippery synth in the melody, it opens a Pandora’s Box of intrigue. Aforementioned ‘90s rap icons Arrested Development had a 1994 single entitled “Revolution” on the Malcolm X soundtrack, and while this track is more suited for Woodstock-era Richie Havens than Baba Oje with it’s heavy guitar strumming, this ode to “the power of music” still carries a message advocating for instigation as a cause for liberation.
“Trap Tears” features Key!, an underground Atlanta emcee most notable for his connection with the left-of-center Awful Records clique. This is a rock jam that dips its toes into trap anthem status enough to make Dave Matthews Band fans want to get crunk at festivals and serve work out of bandos worldwide. Amazingly enough, the ballad has a rough underbelly and as an anthem not at festivals is just hard enough that it should be a rallying cry for young men in hoods worldwide who were raised by single mothers who never expected to lose their son’s fathers to the streets.
The album’s best overall single may be “Devil’s Whisper,” which in its boom clap percussion and mournful, spiritual vibe elevates this release to a whole other level of emotional connectivity. An O Brother Where Art Thou moment for the Breaking Bad generation, this one is both dark and heartfelt, and in both heartstrings being tugged with equal might, the overall production and vocal performance is extra tight. “Try to rule the world young boy…I can give you everything…” says the Raury voicing the devil narrator tempting his soul, and the same conflict that paralyzes Kendrick Lamar in existential angst about “abusing his influence” raises his ugly head here, too. Just like Kendrick though, Raury’s going to lift his head to the sky, find the sun setting against the sky-as-life, and sprint to it before it appears to disappear forever.
On woozy synthed album opener “All We Need,” Raury states that “God is our friend.” After emo-hood pop song “Woodcrest Manor,” radio disc jockey character and album narrator DJ Slow Jazz urges listeners to “get it off your chest, and feel better.” In Raury standing and delivering as a young man offering all the answers to the problems in a world gone mad, the Indigo Child, in pointing to everything but himself to give us All We Need to survive actually proves to maybe be the best leader to guide the world into what lies beyond these violent times. This isn’t an album, it’s the spiritual essence of the joy beyond the pain.