Kids notice everything. Whether this is driven solely by a lack of ancillary priorities, or it’s standard youthful curiosity, children are equipped with a hyperawareness and inquisitive nature that, for most, fleets rapidly during the dusk of adolescence. A sign of the times, today’s kids, the millennials, have been thrust into a digital fireball, and they have adapted accordingly. In the midst of our present epoch, a set of blueprints, solutions, and endless inspiration all await milliseconds away from questions that plead, pry, and press and against agog fingertips — fingertips that hover above a remote, a keyboard, or a touch screen connected to all conceivable answers. Of course kids notice everything, they’re surrounded by everything.
Raury Alexander Tullis was one of those kids. And while it hasn’t even been two years since the Stone Mountain, GA native finished high school, his debut album All We Need asserts a consciousness of sonic hip-hop, R&B, folk, and jazz fossils that pre-date his existence. Songs like the title track “All We Need” exude a grass roots radiance reminiscent of 3 Stacks, while the RZA assisted “CPU” glows in classic hues of 808s & Heartbreak. Andre, Kanye, CuDi, Frank, Skateboard P… The list of musical counterparts Raury has piggybacked can be recited organically, and his effort to shoulder the lineage left by those figureheads proves to be both valiant and admirable on this project. In a time where the Atlanta hip-hop scene is fueled by little more than Easter pink Sprite, repetitive flows, and scrip pill popping, All We Need provides listeners with a refreshing, polished alternative.
Building off of Indigo Child, his inaugural 2014 release, All We Need continues the cementation of Raury’s mental. He rocks the change agent hat for the album’s duration, but his effort towards activism appears full force on “Revolution.” Raur’s rapid, acoustic guitar is joined by the chant of “Lord, save this burning earth,” but those chants then transition to an eery, bongo backed emancipation of McDonald’s, consumerism, and the barbaric nature of humanity. The nineteen year-old totes a big stick, and though his voice is seldom backed on the album, it booms at times with the din of an entire tribe. Whilst reassuring to hear the ATLien offspring tell us that all we need is love, it’s troubling to hear him bluntly spout the words “I’ve been convinced to believe that it’s all over/And as we dance in this burning room/I can only relax and turn on the tune.”
“Each day now a battle for morals or dollars ,
We slaughter for profit , our sons know no fathers .”
Grand scheme dreams and grim observations are counterpointed successfully by Raur switching the lens to the front porch with “Woodcrest Manor II.” A personal account of friendship gone awry puts a damper on his trip back home, but the mood is salvaged by an infectious, homage paying chorus. He flexes some old soul nuance at the song’s end, weaving in a hazy jazz radio skitthat places the listener in the backseat of Raury’s whip while he navigates the city, as well as his conscious.
Along with the digitally enhanced love ballad “CPU,” tracks like the Beach House-esque “Her,” and the poetic spat “Love is Not a Four Letter Word” shed light on the Georgia youngin’s love life, as well as the strength of his pen. The album comes as a full meal, offering a 14 song tracklist that touches on Raur’s bright spots (“Friends“), all the while acknowledging life’s harsh realities (“Trap Tears“). In sporadic moments across the album, it appears as though his head is in the clouds with youthful naivety (as even he admits on “Peace Prevail“), but more often than not, he presents as a dialed in, insightful product of the millenial generation.
As a child of the YouTube era, it’s not a surprise to pick up on subtle traces of iconic artists while listening to Raury’s freshman project. He’s stewed in a hotbed of creativity for nearly two decades, and it appears as though All We Need is the first of what will hopefully be many impactful albums from this young talent. Whether involuntarily or by choice, the strength of his first label release has placed Raury at least within earshot of those that he’s crafted his sound after. The love has been bestowed.
Buy All We Need on iTunes here.
Follow Raury on Twitter here.
Follow Raury on Instagram here.