Flourishing Under the Strawberry Moon with Raury

To get to know Raury, you should get to know Atlanta. It’s his native city, where he’s currently been working in the studio and where he’s been able to connect with the Dungeon Family, collaborating with the legendary David Sheats, known as Mr. DJ to most. 

Being in Atlanta is the foundation of who Raury is/ Raury’s artistry, allowing him to form a team who truly trust his vision and lets him call the shots, a vision that has transpired into the new album Strawberry Moon.

“I was bold enough and I was courageous enough to start over again and get that right team, a team that sees my vision, trusts me and allows me to really call the shots in a way and, you know, be a part of my destiny as far as what I’m going to create.” The music has been influenced by an accumulation of Raury’s growth as a guitarist, and finding peace in his surroundings again, leading to the sound he is now honing in on, “When I think of Hendrix, or when I think of Wiz Khalifa, I think of just the beauty of certain records that I love that have guitar in it, very wavy, floral sounding guitars. It was inspired based off of my reality. I was in a different house and I had all these meditation pillows, and all these floral designs and all this wavy shit going on in my house, just this is where my spirit is at right now.” 

Atlanta is not just the place that Raury intends to create, it’s where he intends to give opportunities to the other creatives around him who have the same hopes and aspirations. 

“There’s so much talent and organic rawness in Atlanta that needs to be given infrastructure, I want to create opportunities for people where in the community that I’m from started, because that’s where my life started, I have so many connections there, so when I moved back to Atlanta and I got to nurturing my community and being there for my community. That shit’s realer than anything. To grow from the point where I have spent twenty-something years of my life, from beginning to today, what better place to start the explosion from?!” 

Getting back to the city he calls home / Atlanta is why Raury is able to be so centred, as he describes his life in LA as “a battle, a situation that had me going against my gut, had me going against my spirit, I always knew I needed to be in Atlanta, and I needed to get a studio,” which meant that leaving the record deal he had with Columbia was a no-brainer in the end. “It can really become a runaway train for you once you get in the game. Which is why a lot of really dope artists, really meaningful artists come out, and then they end up emulating whatever is the trend right now. And that’s just because, you know, things get ahead of them and maybe they get into the industry very young, such as myself, and I didn’t want that to happen to me.” His self-described hiatus is what has allowed him to come back into the game knowing for certain the type of artist he is. He plans to release a lot of music and have it all be stylistically different. 

We’ve heard folk through the 2020 release Fervent and when he first burst onto the scene he was described as the future of hip hop. What comes next is an intentional 180 from what his fans have last heard. “I know that a lot of time has passed, when I haven’t constantly given my fan base music, and what I want to do is literally go AK-47, and give a lot of music.” Living in the studio, he’s creating as much as possible. But Raury doesn’t fear over saturation, and given his track record, he won’t have to worry about that. “I’m gonna put out a lot of music” but the “superpower ability to put out a lot of music and it all be different” is something we can count on. 

From what we’ve heard so far of the next project, it’s hard to predict the immediate direction it will go in. The first singles Channel Zero and 2020 Vision, after all, sound nothing alike. 

He describes these first two tracks from the upcoming project as the two opposite sides of the album’s spectrum. “A lot of things may exist in between. I think the connection between them is like a bit of funk, a bit of soul. So that’s going to be a thread on the whole album, a very soulful album, you know, with touches of like, hip hop, psychedelia, and just overall waviness, you know, and dankness, just fucking swag. And I believe that those exist very prevalently in both records. And most of the records for the album.” 

Whilst he describes Channel Zero as “more fitting for the cold season” and 2020 Vision as “coming into spring,” the transition to summer is a way to describe this album as a whole, hence the project title. “I was born in June, and June is the month the Strawberry Moon occurs.” 

“So there are about 12 to 13 different full moons that happen and it’s all particular to the month or zodiac particularly” and  “they all have real earthly ties to what is happening.” Raury found the title to perfectly embody himself as well as the wavy music to match (and maybe the month of the Strawberry Moon is when fans should keep their eyes and ears peeled.) 

The more I learn about Raury the more I learn that it’s not just the music that is purposeful. 

By being honest with himself and his former label, Raury is able to practise what he preaches, going back home to where it all began to create music in any direction he chooses to aim. “I trust that feeling within me. More than I trust the words around me.” His intuition has created a trust with his fan base and a close knit community where he’s been travelling in the woods, performing for free, and sharing his plans with as many people as possible, even connecting with both farmers and builders. The aim is to create sustainable neighbourhoods with the profits from his music where “the economic infrastructure would be through the arts.” “We just want to restore a balance, we want to show people an autonomous lifestyle, in the most seamless way possible with the lifestyle that they’re already living. I want to see festivals and organisations and things like that with every cup, plate and utensil is biodegradable, because people are dropping shit anyway. I definitely have visions of things like that I want to actualize into this world and I’m working on, I guess it starts with the music.” 

The music itself usually starts with writing on a guitar, a quote or line that he’ll make into a hook. There’s no formula but the result this time around is Strawberry Moon; 

“I got with Mr. DJ, when it came down to like, producing this record, you know, and I’ve just been reconnecting to the lineage of this Dungeon Family in Atlanta, and just learning how to just, you know, cook up some real interesting cuts that people can just like vibe to and groove to.” 

Raury is doing his best to “maintain balance” and it’s a theme explored in his lyrics, some of which he has had for some time now despite only just releasing them.  

At least I defeated my ego leaving a leader

It is freezing out in the street and complete with my inner being

Meaning I’m even, if not below what’s above me 

It may allude to the decision to leave his record label, but seeing as “that lyric was written before” he “even signed a deal.” , it’s really tuning in to the tightrope he balances on in all areas of life, both personal and professional. “It’s how the world is. And it applies to so many things.”…“As a matter of fact, I’m not even one to say that I’ve done that perfectly”. But his honesty is half of the appeal, the other being the talent/ music itself. 

This era is arguably about balance despite his successes and where they may take him, leaving elitism “and being complete with your inner being, being consumed with who you truly are, and not what the world tells you.” 

From what we’ve heard we can already assume that he’s more than prepared to reintroduce himself on the scene as not the future but the present this time. Whether that is expressed through hip hop, folk or soul is a constant we can only assume will change, by the sounds of it. 

Made with his current state in mind, it sounds like Strawberry Moon will be an album for summer, for smoking and hanging with friends, and the most recent release Feel Good evokes exactly that. 

But don’t take my word for it, take Raury’s, “it’s a real groovy album.” 

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Words: Janita Purcell