Raury is never satisfied. At least that seems to be the sentiment when I meet up with the eclectic artist from Stone Mountain, Ga., following his performance at Sweetlife Festival.
"That Whiplash movie was the realest thing," he says. "The two worst words in the English dictionary are 'good job.' After a show I walk out and [people] are like, 'Good job, amazing show.' I'm like, fuck no, that shit could have been so much better."
Is he a bit pessimistic? Sure. But Raury's inward critiques will inevitably push him to be one of the biggest voices and acts of the next generation. It's why, at 19, Raury has already amassed a dedicated following, one that hangs on every word he tweets. And it's why he'll outlast claims of being an industry plant. You can't fake hard work and determination.
During our sitdown, Raury spoke at length about his second annual Raurfest concert, which takes place later this month. He also revealed how he linked up with Chance the Rapper and Donnie Trumpet for Surf, and why he's a big fan of D.R.A.M.
Oh, and for you indigo children, Raury has a special message coming for you very soon. #JustWaitOnIt
Raurfest is coming up and you’ve got some big names on the bill: Big K.R.I.T., Two-9, Trinidad Jame$. Tell me about the festival.
The first year I did it, it was me alone performing. I only had “God’s Whisper” and “Bloom” out. I hadn’t even released a project. The city just supported me and loved me because they knew I was coming. It’s something that’s to expand the ears of Atlanta, and make it known that Atlanta is a diverse musical place when it comes to music, stretching way past hip-hop and R&B.
I met with Winston from Mumford & Sons last time I was in London doing the BBC [Radio 1's Big Weekend], and he was asking me about Atlanta’s scene. He thought it was completely a trap scene; a lot of people think that because they aren’t from there or raised there. That’s what Raurfest is for. Whether I have backing from Sony or backing from the city trying to make it happen, that wouldn’t matter to me. I would put my last dollar behind that shit because it’s for my city.
I loved hearing you on Surf. How did that come about?
Chance just sent the track out of nowhere. I usually work with people that I’m close with or friends with, but I’m a fan of Chance. I’ve been listening to his stuff for a while now. I feel like we’re in the same vein, five years from now we will be...it scares me to think about it. That’s pretty much how it happened.
Have you been working on the next project?
Yeah, definitely. This is my third show since my lock-ins I’ve been doing. I did lock-ins with Malay, Danger Mouse, Paul Epworth, people like that. These guys have been like sensei’s towards me. I am also a producer, I am also a songwriter, I’m an instrumentalist. A lot of situations, how it works out, I come in with a song completely written and played out on guitar. I’m a guitar-playing, storytelling boy from Georgia. I’ll come in and we’ll build it up from there. I’ve probably spent a total of three months in the studio.
Is there a time that you want the project to be released?
I definitely plan on releasing it this year. I’m real big on numbers. You know like 2010, 2005, those numbers that go in 5s. There's something about it to me. I really want to release the album in 2015.
I want to release one of the most impactful albums of the year. I know I’m not the biggest artist. I'm not Kanye, I’m not Kendrick, Frank Ocean, or any of those people. But I believe someone at my stature can do something extremely impactful beyond what any of them could do based on where I am right now. I’m a kid. I'm right here at the ground, and I have a whole different perspective. And that’s what I’m going to give the world when I release it.
You recently tweeted that the time is now to actually do something, and it wasn’t about music. Can you expand on that?
It's something that is way deep. I have a lot of kids. A lot of youth, a lot of fans, friends, people that believe and know that they are indigo children. Not the whole extensive definition with the psychic powers and things of that sort. You have your own definition of what an indigo child is.
Mine is, and I believe the general one is, the youth of this era that feel like something is wrong with this way of life, and it can be better. And we’re looking for a better way to do it. I found it. All these kids with so much misplaced energy. What they want, I found out how we’re going to do it. I found out how to activate these kindred spirits, and these revolutionary thinkers, and these peaceful thinkers. These people that want the world to be a better place, I've finally thought of the first step to getting them together and activating them.
When will you share that first step?
I’ll tweet it.
Sooner than later!
Do you have a song of the summer?
D.R.A.M.'s "Cha Cha." He and I became really good pals lately too, 'cause he’s been in Atlanta a lot. I remember one time he was hanging around some people that I know, and he was just knocked out on the couch, so I freaking elbow-bombed his ass. [Laughs.]
Is that someone you could be collaborating with on your next project?
Yeah, possibly. He’s super cool, man. We’re a lot alike in ways as far as our personalities. He's easy to be happy with, he's easy to have a good time. Easy to just not overthink it.