Vegas Giovanni

Artist To Watch: Pump Yourself Up Before Going Into Battle With Raury

The 19-year-old Atlanta songwriter blends hip-hop, soul and folk -- and it's completely enthralling.

When you first click "play" on Atlanta-based singer Raury's heart-pounding song "God's Whisper," you're basically entering The Hunger Games. From the folk strums to the quick claps and crowd chants of "oh-na-na," everything about the track oozes fight-or-flight adrenaline.

And that's just the music; Raury's lyrical message is just as monumental. "I won't live a life on my knees," he sings to open the song, before going to the borderline messianic chorus -- "I hear God's whisper calling my name in the wind. I am the savior."

From that moment, it becomes clear that the 19-year-old isn't taking his job as a pop star lightly, if that's even the right term for what he does. It might be more appropriate to call Raury a revolutionary.

Shayan Asgharnia

Who He Is

Raury Alexander Tullis hails from the ATL, though he was born in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and started making music when he was just 14 in a friend's basement.

Just last year, he dropped his first "mixtape," Indigo Child, via Columbia Records, and he's got a full debut called All We Need coming out Oct. 16. Indigo Child is really only a mixtape in name -- it's as polished and diverse as a legitimate debut would be, spanning the soulful and bluesy on "Cigarette Song" and the psychedelic and trippy on "Seven Suns."

He told us last fall that his first recordings were either "really sad songs about love or some real aggressive violent raps," which is to be expected from a teenager. But his songwriting has matured, just as he has, and you can hear the change in songs like "Devil's Whisper," which sounds like a dusty folk song written by a hitchhiker. It's awesome.

Obviously, you can't quite pin Raury down to one genre. He incorporates hip-hop elements into his music while fortifying each track with lush layers of instrumentation, like vapor-thin electronics on "Amor" and stadium-sized drums on brand-new song "Friends." That's what makes his music so enthralling to experience.

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Why You Should Listen

"This generation is not hopeless; we’re actually very equipped to make a lot of change," he told The Guardian in July. With an outlook like that, what's there not to be excited about?

Raury is the precise intersection of big millennial enthusiasm and the generation's sense of community -- in other words, he's making art he's pumped about and wants you to be part of it, too. Like when he crowd-sourced a road trip from Atlanta to Chicago using Twitter (and making a cool music video about it), or when he named his website Get it?

What You Should Listen To

Spinning both "God's Whisper" and "Devil's Whisper" back-to-back will help paint the fullest portrait of Raury's abilities as both a songwriter and a song-crafter. As a pump-up jam, "God's Whisper helps set the mood for battle.

And "Devil's Whisper" carries you throughout the war with its stomping percussion and singalong chants.

When you complete both, you might need a minute to catch your breath. And then you can dive into one of Raury's slower jams, like "Amor."

What's Next

Raury's debut LP, All We Need, is out October 16 and features Big K.R.I.T., RZA and Tom Morello on song, as well as productions from Danger Mouse and others. After that, we're hoping he hits the road to support it so we can see more of the man himself, the sheer spectacle he creates in a live setting and, of course, that trademark hat. You know the one.