Released just over a year after his first mixtape Indigo Child, Raury’s debut album All We Need is a reflection of his inexperience. But his style is original if nothing else. Raury manages to place his music on the boundary between hip-hop and folk without committing wholly to either genre, but the balance isn’t quite there. While this an impressive feat in itself, its impact is detracted from by its execution. The opening and title track ‘All We Need’ paraphrases Marvin Gaye’s ‘God Is Love’. This could be a sign of respect for such an influential figure, but ultimately it comes across overconfident from the man who claimed this would be “the best album of the year”.
In some instances his naivety is appealing. In ‘Peace Prevail’, Raury takes a reflective narrative, which is at once mature beyond his years and full of uncertainty. This is epitomised in “But then again, who am I?/Boy down south, head too high/Knowin’ everything gon’ be alright”. This track sets a prophetic, pessimistic rap to a simple repeating drum loop and wistful guitar strumming. The good intention and technical skill is definitely there, but he’s spreading himself too thinly, unready to commit to one path. As a result of this, you find yourself waiting throughout the whole album for a great Fela Kuti style climax, only to be disappointed.
The young artist has been compared multiple times to Andre 3000 in terms of his status as a hip-hop sideliner. Although some of his material has the maturity of an older man, his wit and lyricism is nowhere near as sharp as Outkast’s mouthpiece.
He’s idealistic to the point of being preachy, which is an unappealing trait for a 19 year old. Raury has employed the help of Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, which only really highlights how far he has still to go in comparison to such big names. All the elements of a good album are in place for Raury, it’s just a matter of time until they align properly.