When I first met Raury, he was performing in an “indigo child” t-shirt at Urban Outfitters – Urban Outfitters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I had listened to his mixtape Indigo Child on rotation. In the most popular song, ”God’s Whisper,“ he calls on himself (or maybe every person, or maybe me) to be the savior of humanity who just needs to wake up and seize the youthful moment. There was also ”Amor,“ the song that reminded me of my first – when someone in your life rapidly transforms from your future to your past, and you’re only left with how you could’ve done better. Then there was ”Superfly,“ which made me want to uplift the world, even if I felt low on a summer night.

But never had I just seen this boy. In front of me was a child who was like me – audibly different than the rest. He was a small but powerful figure, like The Indian In The Cupboard (cultural trivialization aside). His hat was like the sun’s circumference inscribing a ball of radiant energy. There was something about his quirkiness as an “outkast,” who is really just a human existing in his own space, that was divinely relatable for me. After all, he’s here to unite the indigo children, right?

BOOM. His unnamed, unknown band powerfully drummed and strummed as he bellowed the lyrics that I had listened to countless times, and yet I felt every word differently.

And I was sober. That’s an experience every fan should be able to have (if they want).

After the concert, Raury spoke to every single person who wanted to chat with him (as the rest slithered out the store door, chatted with their friends, or shopped for overpriced vintage T-shirts).

Photo via Albert Williams

A year later, I would meet him again at the advanced listening session for All We Need in the Lower East Side. I saw him walking in the opposite direction on my way to the venue, and he said he’d be back (he wanted to go take a shower after his fourth listening session of the night…). The venue was an art exhibit inspired by his album. It was a silent listening party over wine and good vibes. This all made for a unique and memorable art experience.

*Start reading here if you’re really just looking for my opinion on the album.*

All We Need is about all we need: love. That really is it. This is a revolutionary love album. Heed this message and share it with someone – like you would share one of those positive Instagram quotes at 7 a.m. on a Monday.

Raury’s message, explicitly reminiscent of the renowned Beatles mantra, is refreshingly and awakening-ly simple — we are the change we have been waiting for. All we need is Love. But “Love is Not a Four Letter Word.” It has many forms and expressions.

The “Forbidden Knowledge” is hanging right above our heads. We need Love in the “Revolution” – we are stronger than the hatred being spread and practiced against the oppressed. We need love in romantic partners (hereby only referred to as “Him” or “Her”) because no matter how tough we try to be during or after a relationship, those of us who have loved a person are changed and linked. We need love in hanging with our “Friends,” the family we’ve been able to choose, because no matter how often or seldom we get to talk to and see them, we grow together. Black people are suffering and dying in an oppressive system we were born into; we need love to stop the “Trap Tears.” Rebellious, soft, tearful, courageous, wartime love is all we need, and this is a call for change.

Photo: bbc.co.uk

Sonically, Raury makes new waves. He combines his influences from hip-hop to folk and creates a sound that is truly his own. He shamelessly shows off more singing skills than on his last project. His guitar melodies flourish, often meshing effortlessly with a number of live instruments. Coming from someone who listens to Future to wake up in the morning…this album is powerful and groovy. These sounds are a great frame for Raury’s positive messages and storytelling.

When he was scheduled to be on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at the same time as Donald Trump, Raury’s fans asked if he was going to smack the racist sexist bigot backstage. And yet Raury said there were better ways to go about it. So he wore a pro-Mexico jersey to stand for the love of all people.

Raury on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Photo: stereogum.com

When my friend and I told him he might win a Grammy, he said he wants a Nobel Peace Prize. In a day when so many of us are increasingly losing hope in humanity and the music industry is over-saturated with negative messages, this movement of positivity really is All We Need.

What a time to be a lover.

Albert is a scholar, creative artist, and writer. He founded www.staywoke.us, a brand and initiative promoting conscious lifestyles of learning, teaching, and activism. View his Twitter @alb3woke for more Albert Facts, jokes, and artwork.

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