RAYE at last releases anticipated debut album My 21st Century Blues: Feature Album on triple j, viral track ‘Escapism’ at #3 in the ARIA singles chart 3 weeks and counting
PRAISE FOR RAYE
Oscar Winning Tears.
Hard Out Here.
Escapism. (feat 070 Shake)
The Thrill Is Gone.
Ice Cream Man.
Flip A Switch.
Five Star Hotels. (feat. Mahalia)
Buss It Down.
My 21st Century Blues LP by RAYE is out now, buy/stream it here.
One of the UK’s most exciting musical talents, RAYE, has released her highly anticipated new album My 21st Century Blues, with the news just in of her placement as Feature Album on triple j. LISTEN HERE.
My 21st Century Blues is a stunning collection of heartfelt and emotional songs. Songs made by RAYE, for RAYE, but within that, they’re for everyone who has faced and overcome adversity. As RAYE says: “My 21st Century Blues. My debut album. My ugly complex beautiful mosaic formed from broken pieces of glass from the last 7 years of my life. My medicine, my anxieties, and traumas, my unfiltered thoughts. This music accompanied me through my bluest blues, crafted unapologetically and fearlessly with love and tears, and now I can only hope it might provide the same medicine it did for me, for those who choose to listen. I can’t believe it is really happening. My first album.”
The album includes RAYE‘s current smash hit UK No.1 and AUS No. 3 single ‘Escapism. (feat 070 Shake)‘ a no-holds-barred tale of self-medication with drink, drugs, and sex after heartbreak, which just marked RAYE‘s triple j Hottest 100 debut for 2022 at No. 67, has gone gold in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Australia, Finland, Denmark and New Zealand, Top 5 across Europe and currently climbing the US Billboard Hot 100, in addition to previously released tracks like ‘Black Mascara.‘, ‘Hard Out Here.‘, and ‘The Thrill Is Gone.‘
The deeply personal 13-song body of work – touching on everything from RAYE’s painful experiences in the music industry to sexual abuse, rape, body dysmorphia, addiction, misogyny, and even climate change – also includes new standouts ‘Buss It Down.‘, ‘Ice Cream Man.‘, and ‘Five Star Hotels.‘ with UK alt-R&B vocalist Mahalia. “Some of these songs I’ve had for years that I’ve needed to express and share. Before, I was told it was too uncomfortable and that audiences don’t want to hear it. There’s no sonic through-line. It was just creating whatever feels right for the story I want to tell over it. It just feels free.”
On ‘Body Dysmorphia.‘ RAYE sings candidly about an issue she has struggled with for years, whilst ‘Mary Jane.‘ details past issues with substance abuse which RAYE describes as “a love song to my addiction. Women don’t often talk about these issues, we keep it in silence.” On pulsating second single ‘Black Mascara.‘, trauma is unpacked steadily over a hypnotic dance beat anchored by real pain. “I was using that song as medicine. I’m finding some sort of rhythm to my pain. I’ve got somewhere to put it and move it. I love having music where I’m being honest lyrically, but the music isn’t too sad.”
It’s that sense of revelling in juxtaposition that also underpins ‘Buss It Down.‘ A piano-lead, organ-drenched gospel moment, it finds RAYE unspooling her thoughts on sex and her future relationships: “I’m just trying to prioritise who I grind for / Who I take my time for” she sings, backed by an all-female choir of mates. “It’s an empowering record that women can hear – that anyone can hear – and just feel powerful,” she smiles. The frank lyrics in that gospel context did mean she had to have a chat with the big guy upstairs. “Me and God we spoke and I was like ‘yeah I’m going to be singing a song about sex over a gospel song’, but that’s between us and we’re figuring it out,” she laughs. “The exciting thing is I get to express that in a really cool way.”
This is RAYE part two. It’s RAYE on her own terms. It’s the RAYE of old but reloaded. “Creating this music empowered me to face my demons. I called a lot of these people up and was like ‘you did this, and you did that – remember this? You owe me an apology and you’re never going to be able to treat another woman like that again’. On the album, I’m not going to be naming names, but I will be telling these stories. I will be explicitly fucking saying it.”
The success surrounding RAYE’s return to music in 2022 is exponential. ‘Escapism.‘ catapulted to viral TikTok fame last month with over 216 million cumulative streams and 35 million monthly Spotify listeners. The huge UK No.1 single is rapidly turning into a global smash, hitting the Top 10 currently in Australia at No. 3, Norway, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands, whilst in the USA it is just outside the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. More locally, RAYE has found a legion of supporters in triple j, through which she also made her Hottest 200 debut with her feature on Disclosure‘s ‘Waterfall‘ at No. 163 and most notably crowned the station’s Feature Album on release; and more in NOVA FM, KIIS, CADA, LiSTNR, InStyle Australia, Sniffers, Music Feeds, Acclaim, Purple Sneakers among others.
After some time out, RAYE returned to the music scene in 2022 with the hard-hitting, critically acclaimed single ‘Hard Out Here.‘ Playlisted by BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, the track was heralded by PAPER Magazine“outrageous and honest, and incredibly vulnerable.” 2022 saw RAYE nominated for both two BRIT Awards and the Ivors Songwriter Of The Year, alongside securing the R1 Brits List and performing for BBC Live Lounge with an incredible rendition of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’. She also performed ‘Escapism.‘ and ‘The Thrill Is Gone.‘ on BBC Two‘s Later… with Jools Holland.
Late last year RAYE headed out on a solo tour covering Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. The shows featured RAYE stripped back on the piano playing a selection of her songs from the past, present, and future. Now currently on tour with Lewis Capaldi as special guest on his sold-out arena tour, and will then be embarking on her own headline My 21st Century Blues World Tour kicking off in Europe before playing five sold-out North American cities in March.
After playing, and owning the pop game, RAYE is keen to hone her legacy as an artist that can skip between genres at will – songs that flit between hip-hop, dance, and gospel and still keep their integrity. “My ambition now is to build a fanbase,” she says. “To put on the craziest live show anyone’s ever seen. My goal is to bring artistic excellence and be as great as I am capable of being. If that catches a wave, then amazing, but I’m not going to let that freak me out or steer my plans or alter my purpose.” So what is that purpose? RAYE takes a deep breath and smiles: “To put out music I love and believe in.” Mission accomplished.
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