Starred: We feature Ray BLK & her “Durt” EP

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When one chooses to express themselves in the most personal of ways, you tend to feel a kind of powerful connection with them, if it’s art you get the feeling that they kind of is your friend for their work resonates with you. It all seems as simply natural but what makes it potent is when these kinds of creatives present you with an option of unfolding to limitless levels.

There has been a lot of talk about the new voice and a fast-rising star from the UK, the winner of the BBC Music Sound of 2017 poll, the first time an unsigned artist bagged the award, sharing the award with the likes of Adele and Sam Smith. Her music is characterized by a lot of positivity, freedom, and self-expression that she attributes to her personal encounters and experiences. In an interview with Billboard, Ray said that her rise to fame was unexpected; she admits that when she put out her first EP “Havisham” she only expected a few listens, but much to her surprise she had more people filling their ears with her music.

The Nigerian-born, London-raised singer official name Rita Ekwere, embodies a rare kind of artistic gift, a singer and rapper whose music seeks to empower at the same time educate, but it is the way she chooses to express herself through music that makes her art even more relishing. Her latest EP titled “Durt”, packs only seven singles that more or so reflect her personality, genuineness, style, experiences, her life in South London and a pleasant artistic freedom.

For a new generation artist, “Durt” gives a feeling that Ray has been there for a long time; the mini-album tweaks every bit of British music and urban life with a brash of influences and inspirations from the likes of Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse. Ray BLK chooses candid writing and bluntness to speak of her life, relationships and in 25 minutes expressively, the 23 year old does an incredible job with that boastful, classy and raw style of presentation.

“Baby Girlz” opens up the project with that 90s feel, she builds a story around a lady called Keisha who at a tender age has a baby coming and broken relationships, she is then left to deal with her baggage alone. Ray’s opener on this project gives an impression of an album that is honest and conscious. The amazing way she sings makes you take in the words of advice about wasted youth in the most willing of ways. The more chilled out “50 50” leans on relationships, she sings with a kind of fragility, a feeling of a woman distressed in love, she gives more than what her lover reciprocates.

Chill Out” presents that vicious character in her, a savage who may prey on any soul just to satisfy themselves; The third song on the album sees Ray acquire a new more darker role, a character whose toughened up, it’s kind of a progressing story line since the album take-off after being ‘hurt’ on the first two singles, she now toughens up on “Chill Out” a scorned soul who at this point doesn’t care what the other party feels “You wanted something real, I don’t care what you feel” she sings “You are making a big deal and I think you should chill out” The track features SG Lewis  “Gone” which features Wretch 32 leans more to that new school r&b vibe, a couple who are reflecting on their broken relationship, the back and forth dialogue approach on the single sees the two artists take different positions on what their relationship was like and who messed it all up.

“Hunny” on the other hand has that 90s r&b feel, the title of the song is a substitute word for a woman’s privates, the choice of words and clever lyrical interplay serves an elegant listen to the track that is full of knowledge for both the men and women. “Some Boys just want your pride….your Hunny from the Queen Bee” she sings.

My Hood” is an expression of the pride she has for her hood, she features grime act “Stormzy” Ray takes us through her neighborhood, despite all that pride at some point sadness dawns as her vocals switch when she sings of the bad side of her home, the musical arrangement on this gives a cinematic perspective as she paints the picture of her hood, despite all that you hear good or bad, Ray and Stormzy still ask you to come to their hoods, there is no place like home.

“Durt” is one very fickle laid back provocative tune, Ray sings it all with a lot of seductiveness, a sense of vulgar and infidelity in this case is “you doing you I’m doing dirt too”, it’s all free for all in this relationship, she mistrusts her partner, and goes ahead and also cheats on the man, hence “the joke’s on you”.

A peek into Ray’s work on “Durt” reveals an artist whose focus on the rich artistic and educative side of music provides a ray of hope and freshness in a world where the pop culture and music seem to lack the sense and reason for entertainment. Ray BLK-initials here standing for Building Living Knowledge-achieves a lot with her music all literate, streetwise, crafted to empower women and girls and full of soul moments where you get to taste her approach to art served with great poetry and a feeling of freedom that embraces your sense of existence.

Ray might be a name may be compared to a flicker in the global music industry but her star is well placed to shine over even the greatest of all, as for now she stands out as a worthy and exemplary artist of our time.

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