Ray Blk is a badass. The south London MC and singer has been honing her skills in the school of life, and came through this year with scorching songs that have won her plaudits galore, including MOBO nominations as well as a place on the BBC Sound of 2017 list.
Durt is a mini-album collecting seven tracks by Ray – Including the breakthroughs ‘50/50’, ‘My Hood (feat. Stormzy)’ and ‘Chill Out’ – that offer a taste of the no-holes-barred realness to her music.
Ray is influenced by artists including Amy Winehouse, Missy Elliot and Lauryn Hill. Her love for the latter comes across directly on ‘Hunny’, with an artful riff on Hill’s ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’, but it’s also present in her astute commentary on relationships and urban life in general. Opening track ‘Baby Girlz’ is about a young girl with plenty of potential suddenly becoming a young mum, with no man to help her and no motivation to stop the cycle happen again with her child.
Ray is no stranger to the wily ways of men herself, of course. ‘Chill Out (feat. SG Lewis)’, a phenomenal slice of jet-cooled R&B, describes her yearning for satisfaction – no strings attached – with such class that it seems like showing off. The melancholy, trap-led closing track is something of a companion piece to this, and Ray doesn’t a waste moment in laying down her poetic rhymes that illustrate her self-reliance and will to give as good as she gets. From the strength of Ray’s words to the thoroughness of the productions, Durt is a strident debut for this talented artist.
Durt is out now, self-released by Ray Blk.
[This review was first published on aaronlee.co.uk, Dec 11, 2016.]
Image: Ray Blk/PR