Images: Madeline Bradley
Raury is a hugger not a hand shaker. He’s also opening for A$AP Rocky in 45-minutes but we are in an Asian supermarket in Auckland as the 19 year-old buys peaches.
The peach is Georgia’s state fruit. Raury Deshawn Tullis is a vegan from Atlanta. He’s also relaxed, self-assured and hip hop’s teenage dream. With an eclectic sound that mixes soul and folk, he’s an indicator of hip-hop’s evolution into a much more diverse sound. He’s made headlines for protesting Donald Trump on live television, and has been frequenting strip clubs since he was 17.
He also likes to use the word ‘juice’.
Sure the kid’s a charmer, but he’s much more than that.
Noisey: So you’re a super sexy dancer, like Chris Brown-on-a-spinning-platform-performing-“Take-You-Down”-vibes. Can you teach me?
Raury: Oh for real? I didn’t know that! But I’ll show you, I’ll show you the juice. There is so much juice that I’ve learned now at 19, that I look back at my 17 year-old self and thought ‘Goddamn that is fucking beautiful I have gained so much juice!’ You got juice, too.
Thanks, but what is juice?
It’s a sixth sense that comes from deep within. If you know what I’m talking about then you got it. I can’t explain it, it’s like love, it’s like God…it’s juice. Just dripping.
Atlanta is the promised land of hip-hop and R&B, right?
Yeah Usher, Trey Songz. Bieber blew up out of Atlanta. Atlanta has the juice. The kids are wild man. Everyone’s having a fucking great time.
And it has the best strip club in the world?
Follies, Onyx, Magic City this Atlanta shit…
Magic City yes!
I went to my first strip club when I was 17 and I was like “I gotta come back as billionaire with more juice”. It’s $250 to sit on this couch and be closer to the strippers.
How do you feel about strippers, are you into that whole vibe?
It is what it is, in Atlanta, the communities a lot of kids grow up in isn’t the best. The education isn’t top tier, either. I feel like it’s amazing because a lot of women that don’t know where else to go can do that and make money and survive and feed their kids. It’s really big part of Atlanta culture. A lot of artists from Atlanta make this trapping and club music because they’re trying to blow up in the strip club. That’s the formula: you make your music, you meet a promoter, you get your shit played in a strip club and that shit takes off and you’re out of there.
So success starts in the strip club?
Yeah, that’s why so many artists in Atlanta have a certain sound. But then there are people like me, or Gambino or Made in Tokyo.
It seems like you’re a whole a new brand of hip-hop, refusing to adhere to the traditional hyper-masculinity that’s associated with the genre.
Yeah? Well it is a lot more dimensional and beautiful and meaningful. At the same time though man it is about fucking bitches and getting money, I mean that’s a part of life. Who doesn’t want to that? I can’t cross that out, but I’m not going to talk about shit I haven’t done before though I’m going to do me. It takes a certain type of juice to take it away from fucking bitches and approach somebody with something that hits home in a way that isn’t so obvious.
Rocky has said that misogyny in rap is more about a call-out culture and that in his lyrics addresses women and men that he’s into or that have fucked him over.
Saying there’s no misogyny in rap is like saying there’s no drug addiction in rap. There’s misogyny in life in general. It may be more magnified in hip-hop because hip-hop is one of the most influential genres, but it’s only reflective of a larger problem. I’d be a blind person to say there’s no misogyny.
There are songs, though, that are relatively non-controversial and hugely successful, Drake’s "Hotline Bling" for example, do you think that’s the way –avoid conflict and get to the top?
That was Drake’s way of getting to the top. I have a different way. That’s the downfall of a lot of people. Of course you can use other people’s steps, but you can’t walk their whole stairway. That wasn’t Ye’s angle or 50 Cent’s angle.
Do you think it’s hip-hop’s duty, then to comment on political and social issues, I mean you called out Trump right?
Yeah he was on the Colbert show the same night as I was and I wore a Mexico soccer jersey with his name crossed out on the back. That was my little protest.
I mean the crowd loved it, they went nuts. Also Bernie Sanders campaign reached out to me. We’ve still been talking.
No way. So that kind of stuff, that’s the kind of effect hip-hop needs to have?
Hip-hop will do everything. It will bash women, it will be political, it will be drug-oriented, none of that shit is going anywhere. If anyone’s pissed off they should look at what’s going on around them, because what we do is just a reflection of that. I mean there are really the best strip clubs in Atlanta, there are really strippers shaking their ass and snorting coke, and fucking trap niggas and that’s what’s really going on.
You get a lot of Internet hype, do you believe it?
A lot of people try to tell me I’m the best in the world and already a legend or whatever, but I just try to remain completely in touch with what’s in front of me. The industry man and what it does to the mind of the artist it’s fucking tragic. People get to the point where they don’t know who they are. I don’t want that to happen to me. So I don’t take none of that to heart. I do believe that I can become a widely influential artist in the next five years or so. That is a dream. I’m not hearing no negative feedback though, you know.