It’s being coined Mellow Grime but when it comes to new genres, having no-genre is almost the new genre. Music is going through somewhat of a new renaissance and trying to define any new wave too early feels pre-emptive. The British underground always has and always will feed its urge to innovate and chart new territory and now’s the time to watch it closely.
While the U.K does what it does best, it’s hard not to notice that R&B is kinda in a rut right now, going through its own existential crisis – so where exactly is it heading and who’s the new vanguard for it? Running off names of new R&B artists who breakthrough this year, doesn’t really bring many names to the fore – it’s been a quiet year for sure. Bryson Tiller is probably the latest proponent for a new dual-genre with his Trap Soul sound, The Weeknd has pretty much gone all out to nail that mainstream pop acclaim. So where’s the future of R&B – could it actually be rejuvenated in the U.K just like British Soul led the charge globally?
Rayf isn’t strictly R&B, he’s a producer/artist from East London who’s sound has been dubbed as part of the new wave of Mellow Grime, a post-grime movement merged between Grime and R&B. Rayf is typical of a new generation of artists, taking inspiration from many places, from James Blake, to Trim, JME and Prez T to Erykah Badu, Kid Cudi and Cody Chestnut. Put simply Rayf is the child of a new generation fed on ‘808’s & Heartbreaks’ – “I feel the juxtaposing of dark distorted grime sample, r&b chords and ambient and often pitched vocals make for a great song and so far it feels like quite a few people agree. I think most of the sounds you hear these days similar to mine are children of ‘808 & Heartbreaks’ at the time a lot of people didn’t get it but that’s the sound now you know. It’s everywhere. I believe in things people don’t understand, I like it that way.”
Whatever the sound, it’s still tied to the street, but where grime used to be compressed inside London and is now sprawling across the world, Rayf’s world is precisely where it needs to be right now – small and echoing the desire to propel a rapidly emerging ambient post dubstep style R&B to the world eventually.
Check out the colour coded tasters from Rayf, ahead of his forthcoming conceptual project ‘Monkey’.