Brooklyn goes hard! I’m not just saying that because I live in NYC, but lately a proliferation of all kinds of bananas music has been pouring out of everyone’s favorite borough. From indie rock, to electro pop and nu rave hip hop, as we round the decade, Brooklyn’s music scene is all about exploration. However, despite the shifting trends in music, there are a few key artists who find ways to uphold the cornerstones of their genre is some way or another, whether lyrically or musically, while still remaining relevant into an increasingly experimental scene. One of those artists is Brooklyn based female hip hop artist Raye 6.
A producer, singer and songwriter from Brooklyn, Raye 6, has been making music since her youth. With influences as iconic as Roberta Flack, Rakim, Nas and Prince, Raye 6’s sound is rooted in the classics of hip hop, soul and R&B, and that’s apparent in her approach to music. Raye 6’s sound blends intoxicating soul and funk heavy melodies with the intensity of carefully constructed beats. She floats over the track, whether it’s an r&b breakdown or a club-ready beat. Creating all of her own original material, Raye 6 blends her ultra-rich soulful singing voice with her ferocity as an MC. The result is a soul element reminiscent of Betty Davis, and rhymes that go hard with the best of em (a la Lil’ Kim).
Exploration comes into the picture with Raye 6’s debut mixtape, L.I.P.S. (which stands for “Love is Powerfully Sexy”). The mixtape features 10 seamlessly blended songs which can be described as nothing less than duets with some of her pivotal influences. She teamed up with Brooklyn’s own DJ Victorious to attach moments from the songs of her past with her own interpretations of the classics. In a nutshell, L.I.P.S. is a collection of 10 of Raye 6’s original add-ons to pioneering tracks like Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” and the Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams”. Additionally, the beginning of each track features a sample or short interlude that clues us in on who the femcee really is. Definitely one of the higher-concept mixtapes we’ve bumped in a while!
Raye 6 expresses a unique take on feminine sexuality in her music that explores both the traditional romance-laced part of doing the deed, as well as the secret sexy things everyone does when the lights are off and the doors locked. Playing both sides of the sexual coin is inventive in itself for a female performer. Most women in the music industry are either expected to conform to a passive “virgin”-esque romantic sexuality, or otherwise present a raunchy male-fantasy inspired image of sexuality. But with songs such as the charged “Daddy” are a perfect example of how Raye 6 is able to transcend stereotypes in her music and instead produce songs that discuss sexuality from a distinctly FEMALE perspective. Certainly a bold move for an artist that remains so tied to the traditions of a male-oriented genre such as hip hop!
Besides being a musically-inclined innovator, Raye 6 attempts to take live performance to the next level each time she performs. Melding her musical expression with elements of burlesque and performance arts, the soul crooner creates an in-your-face live act with the help of her crews “The Bubble Girls” and “The Haters of Love”. Bubbles and burlesque– nothing short of a good time!
Stylistically, we’re not mad at Raye 6’s getups either! Distinctly feminine with a hip-hop swag appeal to her, she favors bright and bold neons, lingerie items, flirty dresses, and tribal prints. She does it ghetto-fab diva style at all times with big items such as fur vests, liquid bodysuits, and pearls. Accessories like lace cut-off gloves, bangles galore, and hoops lend her look a girly sweetness reminiscent of early Madonna. Dramatic eye and facial makeup (leopard print patterns) and intricate hair dos (mohawks, fauxhawks, and beautiful fros, to name a few) round out the look, making Raye 6 the complete package, pretty much.
It’s easy to see why the songstress has collaborated with everyone from Ghost Face Killah, Joe Budden and Dead Prez, and is being hailed as the female version of Prince. All labels aside, we’re just glad to see a woman in the game doing something different, in a big way!
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