Ray BLK shines on new project ‘Empress’

Rising R and B star Ray BLK defines a new plateau in her career as she drops her triumphant new project ‘Empress’.

At 25 years old, Ray BLK has had a constant stream of success following her Stormzy assisted debut single ‘My Hood’ back in 2015. Within the last 3 years she has racked up MOBO nominations, became the first unsigned artist to win The BBC’s Sound of Music award in 2017, following in the footsteps of Adele and Sam Smith, and most recently signed to Island Records at the start of the year.

The London raised singer has been working on ‘Empress’ for the past 14 months as she took to Instagram earlier this week to share her excitement for the new music which she stated was “one for the new generation”.

The British songstress opens the project with ‘Run Run’, her hard hitting approach single addressing the rise in London’s crime. The track, which Ray claimed to be based upon real life events, provides a personal perspective on knife crime as she uses her talents to turn an insightful story into a powerful hit.

‘Paradise’, the second track on ‘Empress’, invites listeners to explore a never seen before side to her as she takes a slow approach with alluring, innocence laced vocals in the mellow verse before transpiring into a tropical infusion as heard in the second half of the song with bright chords and light drum highlights.

‘Paradise’ seamlessly transitions into ‘Got My Own’, an uplifting gospel inspired funk fest. The sax heavy beat is paired with an undeniable feeling of pride as she beams in her ability to be able to look after herself as she sings “don’t need yours cause I got my own” on the feel good chorus.

Track 4, ‘Girl like Me’, possesses an endearing mischievous sound in her voice as she embodies a throwback R and B sassy superstar persona in the jazzy number. BLK exudes confidence in her own female ability as she expresses self-love whilst ensuring we all need a girl like her. As BLK shows off the diversity within her ability, ‘Girl Like Me’ gets spiced up with an unexpected relaxed rap feature incorporating her signature vibe in a fresh new setting.

Entering the second half of the MOBO nominee’s new material, we are immersed in an ode to her beloved mother, who’s seemingly also her biggest supporter, rock and all time appreciator. ‘Mama’ is a captivating snappy slow jam which pays homage to the woman who made helped her find the admirable young woman she is today. The track shows off BLK’s vocal range, showcasing her falsetto, lower register and satisfying runs as she heart-warmingly radiates pride throughout the insightful tribute.

‘Mama’ leads nicely into her comical yet empowering hit single ‘Empress’. The female positive ballad beautifully encapsulates silky, powerful and effortless vocals against its acoustic backdrop as she encourages women to know their worth, love themselves and never settle for anything but the best.

The piano penned ‘Don’t Beg’ offers a dreamy take as she bares all on the ups and downs of relationships especially when a relationship comes to an end. Following a cinematic verse, the chorus emerges into an emotion filled, gospel choir intertwined harmonious peak. The hit maker once again lends her rapping ability nearing the end of the track, adding a fresh urban element.

Concluding the album, ‘Just a Kid’ sits at the end of the project. The track is a sonic embodiment of a reassuring glimmer of hope for the misjudged, oppressed and misunderstood as BLK encourages her listeners to decide their own fate. The sparkling beat along with an imbue of belief is flawlessly finished with a touching message from ‘Dynamite’ as she reminds everyone to find support, be kind to themselves and remember that they’re a gift.

The title of this project is so fitting, lending a perfect definition of what Ray BLK embodies. The undeniably talented songstress has all of the characteristics of a modern day empress, proving to be an admirable role model and a voice of hope for all the misjudged, underrepresented members of society.

‘Empress’ boasts an entirety of positivity, uplifting, inspirational and empowering energy as her talent is impeccably moving. Through this musical experience, which revolutionises her sound and brand, she provides strength and proves she’s a force to be reckoned with as an artist with a purpose.

Rating: 4.5*

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Written by Arun Mohammed

Student Journalist, music enthusiast who cares for everything showbiz. @arun_Mohammed on twitter or contact me via Email: [email protected]
Personal Blog: arunmohammed.com