An artist that I’ve been listening to a lot recently is Ray BLK. 23-year-old Rita Ekwere, who goes by Ray BLK, is a London-based rapper, R&B and soul artist. She has already set herself up as an artist to watch with a MOBO 2016 nomination for Best Newcomer and the first unsigned artist to win BBC Music Sound Of 2017. She is currently supporting Emeli Sandé on her tour and headlining her own gigs around the UK and US.
It’s easy to see from listening to her recently self-released mini-album Durt why Ray BLK has been so successful, but that’s not what brought her onto the music scene. Her first debut EP Havisham, released in 2015, was inspired by Charles Dickens’ novel Miss Havisham. Her soulful voice resonates with listeners; the honest and personal lyrics about her experiences and the people that surround her set her aside from artists today.
The BLK in Ray’s stage name stands for ‘Building, Living, Knowing’. In an interview with The Knockturnal she spoke about the true meaning behind her stage name: ‘BLK is the message I always want to communicate to my fans. I want to encourage people to work hard and build for their future or whatever it is they want to achieve. I want them to live life to the fullest because you only have one life and to seek as much knowledge as they can their whole lives.’
Durt was released on 28 October 2016. The seven-track R&B album, reminiscent of 90s R&B, demonstrates her song writing skills as it documents BLK’s experiences living in South East London and touches social issues such as drugs, sex and poverty. Ray collaborates with other UK artists such as grime MC Stormzy, producer SG Lewis and rapper Wretch 32. My personal favourites from Durt are My Hood, Chill Out and 5050. My Hood – Ray’s collaboration with Stormzy – is an honest recount of their early life in South East London. 5050 is an empowering anthem for girls all over the world, encouraging them to move on from men who don’t treat them as they deserve. The track Baby Girlz and her most recent single, Patience (Freestyle), reveal her rapping talents and steps into hip-hop territory. Her biggest hit to date is Chill out, a collaboration with SG Lewis which has already been listened to over a million times on Spotify and the music video debut in November on Vevo – featuring a powerful message about Kingston’s LGBTQ community – has been well-received.
This year seems it will be the year Ray Blk blows up. It’s clear to see how talented artist Ray BLK is, so it’s no surprise Durt has been very well received. She will be taking to the stage at London’s Lovebox Festival in July. I’m excited to see what she releases next – hopefully a full album is just around the corner. Have you listened to Ray BLK before? Are you a fan? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @milkbathspa.
Featured Image: © Tim Boddy