RAYE “My 21st Century Blues” Album Review

My 21st Century Blues


  • Genre: Pop
  • Date: 03 Feb, 2023
  • Content: explicit
  • Region: NGA
  • Track(s): 15
  • ℗ 2023 RAYE under exclusive license to Human Re Sources

“My 21st Century Blues” is the debut album that should have come out years ago. Rachel Keen took to Twitter in June 2021 to report that her four-record deal with Polydor had yet to yield a single album despite being signed for nearly seven years. RAYE has finally leaped at the chance to release her debut album – perhaps too quickly – after years of drip-bleeding single after single and enduring several painful experiences.

She has advanced above and beyond what any popstar should be asked to endure and expose, and her vulnerability merits all the five-star reviews in the world. However, there appears to be a dissonant disparity between earlier songs that RAYE wished to release and songs that were written especially for “My 21st Century Blues.” The album, in its eagerness to convey its story, suffers from a frenetic second half that softens the impact it could have delivered.

Album Cover Art

Raye &Quot;My 21St Century Blues&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, November 30, 2023

RAYE, probably out of curiosity and in the spirit of adventure, she decided to stand at the top of a huge pileup of different musical instruments all doused in white. Still trying to balance herself on the pile, she stands on her tippy toes that are slipped into her oversize red stiletto heels.

Tracks and Features

RAYE has been making music that feels unapologetically her own ever since she posted the tweet about her former oppressive record label. The artist criticizes the patriarchal music industry in the electric, affirmative song “Hard Out Here.” While the ballad “Ice Cream Man” is a brutally honest description of a power abuse where RAYE tells her experience of being sexually assaulted by a producer, “Body Dysmorphia” deals with her own problematic relationship with her body.

While the joyful “Black Mascara” shows RAYE’s talent for writing dance floor-fillers, it does it by departing from her past club anthems by fusing darker, bubbling beats with heartbreaking lyrics. In this song, Keen finds a more vulnerable tone as she talks of having her drink poisoned. As she simultaneously informs her attacker of her weakness and his power, her vocals are vocodered into layers that imitate the feeling of losing control. In beautifully crafted scenes, she captures the suffering. Keen quickly recalls her makeup dripping into her mother’s lap.

The trip-hop-influenced song “Escapism,” which also features 070 Shake, is the album’s true achievement. The seductive song debuted in October before steadily making its way up the charts, peaking last month to deliver RAYE her first UK Number One single.

The Oscar-winning song “Oscar Winning Tears” is a devastating critique of a failing, poisonous relationship supported by dreamy strings and majestic piano flourishes. With its spare production and subdued rhythm section, the stripped-down “Mary Jane” transports you to a jazzy speakeasy, while the funk-infused “Worth It” sounds like a lost Silk Sonic piece. The brass-heavy modern soul track “The Thrill Is Gone” is fantastic; the sumptuous musical arrangements are reminiscent of Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black.”

RAYE doesn’t hold back with his lyrics. ‘Environmental Anxiety’ uses Coldplay’s disjointed production techniques. RAYE thanks her loved ones as she ends her debut album. She reveals on “Fin” that she is honoring the friends, family, and coworkers that helped make the record.


2Oscar Winning Tears.RAYE3:03
3Hard Out Here.RAYE3:11
4Black Mascara.RAYE3:59
5Escapism.RAYE & 070 Shake4:32
6Mary Jane.RAYE3:52
7The Thrill Is Gone.RAYE3:19
8Ice Cream Man.RAYE4:08
9Flip A Switch.RAYE3:21
10Body Dysmorphia.RAYE2:33
11Environmental Anxiety.RAYE3:14
12Five Star Hotels. (feat. Mahalia)RAYE3:24
13Worth It.RAYE4:06
14Buss It Down.RAYE2:36

Album Theme

After tweeting about her plight, she quit Polydor in 2021 to create My 21st Century Blues as an independent artist. In this album, she slipped into her shoes of vulnerability and took us on a beautiful, intriguing, yet raw journey. And each of the 13 energizing tracks on the album has a distinct adrenaline surge of wrath, joy, and liberation.

Production Credits

BloodPop®, Di Genius, Gianluca Buccellati, Mike Sabath, Pete Miller, Punctual & RAYE worked on the album’s production.


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