Raury, "All We Need" (Columbia)
Pharrell Williams and Kanye West have done untold work over the past decade toward expanding hip-hop's purview. Thanks to them, thoughtfulness and ostentation finally went hand in hand. The arrival of Raury may mark the beginning of the inevitable reversal of that movement. He is a hip-hop-generation shaman with an alert sense of musical history and a fearless humility. "All We Need," his second album, is full of confidently expressed delicateness. This is folk music refracted through hip-hop sensibilities. From the beginning of the album, Raury is earnest and aggrieved — he begins by lamenting consumerism and income inequality, in a voice that's part tense rapping and part wistful singing. Throughout, Raury is backed by a mélange of space-soul and soft rock produced largely by Malay, who cut his teeth refining his brand of earthy romanticism with Frank Ocean. This Woodstock-era approach feels like the logical result of the last generation of hip-hop outsiders subjected to several years' erosion by the elements — think Andre 3000's "Prototype," or the scrappier songs on the first N.E.R.D. album, or the way early records by A Tribe Called Quest had a palpable air hiss to them.
JON CARAMANICA, New York Times