Preview: RAYE at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London


What do Charli XCX, Stormzy, Annie Mac, Blonde, and I all have in common? Many things, perhaps, but the most crucial is a shared appreciation of RAYE, a Londoner whose R&B nous appears to belie her years. With second EP SECOND freshly under her belt, she will follow the footsteps of Grimes and Major Lazer by taking to the capital’s versatile and perpetually trendy Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen – a “hipster den” according to Time Out circa 2009 – for a one-off show to celebrate.

Featuring five hostile tracks, that Polydor debut, released in mid-August, has spawned three singles that slipped flawlessly into tastemaking radio shows with their snappy attitude and vivid production. Stormzy himself drops by for a partially sung verse on ‘Ambition,’ a track that makes room to highlight the country’s shocking summer weather and subtly drop in a reference to 1997, the year of her birth, and the FRED-produced ‘Distraction’ is an exquisitely nostalgic cut with instrumental eruptions.

It is latest cut ‘I, U, Us’ that has her best positioned for stardom, though. Its video – a directorial debut for co-writer Charli XCX – took little over two weeks to reach 200,000 views having drawn early press that coincided with the EP’s release, and its defiant breakup tones through a millennial filter – “Delete the pictures off my phone / You know, you know / You were never in my zone” – will certainly figure emphatically in the live run-through.


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