In a world were rap, hip-hop and the various urban strands that have sprung from them seem to have been boiled down to a series of box ticking pop templates and mumbling bedroom chancers, Raf remembers where it all began. Those early pioneers had little to work with other than a stack of cool records which they sonically cut and pasted, sampled and sliced and built new spacious soundscapes that they could run their vocals through. Hickey feels a lot like those early days. It feels like funk groves and pop infectiousness, soulful vibes and no small slice of positivity crafted out of familiar musical building blocks but fashioned into something wholly new and fresh.
And returning to such an ethic, re-exploring the joy of juggling such sounds reminds us of what we have lost, how fixated on fad and fashion the whole urban scene has become, how it seems more interested in checking itself in the mirror to make sure that it’s wearing the right labels or following the latest trend. Raf, aided and abetted brilliantly by Ari K, transcends all of that and just gets back to what counts, cool and seemingly effortless soul grooves gently pushed through a hip-hop blender. And the result is awesome.
Sometimes people are so focused on being ahead of the curve that they forget it sometimes pays to look back and learn from past glories and in doing so you can sound like a whole new, bright future.