Raye’s “Genesis” Is More Than a Song. It’s a Journey.

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Raye’s “Genesis” Is More Than a SongKAPFHAMMER


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Calling Raye’s newest single, “Genesis,” simply a song is an extreme understatement. The seven-minute feat, which sees the British singer-songwriter effortlessly intertwine genres and perform some of her most vividly vulnerable lyricism yet, is the type of musical bravado that, well, we just don’t really hear anymore.

“I definitely put myself through the wringer on this song,” Raye tells Harper’s Bazaar in the days before the single’s June 7 release. “I don’t know why I’m so passionate about this specific song, and why it struck me the way that it did, but I feel like it deserved all the time that was spent on it. There comes a point where you just have to say: Stop! I’m excited to just give it [away now]—it’s done and there’s nothing to stress about anymore.”

“Genesis” is intricately layered in its composition; Raye’s ear for textured production leads the listener through a smooth selection of stylistic switches, while her lyrics narrate the emotions that plague so many of us on the day-to-day: heartbreak, depression, exhaustion, anxiety—but also hope. Raye specifically had a quote from Nina Simone—“An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times”—at the top of her mind while creating the record.

“It’s such a deep, heavy, powerful, important, burdening, and overwhelming but important quote, and I do believe that’s what I want my duty as an artist to be—alongside anything else fun and indulgent that I might enjoy to express as a musician,” she says. “This song is very clearly discussing being at that point of deeming your life unworthy of continuing to live—which is so dark, but it’s also a reality that a lot of people are facing. Then it goes on about the insecurities and pressures of social media, and these algorithms that we’re all addicted to, myself included. I really tried my best to encompass it all into one song and then have a cry at the end to be like, ‘Let’s have a little hope, and I pray that we all make it through the other side—it’s all gonna be okay.’ ”

Releasing a seven-minute track in a world obsessed with quick and easily digestible TikTok hits is a bold move for an artist like Raye—though that’s not to say she doesn’t know how to compose a hit for the platform. (Please see her breakout single, “Escapism,” and her songwriting credit on Beyoncé’s “Riiverdance,” which each individually exploded on the social media app.) Even after initially receiving a mixed response from members of her team about the length of “Genesis” (some suggested she release only the higher-energy middle portion of the track), Raye knew to trust her creative instincts.

“As a writer and an artist, you have to zoom out into what’s the intention you have behind a piece of music you’re making—sometimes the intention is to feel good, and when you wanna create something to feel good, it doesn’t need to be seven minutes long,” she says, laughing. “I understand why people want quick, catchy, repetitive things. This song … it doesn’t always feel good when you’re listening to it—it’s quite intense. But personally, I love an indulgent, intense musical experience. You could argue that these could be three different songs, but for some reason, in my gut it felt like they belong together.”

For Raye, releasing a project of this caliber isn’t about public validation as much as it’s for her own personal creative fulfillment.

“This is about art,” she says with a shrug. “If it was about selling music, if it was about streaming, then I would not have made it [this way].”

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While “Genesis” is just a glimpse into what more is to come from Raye, she’s still taking the time to relish how her debut album, 2023’s My 21st Century Blues, radically changed her life: It took home a record-breaking six wins at the 2024 Brit Awards, and led to her recently receiving BMI’s Songwriter of the Year Award. She credits these career accomplishments not to any sort of industry-orchestrated metrics, but instead to her devoted fan base (though she notes it’s still weird to call her loyal listeners “fans”).

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“I remember when I did become independent, I said to my little team that the goal is to release music I’m proud of and to build a group of listeners who give a shit, and that’s exactly what’s happened,” she says. “The people who pull up for me, who come to the shows, and the people who don’t just listen to the songs but the details, and dig in and who care—they are literally the reason that I exist and the reason I’m thriving.”

So even if she does wish she could take a short holiday soon, the work is well worth it, Raye says.

“I’ve waited so long and I’ve worked so hard for a moment like right now. With what we’re achieving and the opportunities and the doors that are opening for us—how dare I take a second to not work the hardest that I’ve ever worked?” she says. “Before, [my career was about] just desperately yearning for the validation of others, and now I’m doing what I truly love—and that is priceless. I don’t have room for regrets.”

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