Ruta Smith

Rapper Ray DeeZy’s tunes have always felt cathartic and soulful, something to bounce to one second and find solace in the next. And as an artist who has been vocal about depression in the past, Deezy’s somber songs have carried the weight of mental health, sometimes when they’re not even discussing it.

But even people that confront life’s harder topics need a break, and that’s what DeeZy sought when crafting his latest album, The Getaway, out July 27. The album will be the first in a trilogy of releases over the next few months, DeeZy added. This upcoming album will focus much of its energy on the past.

Nostalgia’s a hell of a drug, after all. “That’s the theme throughout the project,” DeeZy said. “Just going back in time.”

Newer fans to DeeZy’s style may think it’s a break from the norm, thanks to projects like Pardon My Pimpin’ and When it all Boils Down, but he notes that nostalgia has been a consistent theme since his earliest days. Before donning his current rap moniker, he went by Deezy McFly and put out a project called Back from the Future.

The Getaway was delayed several times due to COVID-19, waiting on mixes and his own perfectionism, he said. “I just wanted to make sure it was perfect timing and make sure I was talking about the right shit,” he said. “It was just me, ‘I want this song to be right, I want this song to be right.”

In past projects, the rapper utilized soul, R&B and blues samples, almost reappraising the old-school with heavier drum loops. But, DeeZy recruited Tyler Bertges of ethereal indie project Hermit’s Victory to handle the production.

“It’s a real hip-hop, indie rock vibe,” DeeZy said. “I know everybody likes to say they don’t have a genre, but this shit sounds like Woodstock ’99. We had so much fun with this and that’s another reason why it took so long.”

Another noteworthy break from DeeZy’s past tunes is that the rapper doesn’t rely as heavily on samples on The Getaway, opting for primarily live musicians. “This is real worldly,” he said. “I recorded this with a bunch of musicians … this is all us just chilling together. Like, ‘Put that right there, put that on that record.’ We’re just putting things together like a big beautiful puzzle.”

“Paradise Gone,” the album’s intro track, is a bold reincarnation of DeeZy’s sound. The rapper mixed a Styx vocal sample, added live drums from Wolfgang Zimmerman, a fiery guitar groove and some ambient synths you’d expect from an indie band for a surprising and strong opening.

What hits harder than the beat is DeeZy’s words. Listeners will be able to tell that recording with his friends has given the rapper a new energy to deliver some hard-hitting lines.

“Ancestors will carry you, stay on point/ don’t let this crooked system burry you/ they say black people got an attitude/ what you expect when what’s deserved was never handed to you/ Now people died and y’all still ain’t killed Dylann Roof,” he raps on first verse.

Throughout the album, DeeZy discusses topics that apply to the old days and the current world, like racism and police brutality. In fact, he references incidents specific to Charleston, like the night of looting on May 30 after a peaceful protest and the situation a day later in Eastside where armed police officers used crowd-control methods on citizens not protesting. “I talk about my backyard,” he said. “I can’t talk about what’s going on in Minneapolis if I don’t talk about Charleston first.”

But, he’s also quick to point out that it’s just as much about getting away, like the title suggests.

“Yeah, we’re going through all this shit, y’all,” he said. “We’re struggling, we’re hurting, we’re stressed out, we’re tired, but let’s always remember to give ourselves 30 minutes to get away. We’ve got to breathe, we’ve got to meditate, we’ve got go for a walk.”

DeeZy makes an effort to give listeners that 30 minutes to relax, hoping listeners can find something calming in his music. “It’s therapy,” DeeZy said. “I’m there for [people], I’ll always be there for them, I’ll always talk about what I need to talk about, but people got to understand that I’m still going to be myself and have fun on these records. It’s just a bomb-ass therapy session.”

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