Label: Island Records
Released: 1st October 2021
Ray BLK has found the secret ingredient to making you feel like the baddest version of yourself, and she’s injected into every single beat of her long-awaited debut album, ‘ACCESS DENIED’. Across fourteen tracks, Ray makes a stellar case for recognising your own worth and taking no shit, and it is completely invigorating.
Opener ‘BLK MADONNA’ sets the tone immaculately – each track combines a beat primed to dance to with vocals that leave you clinging to every word. Her voice might be deliciously honeyed and sweet, but they explore some underlying frustration with characteristic wit. ‘Baggage’ is intoxicating: a reflection of her past; it’s simultaneously accepting and unapologetic. One thing is for certain: Ray always says it straight, as it is, and it’s unbelievably refreshing.
‘25’ sees Ray lament how she is “too young to feel this tired”, but she sounds anything but. Each track explodes with fevered, vivacious life and an inimitable energy. She invites some standout guests from Giggs to Kaash Paige on tracks like ‘Games’, which absolutely sizzles with heat. The best moments, though, are when Ray remains centre stage. She makes it resoundingly clear that she knows her own value and will not settle for less, and the assuredness with which she portrays that reminds you of your own, too.
On ‘Dark Skinned’, she celebrates Black femininity and condemns the archaic, toxic place the music industry can be. Each (very much warranted) word of criticism is delivered with a very much ‘over it’ eye roll – it feels like a commitment to not waste any more time on things that drain her precious energy. It’s a mantra that threads throughout the album, and once you start to embrace that, those dance-ready moments of soul are there to pick you up. On ‘ACCESS DENIED’, Ray BLK euphorically reclaims her power, and she offers the perfect opportunity for you to do the same.