Raye says ambitious new song ‘Genesis’ is ‘a plea and a cry for help’

British pop sensation Raye has said she wanted to create something as “deeply personal and as raw” as she could for her ambitious new single, “Genesis”.

Fresh from sweeping the 2024 Brit Awards with a record-breaking six wins, the 26-year-old told The Independent that the track, a seven-minute epic laid out in three acts, is at once “a prayer and a plea and a cry for help”.

“There is a Nina Simone quote, ‘It is an artist's duty to reflect the times’. This quote is everything to me and I believe the best way I can try to do this is through my art and my music,” she said.

“There is so much darkness and pain in this world we live in, and I wanted to create something both as deeply personal and as raw as I could find myself to be about my own mind and the world I see around me.”

Raye, real name Rachel Keen, also revealed she spent over a year working on the project, experimenting with various genres and sonic expressions, with an underlying message beneath those layers of: “Let There Be Light.”

“It is a prayer and a plea and a cry for help and I really hope this song will be able to bring some hope, the way this music does for me, to those who need it most,” she said.

“Genesis” is Raye’s first official release since her critically adored, Mercury Prize-shortlisted debut My 21st Century Bluesin 2023, and comes after months of teasing the track during live performances, including during her triumphant Brits appearance in March.

At the ceremony, she dominated a number of the biggest awards categories, taking home prizes for Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist and Best R&B Act, as well as performing a medley that featured hits “Escapism” and “Prada”.

“Genesis” signals a brand new phase for the artist, as she incorporates elements of big band, jazz, hip-hop, gospel and R&B. On part one, she struggles with the negative voices in her head, ego and the distractions of social media, while enveloped by swooning harmonies and sweeping strings.

Raye has released her new work ‘Genesis’ (Press)
Raye has released her new work ‘Genesis’ (Press)

On part two, she croons over skittering hip-hop percussion, snares and an ominous brass section: “Oh she a sad little sinner, in the mirror/ The devil works hard, like my liver.”

It develops into a battle cry, as Raye reflects on the issues plaguing society, returning again and again to the refrain: “Let there be light.”

Towards the close, she reflects on “fake democracy, killing overseas, killing ourselves, suicide, government lies, discrimination, hating ourselves... why oh why keep going, why try, why?”

“Dear god in the sky/ Hear my cry,” she pleads.

Closing the three acts, she flips the sound to a twenties-influenced big band style and adding vocal trills and flourishes as she hails “all the builders and the cleaners/ For all the farmers and the chefs and the train drivers, yes/ The nurses, and the doctors/ God bless the NHS/ Let the pay rise, let the pay rise!”

“Genesis” is out now on all major streaming platforms and as a limited edition seven-inch vinyl.