Raye is done giving a fuck about what people think. After being locked in a cage of her former record label for more than five years and unable to release a debut album, Raye is ready to show the world her star power as she debuts unapologetic anthem “Hard Out Here” with Rolling Stone.
“I can’t even tell you how liberated I feel,” Raye tells Rolling Stone. “This video is me done being a nice polite pop star. And for the first time, I’m performing and preparing to tell my truth — unapologetically and with no fear.”
Filmed at Henry the Eighth’s old hunting lodge (the King was “notorious for his disrespect toward women,” she says), Raye brought all the different iterations of the artist she was told to be while signed to Polydor: a time when she was to change looks, genres, and identities to fit her label’s belief of who she should be.
“I was reminded very often that I’m unaware of who I am, which led me to constantly look for outward validation from people who have no idea what it is to be a biracial woman,” she says.
By the end of the music video, Raye removes her wig to show her natural hair as a symbol of her newfound liberation.
“Me taking off my wig at the end is me saying I’m no longer satisfied with pretending. I’m no longer willing to compromise my voice and who I am, because I have purpose,” she says. “And while that may not fit in the boxes that I was bound to, it is more than good enough.”
The wig removal is only a visual representation of that freedom since the song is filled with fiery rap verses that prove she’s already freed herself from the chains of forced conformity.
The track is a direct middle-fingers-up to the men who tried to control her, and also an anthem for women who continue to be the target of oppression and disrespect by those in power. Her lyrics voice “the still-so-prevalent disparity between men and women,” especially those like her in the music industry.
“I feel like as women, we’re often made to feel as if we have to suppress or overperform in rooms where white male supremacy still dominates culture,” she says. (On the track, she raps, “All the white men CEOs fuck your privilege/Get your pink chubby hands of my mouth./Fuck you think this is?”)
Raye signed to The Orchard’s Human Re Sources earlier this month, a year after she publicly confronted her former label on Twitter, writing that despite being signed since 2014 and having tons of music “collecting dust,” she was still “awaiting confirmation that I am good enough to release an album.” (She’d later open up in interviews to say she nearly considered quitting music altogether.)
holding it inside and pretending I am 100% fabulous will only hurt more. So here it is. Today I feel like a toilet. I’m going to be brave and talk about it. You are not alone, we can talk about our worries and our tears. It’s not embarrassing to speak out, It is brave #callonme pic.twitter.com/nFx3IHDcuE
— RAYE (@raye) June 29, 2021
Speaking of feeling “not good enough,” the new song’s backing track was actually one she created with Justin Tranter and Mike Sabbath when she was 19. At the time, she remembered being “so in love with the beat,” but her then-team wasn’t feeling it.
“When I made my intense tweets, I [knew] this is the beat I need to flow on. It just represents so much for me with the struggles I went through to even just having control of my sound,” she says. “I literally sat there for a day in a flood of tears super, super angry. I put on those headphones and wrote a whole new song over the original beat.”
The song is a fair warning to those who did her dirty: “This LP full of shit I’m gonna say to you… See how I flow when I’m in pain, I’m gonna pray for you.”
Three years after her Jax Jones collab “You Don’t Know Me” became a hit, Raye is determined to prove that she is more than just “good enough.”
And she wants new listeners to know one thing about her: “I don’t like to be confined or boxed in. I hate that… I know exactly who I am. It’s not one sound. It’s not one thing you can pinpoint… I’ve got a lot of stories to share.”