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Event Details

Sean Healy Presents
Rexx Life Raj Travis Thompson Teddy Truman
with Rexx Life Raj, Travis Thompson, Teddy Truman
Hip-Hop/Rap Alternative Rap Hip-Hop/Rap
Sun October 9, 2022 8:30 pm (Doors: 7:30 pm )
Beat Kitchen , 2100 West Belmont, Chicago, IL
Ages 17 and Up
Rexx Life Raj
On the heels of his fifth EP as Rexx Life Raj, Faraji Wright was ready to lighten things up a bit.
He’d cultivated a fanbase by fusing introspective personal and political commentary with
sunbaked Bay Area grooves, and never had that mission felt more realized than on California
Poppy 2, a project that confronted the realities of the Black American experience with incisive
pragmatism and some of his biggest hooks to date. But “putting the candy in the medicine,” as
he puts it, can be emotionally taxing, and the former D1 football player-turned-rapper had
reached a point in his career where he was ready to pivot from immensely personal material to
straight bangers that could shake a festival’s grounds.
None of those ambitions would have been possible if it hadn’t been for his mother, the woman
who instilled his love of music to begin with through her days singing in the church choir. When
she was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer in summer 2020, Raj’s whole world tilted off its
axis. He’d moved in with his parents at the start of the pandemic in an effort to help her watch
after his father, whose routine dialysis appointments and diabetic complications required
constant attention. Now tasked with stepping into the role of caretaker for the both of them,
and faced with the harrowing obligation of not leaving anything unsaid, Raj was forced to put
the music on the backburner and spend every minute he could with his parents.
Near the end of her journey, his mother encouraged him to pick the pen back up, telling him
that “no matter what happens, beautiful music will come from this.” With her blessing in tow,
Raj began to work on his fifth studio LP, The Blue Hour. As opposed to previous Rexx Life Raj
records, many of which arose from convivial full-band studio sessions, Raj wrote the bulk of the
album from the solitude of his parents’ home in Vallejo. Grief doesn’t always start at death, and
the path it leaves is often messy. Raj’s lyrics began to reflect the nonlinearity of his experience,
the songs housing painful sentiments that he needed to give voice to in order to heal. It soon
became clear that these would not be the songs that he wanted to make, they’re the songs he
had to make.
The Blue Hour covers its emotionally turbulent ground with sonic and vocal dexterity. At times,
that manifests in some of his most stripped-back material to date, such as on the gorgeously
plaintive acoustic opener “New Normal.” At other times, the treacherous circumstances are the
galvanizing forces behind full-throttle heaters like “No Days Off” and “Scared Money,” or subtle
flexes like the hypnotic Larry June collaboration “Jerry Curl.” Largely, though, these are songs
about trying to persevere to the point of equilibrium. It’s perhaps best encapsulated by “Beauty
In The Madness,” in which Raj, Wale and Fireboy DML posit love as the antidote for a
relentlessly merciless timeline. Each of these distinct moments are unified by Raj’s mother’s
prayers — the first spoken just days after her initial diagnosis, and the final spoken just days
before her passing in the spring of 2021.
This is all to say that The Blue Hour isn’t an album defined by sadness; it’s one that emanates
with unwavering faith, gratitude, and motivation. While its bracing specificity makes it a deeply
personal endeavor, healing is a communal experience, one that Raj invites us to partake with
him. The record gets its name from an evening in San Leandro, one where the sapphire softness
and depth of the sky right after the sunset left a lasting impression. “To me, my mom was the
sun,” Raj says. “She was the mom that was everyone’s mom. Any sport I played, she was the
cheerleader on the sidelines. She was the loud mom in the crowd. She was decked out in the
gear. She was my biggest fan, no matter what I did. She was pure love.” If there’s a force more
powerful than grief, it’s everlasting love. With The Blue Hour, Rexx Life Raj has found his way
back to it.
Travis Thompson
Alternative Rap
Teddy Truman