Sickboyrari, perhaps better known as Black Kray, is the founder of Goth Money Records, a well-respected and highly influential group of underground artists. It is difficult for me to use the term “underground” when referring to Goth Money Records, though, as their credentials are by no means indicative of such designation. The deciding factor of such semantics is the group’s frequently vocalized aversion to mainstream mentality; in a Vice interview, Kane Grocerys (one of Goth Money’s more forthright members) noted that “[They] don’t make music for the media. [They] make music for each other.” This salient reflection speaks to the nonconformist style that continues to present itself in their extensive discography.
Despite Kray’s surprising youth, Goth Money Records has had a significant internet presence for many years. The group consists of an eclectic amalgamation of unique talent from many different parts of the country—from LA to Virginia. Black Kray took initiative in 2013, initiating the group’s unusual beginnings by connecting intergenerational musical presences through social media. The result is an intracontinental group, comprising of Kane Grocerys, Marcy Mane, Luckaleann, HunnedMill, Karmah, and (the hero of this story) Sickboyrari AKA Black Kray. In the early days of Goth Money, the group toured with Yung Lean, an artist whom we cherish here at The Kollection; the group also has ties to highly influential artists such as Lil Ugly Mane, Bones, and SpaceGhostPurrp. These collaborations with internet legends quickly facilitated the group’s digital presence.
The group’s style is unique and unmistakable; tracks often consist of an unconventional, hazy melody that is often considered to be an acquired taste. Although they have gained much of a following, Kray feels that they are misunderstood. He voiced his disdain for the misattributed label of “goth rap;” he deems this myopic compartmentalism as “weird and corny.” Perhaps the term “goth” has a bad reputation in the eyes of the mainstream music consumer; or maybe people just tend to pigeonhole artists based on a cursory first impression. Either way, behind their misinterpreted facade, the group has been unwaveringly devoted to positivity for many years.
Goth Money members tend to communicate such optimism in an unconventional manner, so such misunderstanding is justifiable; luckily, Kane Grocerys was able to delineate their motivation. In a 2015 interview, he spoke on the group’s mission statement:
“The main thing we’re trying to spread, like the message, is to be original and be authentic and be yourself. All of us, we are ourselves. We stay true to each other. We don’t like the negativity. We all positive. We don’t want to be better than each other. We just want all of us to be the best. We all want to shine. That’s just how the world should be. We want to see everybody that’s around us—cousins, sisters, brothers, grandmas—shine.”
These words are refreshing and inspirational, as they speak to an intentional deviation from the systemic conformity of the music industry. This proliferation of positivity is certainly apparent in Black Kray’s new album, Euro Glime. The eight-track project, although undeniably brief, encapsulates the energy Kane vocalized so eloquently. Without further rumination on the mysterious and exciting intricacies of Goth Money Records, let’s get to the details of the new Kray album.
I’d like to begin with the following statement: this album is raw and genuine, and it’s a project that you can listen to without the nagging pressures of preconceived notions. The tracks embody a similar and cohesive energy, so it’s easy to glide through the 18 minutes without any tension. Here are some tracks that really stand out on the album:
Narnia, the third track, is a relaxing melody that allows listeners to escape into a realm of sedation. Kray’s placid demeanor matches the spacey beat perfectly, and the song seems to perpetuate itself with a comfortable and constant level of energy. Kray’s delivery is simple and poised, and when the energy begins to diminish, he calculatedly recovers, recapturing attention. This cyclical sensation of drifting away and returning to the present is soothing.
Uk 2 804, the following song, carries the same jaded energy as does Narnia, and Kray’s languorous vibe is honest and clean. There are very few artists who can maintain engagement in the midst of such leisure. Oftentimes artists strive to portray an eccentric and distinguishable persona; the issue with this identity, though, is that it can come across as forced or disingenuous. Instead of this exhibitionist persona, we get respectful and charismatic bars like these: “fly with my goons like an angel / came up with nothing, with my gang, so I’m thankful.” Kray is simply staying true to himself, and the culmination of his transparency is inspiring.
Angel Wings My Goons follows, and the detached, lethargic, and maybe even psychedelic melody continues. At this point in the album, you begin to feel like you are floating through a myriad of extraordinary emotions, all of which do not surprise you, despite their stirring magnitude. Sickboyrari has allowed you to transcend into a new level of acceptance and emotional intelligence—even though you may not understand what he’s saying at times. We then seamlessly transition to Choppa Sing Like Violins, produced by GOTHBOICLIQUE’s Coldhart. This track is a bit less comatose than the previous melody, but similar energy is maintained. The beat is comfortable; Coldy’s simple use of strings beautifully coincides with Kray’s voice, affording listeners the ability to detach.
And then (I can hardly contain myself) we get to penultimate track, Red. This is one of my favorite songs at the moment, and it is conceivably the most engaging on the project. I may just be a Goth Money fanboy, but this song has the capacity to bring me to tears. The melody is intoxicating and Kray’s voice has a level of sincerity that caresses your attention—even through the perpetual lack of enunciation. Kray tends to meander around the beat’s cadence, but he does so with precision and intent, and its captivating as hell. Every time I listen to this track, I can’t help but run it back; well done, Kray.
For lack of better phrasing, this album is damn good. It is simple, elegant, and unrepeatable. At times it has the tendency to feel unprofessional, but that is the point. This album, much like Goth Money’s motto, is about being yourself and letting go. There is a sense of inchoate beauty amidst the excessive gunshots—and all the other perplexing sound effects on the album; but these idiosyncrasies make this project truly his own. This album is very much a spiritual experience, and the feeling cultivated by Black Kray’s everlasting honesty is representative of the legendary group he assembled at a pivotal time in the rap game.