Not very often, but every now and then – there's like this song. A song when you hear it for the first time, it stops you dead in your tracks. "What is that tune?" you might ask yourself. Like hearing Lorde's Royals for the first time, or Hozier's Take Me To Church.
This happened again whilst driving around with a friend, when Human by Rag'n'Bone Man came on the radio.
Clearly we're not the only ones to feel this way. Rag'n'Bone Man is the BRIT Awards Critics' Choice for 2017, and this morning Apple Music featured his essentials as the 'Hot Playlist' of the day.
First of all – who knew that Rag'n'Bone Man had enough of a catalog to have an essentials playlist?
Well, clearly he does. Apple's description hints at an interesting story behind this currently-breaking-big-time artist. So let's find out more about Rag'n'Bone Man.
The story of Rag'n'Bone Man is how hard work, even in the often-brutal music industry, can pay off big time. Daily Record described him as the hardest working man in music.
Born in the UK in 1985, he's been in music ever since he was a kid. He's been in and around hip-hop, drum and bass, and even blues; as MC, rapper, and singer. His approach was making music and performing it live, years before he got signed.
As a result, he's built up a loyal fanbase throughout Europe and the UK.
In his own words:
“I come from a scene that was very DIY. Even before I was signed four or five years ago, I worked really hard. I played festivals for no money, I put everything into it.
That meant I established a really strong fanbase early on. I still get people coming up to me at gigs with mixtapes or CDs of mine from years ago, so it feels really nice that people are still onboard.”
– Rory Graham, AKA Rag'n'Bone Man in an interview with the Daily Record
Studio vs Stage
Rag'n'Bone Man develops his music by performing live. He performs his tracks live in front of an audience multiple times before they even get recorded.
He emphasises that performing music live is it's own skill, that doesn't necessarily come naturally after spending time in a studio.
At first, I didn’t focus that much on the internet. I was more: I’m going to write songs, and I’d have sung that song out in a club, pub or a jam session or whatever 10 times before I recorded it. We live in an internet age, and if you don’t embrace it, you get left behind a bit. But live is still really important, and I don’t think people hone their craft live enough.
I think there’s an attitude these days that you can go straight from a studio to the stage, and it isn’t really like that. But playing live was the most important thing for me at the start because whenever I recorded something, it didn’t sound right, I didn’t like how my voice sounded. It was just raw.
– Rag'n'Bone Man in an interview with the Guardian
The track Human was released in July 2016.
It was commercially successful around Europe before UK critics started lining up to praise Rag'n'Bone Man.
All the indicators are here, he's climbed up basically any chart you can imagine. Human is number one in multiple countries, his lyrics are googled a lot, and he's listed on the Twitter Emerging Artists Chart (which apparently is a thing now).
And now, NME has put him on the cover – read the interview here.
Turns out, all this hype is because
Human the album comes out tomorrow.
And we're guessing it'll be big. As one would expect, there's a massive tour lined up following the release, 38 dates according to Songkick throughout Europe and the UK.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to get tickets now before it all blows up.