Porter Ray gets comfortable in the uncomfortable on his new LP Watercolor. The east Seattle rapper dives deep into description of narratives both colorful and tragic. Ray mourns and contemplates death on “The Mirror Between Us.” He’s not afraid to open some cuts, letting them bleed out with verses like: “Can’t front, that shit fucked me up mentally/ Sometimes I wish that your bullet had been meant for me.” Jus Moni wraps up the track with buoyant vocals, singing “Imagine if you were free” over seductive hi-hats.
Much of Watercolor invests itself in lessons of loss and getting caught up in unfortunate fates. But there’s a unifying tone to Ray’s tales. The dizzying interlude “Everybody,” featuring Fly Guy Dai of Shabazz Palaces, promotes the universal law of empathy. “Everybody gonna die/ Everybody got somebody in the sky,” Ray anxiously raps. “Everybody feels pain/ Everybody feels shame.” The production is spacious, fluid, and dreamy. It’s celestial. It’s entrancing.
The laid back feel dilutes the existential hardship that Ray discusses. Watercolor arrives after a tough upbringing, including the death of Ray’s father, losing his younger brother to accidental gun violence, and witnessing the incarceration of loved ones in the following years. Some of these familial voices are featured, including Ray’s mom Debra Sullivan (“My Mother’s Words”) and his son (“Arithmetic”). There are also plenty of Seattle guests including THEESatisfaction’s Stas THEE Boss, Cashtro, Nate Jack, the aforementioned Jus Moni among others. We’ve already heard the great Shabazz Palaces collab “Sacred Geometry,” and now the whole album is available to stream below.
Watercolor is officially out 3/10 via Sub Pop. Pre-order it here.