You might be more familiar with Raleigh Ritchie (aka Jacob Anderson) from his acting work than his musical career: Anderson plays eunuch warrior Grey Worm on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Not content with being seen simply as “an actor who sings”, he is determined to make an authentic impact on the current musical scene. His latest album, the aptly named You’re A Man Now, Boy, seems deliberately engineered to resonate with listeners, if only because of the wrenching honesty Ritchie presents in the lyrics.
In many ways, the album is pure introspection, dealing with issues swirling around identity, adulthood and early-20s confusion. Ritchie’s music is intensely personal, but also fiendishly catchy. You’re A Man Now, Boy seems to sit somewhere between pop and hip hop, but Ritchie’s smooth-as-silk voice also suggests RnB or at times even soul, effortlessly straddling genres to achieve a unique contemporary sound. Ritchie proves himself to be a versatile vocalist: the humming synths and contagious beat of summer anthem Keep It Simple are tempered by spitfire rap over the bridge, whilst lead single Bloodsport ’15 features sensual harmonies and the kind of beat likely to stay in your head for days.
Ritchie wrestles again and again with adult identity, lost love, self-doubt, but layers the pain under some truly intoxicating rhythms. “I’m not growing up, I’m aging/My mind’s incarcerated” he sings delicately on the album’s titular track, over a solemn, thumping beat. The entire record sounds beautifully polished, care of some of the biggest producers in the game right now including Mike Elizondo (Dre Dre, Eminem) and DJ Dahi (Drake). You’re A Man Now, Boy, just might persuade audiences to think of Ritchie as a musican first, actor second.