Naomi Raine talks about her debut album “Journey”: Interview – Rated R&B | Region & Cash

“I literally feel like I’ve delivered a baby,” Naomi Raine told Rated R&B over the phone. It’s the release day of her debut solo album, Trip, and the Grammy-winning singer is relieved to have it figured out. “After you give birth to a baby, you can usually hold it in your arms. I feel like I can enjoy it now and not feel the pressure of releasing it.”

Raine, also a member of the Maverick City Music collective, originally came up with the idea for the recording Trip back in 2016. It was around the time she started working on her worship project, Back to Edenwhich was eventually released in 2019. Back then, Raine wanted to release it as a double album Trip. “The release took longer Trip than I wanted, but I made sure to take my time and get the work done,” she says.

Raine spent the beginning of this year recording Tripresulting in 15 songs and seven interludes referred to as Car Talks on the album. Trip is a compilation of some of Raine’s innermost thoughts, inspired by her trials and tribulations. On the album, she explores mental health, motherhood, and the ups and downs of marriage, among other things.

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“I think I just had trouble with the transition, letting go of the old and being there for the new,” Raine shares of the album’s inspiration. “I’ve been through some depression and just the stuff of life.”

Instead of being ashamed of life’s adversities, Raine was empowered to embrace them through song. “Coming out of church, fighting is such a shame. I wanted to push that a bit and say, ‘Wait, why are we ashamed to be human? Why are we ashamed to fight? Why are we ashamed to have feelings?’ I think there’s a way for us to go through these things, to be honest and vulnerable. That is one of the keys to freedom, healing, peace, growth and change,” says Raine.”

In May, Raine released “Not Ready” as the lead single Trip. Here she describes her struggle with accepting personal change.

“I know I need to pray but I don’t know how to say / I’m not ready, I’m not ready to change,” she sings over a hip-hop-influenced production. Raise was forced to share “Not Ready” as the lead single because it “felt like the culmination of the whole project and why the project was started.”

Of the song, she notes, “It was from the ‘I’m going to surrender to God’ room. I do not know what to do. I don’t even want to do what I probably should do, but I’ll just get what I need from Him.’ I think that’s one of the biggest messages of the project. God wants to know how we feel. It’s okay to pray and it’s okay to seek Him, even if you’re not willing to do all the things you think He’s going to ask you to do.”

In Rated R&B’s interview with Naomi Raine, the singer/songwriter delves into more of her songs Tripshares R&B singers who inspired her, teases an upcoming solo tour, and more.

Naomi Raine Journey Album Interview
Naomi Raine. (Photo: Erick Robinson/TRIBL)

Her debut album came out just weeks after Maverick City Music’s Kingdom Book One. How did you juggle the work on the two albums?

That was definitely an achievement. I’m a workaholic. I work hard and I won’t stop until I get what I want. I’ll be honest, the release took longer Trip than I wanted, but made sure to take my time and do the work that was necessary for me to do both. This was a moment I needed to take some time to do what I felt was a personal message from me.

“Paper plate” is an interesting way of describing stress management. What is the story behind this song?

I was at a venue for lunch with some friends. I noticed that they brought out real dishes to eat the food on. I was wondering, ‘Why didn’t they just grab some paper plates when we [are] ready, can we get out of here?” I thought, “What’s going on?” I’ve noticed that some people prefer to eat on real plates. I say, “Oh, I’m different. I’m the one who prefers the convenience and ease of paper plates.”

I was on an airplane. I started looking at my life like, “Oh wow Naomi. You really prefer convenience and life isn’t always easy. Perhaps you are struggling in some areas of your life because you are not willing to do the difficult things that require more work. If you carry on out of convenience, yes it will be easy, but the quality of your life will be lower.” So I sat on that plane and I started writing this song. I came home and worked all day recording tracks and vocals.

“Hold On” with Brik.Liam tells about a difficult phase in a relationship. What inspired this song?

As I was writing it, I overheard a couple I knew arguing. I started thinking about what I would have said to my husband if I were in this situation. I would get in the car, open the sunroof, look at the stars and dream of our future. I thought about how easily we give up on relationships—or important things—and forget the promises God has given us. It’s really a song that says, ‘I don’t know what kind of fights we’re going to get into. I don’t know what’s in store for us in the future, but I’m just asking you to hold on. We may not be great, but if we persevere we will make it.”

“World on Fire” starring Ryan Avery seems to reflect the events that we have witnessed over the last few years. What was your thought process while writing?

World on Fire is about my perspective during the pandemic. It starts outside, then it goes inside and my world is on fire because there was so much going on. Many of us were stuck in our homes and supposedly protected from the outside. A lot of us have been with family – and family is great – but sometimes it gets a little interesting when you don’t want to get stuck inside. Some people were stuck inside alone. I feel like we all had to confront what it meant to be lonely and what it meant to be alone, to know yourself – to know your family – and to deal with the pain of a pandemic and all that happened to finish.

World on Fire is when they started setting things on fire, when there were protests and all that. I think some of us just automatically think, “Oh, you shouldn’t set things on fire.” I started to question it. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m just saying that maybe setting things on fire and starting over isn’t a bad thing. Maybe that’s how you get people’s attention. Maybe this is [how] We change things and get out of where we are now. It’s like a reflection on this time during the pandemic.

What was your intention with Choosing Myself?

I think this is my favorite song. Choosing Myself is about me. I’m literally talking to myself. I’ve had a few moments in my life where I’ve stood in front of the mirror and looked myself in the eye. I had those moments and I felt like, “This is you. This is the truth.” I had to face it. This song is about the conversation with the girl in the mirror telling me to choose myself and not keep pretending I’m someone I’m not.

Mali Music performs at Like You ($u!€!d£) How did the song come about?

“Like You” is a song I wrote for the Lord. It’s basically like, “I want to love you until I kill the things inside me that want to do the wrong thing instead of honoring you, loving you, or serving you.” It’s a song of devotion. It says my insecurities [have] walk. This is stuff I want to kill as an act of loving God, not because I’m afraid he won’t love or accept me, but because I love him and want to be like him.

Naomi Raine Journey Album Interview

Trip contains seven auto chats that are interludes that help bring the album together. What motivated you to include these nuggets in the project?

I realized that some of the most treasured moments I would have in a day were those little moments when we talked. I’ve talked to my friends or sometimes, let’s be honest, to myself (laughs) about real things. I remember listening to albums like Lauryn Hill’s Mistake and those moments of them talking added so much clarity and context to the songs that I learned, got to know, and love them. I wanted to give that to people listening to the music so they don’t have to guess.

You mentioned Lauryn Hill. Are there other R&B singers who influenced you in any way?

Yes, in any case. Brandy is number one on my list. All day every day. She inspired me vocally and even with her passion – the way she performs her songs is so real. Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Mary J Blige, and Whitney Houston [and] Mariah Carey. These are artists who have shaped and shaped me. I grew up with these voices. Mariah is a dope writer. People don’t even give her the credit she deserves. From the beginning she told stories through her songs.

What is one thing you hope listeners will take away from you? Trip?

I hope they understand that God loves us. He agrees that we are honest. That honesty is the journey. I think a lot of us act like we want to please people, but I don’t think the goal should be to please people. We should please our Creator. I think our Creator is more comfortable with our humanity and the truth of who we actually are than with ourselves. I also hope that they will become self-aware and okay with going on the journey that God has taken us all has.

What are you looking forward to this year after your debut album?

I hope and plan to go on tour in October. I think it will be really fun to sing some of these songs. I will have a coffee talk in Dallas, LA and Chicago. If anyone is interested in coming out there, we can chat about things in real time in a room while sipping coffee.

Stream Naomi Raine’s debut album Journey below.

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