Up-and-coming

Ray Fuego

It’s usually the bigger fish we talk about; the musicians we already know, the ones playing after the supporting programme. As Subbacultcha’s all about discovering the new, the up-and-coming, the fresh and the innovative, we want to dedicate a space to them once a month, highlighting the ways in which they enrich our hearing.

Straight outta Bijlmer, meet Ray Fuego. Born as Rayvel Pieternella he quickly made himself known to the world with a punk infused hip-hop and rebellious attitude. In 2014 he released his EP Bummy Boys and nearly set the Internet on fire with his uncensored videos. Not shy of using too many curse words or some controversy, Ray soon became the new Dutch hip-hop sensation, playing big festivals like hip-hop hub Appelsap. But who is this Bummy Boy behind some angry punk?

Words by Laura Ramos

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It takes only one look at Ray Fuego’s lyrics to know that his hometown Bijlmer, in the Southeast area of Amsterdam, played a big part in his development. When society cast ‘The Bims’ aside, its young residents didn’t. Fed up with the lack of interest and initiative in their hometown, they created a platform for future generations. Thanks to Ray Fuego and his friends, SMIB (the reverse of Bims) was born. A platform where all kinds of creative people can come together and help each other grow and create. As a member and friend of Ray Fuego, GRGY said in an interview with VICE ‘SMIB is like a universe in which everyone can create its own planet, if you try hard enough.’

But Ray Fuego isn’t just another rebel without a cause. His sinister music resonates the frustration that rages through many young teens these days. Dark beats, animalistic background noises and words as ‘bitch’ and ‘nigga’ are spit out in songs like ‘Gedropt’ (ft. Dess Finesse) or ‘Bummy Boys’. In an interview with VICE he explains ‘we live in hell right now; you have to pay for everything and if you have no money, there is an invisible wall surrounding you; you can’t move. That’s a bit the vibe here in Bijlmer.’

This sense of isolation is enhanced by his lyrics, which are an incomprehensible mix of English, Dutch and a whole lot of invented words. Impossible for any outsider to completely comprehend, the use of an invented language and not the one prescribed by society is yet another way to distance himself from the system and throw them a big middle finger in the face.

Fuego’s ‘anti’ attitude goes beyond his music; it is present in his whole appearance. As a fashion student dropout, his style has always been a medium for him to express himself. Even in his early years he knew exactly what he wanted to look like. In an interview with VICE he explains that he ‘just wanted a look that went against everything and which would attract people who dared to think differently.’ He regularly paints messages on his clothes so people get exactly what Ray Fuego stands for. His style is a perfect way for him to channel his punk attitude and challenge our norms, not shying away from nail polish and pink sunglasses. Everything he wears is carefully put together and shows the endless creativity that’s bubbling inside Ray Fuego.

While people have been saying punk has been dead for over twenty years, Ray Fuego proves them wrong. Everything about Ray Fuego expresses rebellion and an anti-system attitude. However, this Babyuegod is about more; he shows his community is more than drugs, drinking and sex. Alongside his SMIB-colleagues, Ray inspires younger generations of ‘outcasts’ to create and do what they want to; to live life how they want to live it. The 16th of June he’ll be playing at De Ruimte, Ghent, and as his former performances at Appelsap, Vrijheidsfestival and DWDD proved, it’ll be a gloomy and intense night for sure!

Ray Fuego plays In De Ruimte, Ghent, 16 June. The show is exclusive and free for members and their +1. Become one here.