Raury – Never Come Down

Atlantan rap's great teenage hope tells us why God told him he'll be huge in this new film by Danielle Levitt

Dazed presents world-renowned photographer and filmmaker Danielle Levitt as Visionary. Having worked extensively across high-fashion, art and pop-culture culture, Danielle has had many famous faces in front of her camera as well as a wide range of young and alternative characters - internet stars, waterpolo teams, boxers, queers and 70 year old cheerleaders amongst them. For State of Music, Dazed's final week of States of Independence, Danielle enters the world of the young and upcoming Atlanta-based musician Raury, profiled here in a feature from our new print issue. She brings us an intimate portrait, talking about making music, dreams and growing up and living in Atlanta. 

How was it immersing yourself in Raury’s world? What are its particulars? 

Danielle Levitt: There is great joy in letting others allow you intimate access to their lives. Trust is the primary function in gaining that access, so entering Raury’s world, I was open and excited to learn about him. Raury is very insightful, and curious. The experience was collaborative, he came with a clear idea of who he was and what he wanted to represent. It was refreshing and allowed me to be very present with him.

What made you seek out film-making after an accomplished career as a fashion photographer? What kind of new challenges and goals came with that?

Danielle Levitt: I think that my photographs have always spoken, told a story or at least that was my hope. After years of creating an environment where I allowed my subjects to be who they are, I felt it only natural to move to a sphere that allowed them to also speak for themselves. The people I choose to celebrate and champion are interesting, unique people. I want to hear their stories. 

Your work has been constantly referred to as either a cross-over or intersection between high-fashion, art and pop-culture photography. What do you think of that perception of it?
Danielle Levitt: I create work out of a desire to learn, immerse and participate. Perception of the work does not drive its creation. Its the viewer that ultimately choses how it is understood, but I appreciate that my work accesses multiple platforms. 

Your work seems to cover a remarkable breadth of characters and ways of life - but there seems to be a continuous drive to explore youth culture. Why is that a topic that seems to continuously interest you?  
Danielle Levitt: I think when you are young you have a playfulness, a fearlessness, and a pride that is really bold and not necessarily very studied. That’s invaluable to me - there is a certain amount of authenticity that I think is at the core of my work and young people seem to bring that without fail. They might be self conscious, awkward but it’s still a pure emotion and I respond to that the most. 

How do you think the world of photography has changed since you started photographing?
Danielle Levitt: Photography has always been a language we have used to tell stories, but with the advent and use of digital media, this story telling is more common and accessible. However it doesn’t remove the artists responsibility to engage the viewer in an honest and dynamic way, but now perhaps, it feels a bit easier to do so.

A film by Danielle Levitt
Producer Stephanie Porto
Director of photography Evan Scott
Editor Adam Robinson at the Whitehouse
Music Raury Tullis
Stylist Gro Curtis
Online editor and colorist Kim Stevenson MassMarket
Additional lighting  Jordan Zuppa and Victor Protasio
Sound mix by Lime Studios
Special thank you to Justice Baiden, Sean McNichol, and Rosalyn Tullis