The song, from the Raye’s debut album My 21st Century Blues, explores the emotional and mental impact of sexual assault.
Trigger warning: this article contains references to sexual assault.
After years of waiting, Raye’s debut album My 21st Century Blues is finally here. It’s certainly been a long time coming, but while the singer may only just be starting to get a taste of the success she deserves, her music is already making waves.
Since her album release on Friday, one song in particular – titled Ice Cream Man – has attracted plenty of attention.
While Raye has previously performed variations of this song on stage, this is the first time it has been officially released. It opens with a description of the moment she was sexually assaulted by a music producer, before exploring the mental and emotional impact of that assault and others she experienced.
Accompanied by a slow, haunting beat, the song begins: “So, this producer hit me up on the DM. He told me, ‘Hey, I really like what you are doing’. He told me, ‘Come ‘round to the studio, let’s cook it’. He told me, ‘Come to catch a vibe and make some music’. But when I got there, should’ve heard what he was saying – tryna touch me, tryna fuck me, I’m not playing.”
She also explores the emotional toll not being able to identify or talk about those assaults has had on her.
“I was seven, just 21, was 17, was 11,” she sings. “It took a while to understand what consent means. If I was ruthless, they’d be in the penitentiary, but all the stress of being honest wouldn’t help me.”
She continues: “I pushed it down but it was living in me rent free. And then I fell into some things that weren’t healthy.”
Breaking up these points of sadness and reflection, however, are moments of confidence that see Raye reclaim the narrative. As the song reaches its chorus, she sings: “I’m a very fucking brave, strong woman. And I’ll be damned if I let a man ruin how I walk, how I talk, how I do it.”
If one thing’s for sure, Ice Cream Man is a multi-faceted and emotionally complex song that explores life after sexual assault from all angles – and plenty of fans have taken to social media to praise Raye’s bravery and honesty.
Speaking about the song during a recent interview with Rolling Stone UK, Raye explained why releasing the song was so important to her.
“As a woman in and out of this industry, I’ve been through a lot of nasty, traumatic things that I bottled up, didn’t talk about, buried,” she said. “I didn’t feel like there was a place that I could put it. There’s very much a world in which I could have gone on the internet or called up the police, but all of the shit that comes with… Plus, I squirm a little bit even talking […] about it, because there’s still a lot of healing that needs to take place there.”
She continued: “For me the power really is, this is my way of getting to scream through the flipping microphone: ‘You know who you are and you know what you done.’ Sadly, more than one man and more than one time in my life. But you’re going to listen to this song and you’re going to know. That’s power.”
My 21st Century Blues by Raye is out now
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