Raleigh Ritchie’s New Video for Overhauled “Bloodsport” Track Whets Fans’ Appetites for Upcoming Album

If you follow the entity known as “Black Twitter” (hottest source of the news, lingo, and cultural content that everyone else will be jacking ASAP,) you know that the countdown to Frank Ocean’s sophomore album has begun in earnest, with all sorts of Vines, memes, and 140-character entreaties lovingly but firmly (and hilariously) taking Mr. Ocean to task for his unrushed approach to getting new music out. But Raleigh Ritchie, another fledgling pop genius, has fans just as on-edge for his upcoming debut CD (slated for release later this year) following two EPs of original material, a remix EP, and a couple of sterling singles. And he just treated those fans to a fantastic appetizer, a video for a retooled version of fan-favorite track, “Bloodsport,” from the 2013 EP Black & Blue.

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The UK singer-songwriter-actor is still best known outside music circles as actor Jacob Anderson; he intentionally bifurcated his music and acting careers, choosing a separate name for the music side to underscore that there is no overlap. Though he’s appeared in several British films and TV series, it’s his role as Grey Worm on “Game of Thrones” that’s given him global recognition, which will hopefully give his recording career the supportive foundation he deserves.

 Ritchie is a smart, poetic songwriter. He crafts storylines and scenarios that are always at least slightly left-of-center, full of aching twists and often dark (sometimes darkly humorous) turns. A soulful singer, he grab-bags genre (hip-hop, dubstep, grime, R&B…) for a sound and songwriting POV unlike anything else out there right now, carefully choosing collaborators just as hungry and inventive as he is. The retooled “Bloodsport” now features live strings for orchestral flourishes that underscore the track’s moody introspectiveness, and the video is another in his growing body of arresting music clips.  (Here’s “Stay Inside” and his breakthrough hit “Stronger Than Ever.”) And here he is doing a live version of “Bloodsport”:

Ernest Hardy is a Sundance Fellow whose music and film criticism have appeared in the New York Times, the Village Voice, Vibe, Rolling Stone, LA Times, and LA Weekly. His collection of criticism, Blood Beats Vol. 1: Demos, Remixes and Extended Versions (2006) was a recipient of the 2007 PEN / Beyond Margins Award.