|Label:||Global Artist Group|
|Twitter:||Ray Lavender on Twitter|
|Website:||Ray Lavender's Website|
The knock on artists who rap and sing about outrageous and extraordinary topics is that the common, everyday man and woman cannot relate. Too often a listener is heard saying, “Yeah, right, like that could ever happen to me!?”
For Monroe, Louisiana, singer Earl Ray Lavender (otherwise known as Ray-L) it’s all about being completely honest to his listeners, and in turn, hoping that when they listen to his music they can relate.
While his popular lead single, “My Girl’s Got A Girlfriend,” might be just slightly extraordinary, the bulk of material on his Konvict Muzik debut album, “X-Rayted,” will be about the love making situations that helped to birth you and I.
During an interview with DJBooth’s DJ “Z,” Ray-L explains why he was doubtful Akon would help his career with a label called Konvict Muzik, what legendary singer was supposed to be given the catchy buzz single, “Donkey Kong,” and how you can avoid being a victim of the spousal ‘checkin my phone’ curse.
Listen to the Interview
Ray Lavender Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an R&B singer from Monroe, Louisiana, who is making music that the everyday man can relate to – that is, if you’re used to walking in on your girl with another woman. Please welcome Ray-L – how you doin’?
Ray-L: Yo, what up, Z? How you doin’, man?
DJ Booth: I’m doin’ great. So, truth be told, your girl had a girlfriend, huh?
Ray-L: Man, she had a girlfriend, I found out, I was mad at first. I’m cool with it now, though. [laughter]
DJ Booth: Are you still with her, or should I say, “them”?
Ray-L: I’m not with them at all anymore. It was something that I tried – I was younger then – and it was something that happened. I tried it, I liked it, can’t live like that, you know? It was just a fantasy of mine that I had, but I got over it.
DJ Booth: In the song, you state, “Havin’ two chicks is better than no chicks.” Very true. But if she doesn’t tell you at first, does that hurt your manhood?
Ray-L: You know what; it does kinda hurt your manhood at first. It’s like, “Okay what was I doin’ that she had to go get another chick?” It poses that question and it kinda hurts you a little bit. But after talkin’ to her I found out that it was nothing that I did; it was just a fantasy of hers that she wanted to live out. She lived it out – I just happened to end up catchin’ her while she was livin’ it.
DJ Booth: Lucky you.
Ray-L: Lucky me. [laughter]
DJ Booth: Ray, let’s pretend like we’re really on the phone to collaborate on a brand new book, and it’s gonna be titled, “Ray-L’s Guide to the Perfect Threesome,” okay?
DJ Booth: If each chapter outlines a tip that you’d like to offer your listeners and fans, what are the names of some of the chapter titles?
Ray-L: Oh, man. The first one would probably be, “Noticing if Your Girl Has a Girlfriend.”
DJ Booth: What are some of the signs?
Ray-L: Hangin’ with somebody that she calls “a friend” a whole lot more than normal. Like, it’s time to go on movie dates with you on the weekends; she would rather hang with this girl instead of you. Or, spendin’ lots of nights over at this friend’s house. Or, her friend was bisexual already, and being around her bisexual friend all the time – chances are, she might be seein’ that girl. You said three of ‘em, right?
DJ Booth: Yeah, three – if you got two more chapters, I’d love to hear ‘em.
Ray-L: Okay. [laughter] “Finding Out” would be the second chapter. You can’t deal with it, ‘cause yo can’t just jump in it. You gotta make her want it a little bit more, ‘cause once I found out – and I didn’t accept it at first – it kinda made her want it a whole lot more; she wanted to experience it with me even more because I wasn’t at first sayin’ “Yes, I wanna do that.” After that chapter, I’d say, “Joining In.” And first I’d like to tell you: when I joined in, it wasn’t comfortable. ‘Cause this was my first time, you gotta know this. I’m payin’ more attention to my girl than to the other girl. I don’t know how she feels about it, but when I see that she’s into it, I start payin’ her some more attention, but I don’t know how my girl feels about it.
DJ Booth: And that’s where you can run into trouble, right, ‘cause if you pay too much attention to the other girl, your girl is gonna be mad at you then.
Ray-L: Right, so I’m havin’ this uneasy feeling. And you gotta make sure your girl is not getting mad, that you’re payin’ the girl some attention. But there was an instance where I was payin’ the other girl more attention and I kinda see the look in her eye ‘cause I been with her like four years, so I know what it looks like.
DJ Booth: Oh, wow.
Ray-L: Yeah, exactly. That look was, “You’re payin’ too much attention to her, I’m gettin’ frustrated, I’m gettin’ mad.” I would suggest you pay more attention to your girl. But have your cake and eat it, too, with the other one, ‘cause your girl did cheat on you.
DJ Booth: I think an easy way around this is very simple: buy a bottle of Patron, three shot glasses, and let ‘er rip.
Ray-L: And let ‘er rip! You know what? I should’ve done that.
DJ Booth: Well, if it comes up again, you know what to do.
Ray-L: I know what to do now, I appreciate it, Z. [laughter]
DJ Booth: No problem. Ray-L, I was first introduced to your work when I was on the phone with Akon, three years ago, during a radio interview. He told me to watch out for a singer named Earl Ray. Since then, you’ve changed your name several times. Are you comfortable now with the identity that you’ve formed as Ray-L?
Ray-L: I’m very much at peace with my name now. At first they had me Earl Ray, then they had me Ray Earl – both of these names, people had in the music world. An R&B guy in Europe named Earl Ray. Me and Akon talked about this – I wanted to make sure the check went to the right place, and not to this guy. For me going platinum, I don’t want him to get this huge check when I’m doin’ all his work! Me and ‘kon sat down and he said, “Well, Ray, you gotta pick a name; the album, we’re gettin’ ready to go.” My whole name was Earl Ray-Lavender. A lot of people called me Ray in school. And Lavender sounds so debonair, man – sounds like an R&B guy. It’s kinda like a tribute to my dad, too; his last name was Lavender. I just went ahead with it and said Ray-Lavender, and it rolls off real good, and it feel good.
DJ Booth: When people hear that your name is Lavender, do they say, “Is that really your last name? You’re kidding, right?”
Ray-L: They always say that. I get that. It’s like, “That can’t be your last name – that’s too singy; that’s too R&B!” That’s my government last name.
DJ Booth: Akon promised to sign you to his label, Konvict Muzik, before he went and served time in jail, correct?
Ray-L: Yes, he did.
DJ Booth: At any point, during his time behind bars, did you doubt if he would be able to come through on his promise to you?
Ray-L: I gotta say yeah, ‘cause I didn’t know how long he was gonna be in there. I was tryin’ to do it myself, so when he got out I can make it easier for him to get back in the music. I knew it was gonna be kinda hard, like just gettin’ out of jail, and just jumpin’ into the game. I started workin’ with Teddy Riley, we were makin’ beautiful music, and it took a while for me and Teddy to start placin’ songs on people. By this time, Akon was gettin’ out. Me and Teddy had been working together for like three years and once he got out, he said, “Well Ray, I’m gonna start up the label Konvict Muzik,” and I got a single called, “Locked Up,” that I think is gonna be a big single for me. And I’m sittin’ there thinking, “Man, ‘Locked Up’ and ‘Konvict Muzik,’ that sounds like a lot of jail.” To tell you the truth, I’m not just gonna let you think that I thought that was a great idea; I didn’t think it was a great idea. That just goes to show you, Akon is a genius and whatever he wanna make work, he can make it work.
DJ Booth: Let’s jump “In The Mix” now. It’s a series of questions that are gonna focus on some of your material that people are already familiar with. First one’s “Donkey Kong.” How did you come up with the idea to use that?
Ray-L: Okay; originally, the track was for Madonna.
DJ Booth: Madonna?
Ray-L: Yeah; she’s probably gonna kill me.
DJ Booth: The Madonna?
Ray-L: Yes, the Madonna.
DJ Booth: Okay.
Ray-L: And we ran a studio in Atlanta named Doppler, and I heard this track playing, and I was like, “Wait, what is that?” And he’s like, “This is for Madonna.” I said, “Play it for me real quick.” He played it, I said, “Okay, Akon, I gotta tell you, you gotta stop giving hits away.” He kept playin’ it, I said, “Okay, I have a hook for this song, Akon – can I have this track?” And he said, “Uh, let me hear your hook first.” I started doin’ the hook for him, and he fell in love with it. He said, “Oh, this is your song.” So me and him went back and forth collaborating on it. I started out with, “I’m tryin’ to find a way to get that fatty up out them jeans/how ‘bout it/‘cause a G like me gon’ try it/oh.” When I did that, Akon came back in and said, “She got that Donkey Kong/Bouncin’ in that blouse!”
DJ Booth: [laughter]
Ray-L: When he said that, I was like, “Okay, we have a hit!” And the rest is history. We had so much fun doin’ this song, that this was supposed to be the first scheduled released single.
DJ Booth: So what happened?
Ray-L: They thought I was done with my album. I never stop recording “Z”; I’m always workin’. I got back in the studio, and thought I should give them some more juicy details about my life, henceforth I put out, “My Girl Gotta Girlfriend.” Akon had never heard this song. I told him about the experience, but he didn’t know that I was gonna put it into song form. So while he was on the Gwen Stefani tour, I went in the studio and I did, “My Girl Gotta Girlfriend.” I was kinda leery about lettin’ him hear it at first ‘cause I didn’t want him to reject it, so what I did was I went and I put it on Myspace. That same day, Z, it got added to eight stations. We had the head of our radio and promotions, at Geffen, callin’ Akon, sayin, “Hey man, wait, what’s goin’ on, we got this record on Ray-Lavender that’s not BDS and it’s on Top 40 and it’s number one on all the stations that it’s on. Why didn’t we get this record?” and Akon called me and said, “there’s a song on Myspace called ‘My Girl Gotta Girlfriend.” “Yeah, I put it on there,” I said, “What do you think?” He said, “It’s incredible!”
DJ Booth: Wow. When I first got sent “Donkey Kong,” without having listened to it yet, my initial though was, “Why is this guy singing about video games?”
DJ Booth: And immediately I thought, “Okay, is there gonna be some kind of craze where we hear is Zelda, or Sonic the Hedgehog,” and when I pressed play I said, “Please, please Ray-L, please tell me that you’re referencing some part of the female anatomy here, and it’s not a video game song.” And you came through. We’re cool on that. Let’s also talk about “Checkin’ My Phone,” and it’s an interesting take on women and their habit to spy on their men. Do you have any suggestions on how men can get around the undercover espionage that is plaguing our society?”
Ray-L: There’s no way to actually get around it, because women have this intuition that we can’t fix – there’s no drugs, no pill on the market that can fix women and their intuitions. But I can tell you: technology has a way that you can lock your phone. When you lock your phone, you need to lock it good, because they will try to figure out your password. Don’t make it your birthday, don’t make it the children’s birthday – make it so far left-field that they will not know exactly how to get through that code. My actual suggestion is, don’t even have a phone in the house. Put it somewhere else, man! Leave it in the car and lock it; put it in the trunk, because women, they come into relationships already with the mindset that you’re gonna cheat. It happened to me, Z. Came in from playin’ basketball one day, sat my phone down, went to take a shower – halfway through my shower, I’m hearin’ my girl screamin’ to the top of her lungs, “Ray, who is Jamila, and why is she calling you ‘baby’?!” I get out with the towel around me, and she’s on the phone with Jamila.
DJ Booth: Haha, How did that conversation go?
Ray-L: Let me tell you – thank God that I wasn’t doin’ anything, that it was innocent this time. Jamila just happened to be an intern at this studio that I was recording at, and she was just callin’ me tellin’ me that the studio was ready at 5, and that’s how Jamila is. She calls everybody “Baby.”
DJ Booth: My suggestion is, if you meet women while you’re dating a woman, rename them in your cell phone index with a man’s name. So, for example, if you’re dating Kim, she’s now Ken in your cell phone. Jamila could be Jim.
Ray-L: J-mils! [laughter]
DJ Booth: Yeah, exactly! Give her a man’s name, and then she’ll never suspect a thing. If anything, if she goes through your text messages, she might think that some of your guy friends are gay, but that’s better than if she thinks you’re cheating!
Ray-L: Right, exactly. So the whole point of this song is – stop going through my phone; if you go through it, you’re going to end up finding what you’re looking for, and if you do find it, are you ready for that?
DJ Booth: And the answer, 99 percent of the time, is “No.”
Ray-L: [laughter] Aint that right, Z.
DJ Booth: Ray, let’s talk about your debut album, “X-Rayted,” which, obviously, is a play on your name and also a hint at what the album is going to entail. With all of the negative publicity that hip hop artists have received for lyrics, song titles and album covers, do you think a title like, “X-Rayted,” could have a negative effect on your opening sales?
Ray-L: It can have a negative effect. It actually can. But in today’s world – it’s like a double-edged sword – sex is what it is. You can’t get around it– at the end of the day, the people that are makin’ the negative comments are probably gonna end up having sex with their companions or their mates, or whoever they’re in love with.
DJ Booth: Yeah, it’s very hypocritical, I agree. Give everybody a website or a Myspace page so they can find out more about this project.
DJ Booth: I wish you nothing but the best of luck on this entire musical endeavor. You’ve got a great story; now that everybody knows a little bit more about it, I think they’re gonna be a lot more inclined to go and pick up a copy of, “X-Rayted” when it drops!
Ray-L: Yes, sir. Z, I thank you for having me, man.
DJ Booth: Hey, my pleasure – the best of luck to you. And if you still have the number for the girl in your video with the green dress, if you wanna pass that along, I would greatly appreciate that.
Ray-L: Oh my God, I love her so much! [laughter] She’s my favorite!