By Mr. Joe Walker
As a recording artist, Ray J has been away from the public for almost two years, but he is ready to return to the spotlight with “RAYDIATION”, his soon-to-be-released third album. The album is Ray J’s first release under his own label, Knock Out Entertainment. So at this point in his career, being cuffed by the fashion police is the least of his worries. The R&B singer who was once called “so cute” by legions of female fans, is now referred to as “fine” by these same followers. The well-dressed boy has long since retired. Ray J the sharp-dressed man has arrived.
“I’ve elevated,” Ray J said regarding the change of his appearance. “I’ve got a whole new outlook on life now. I grew up, and I’ve just experienced things as a man and as an artist.”
Never one to look drab or raggedy, Ray J has always possessed an acute sense of style and quality when it comes to fashion and his appearance. Progressing from a boy to a man has changed his tastes, not his appetite.
“I’m still wearing jeans and things like that, but I’ve gotten more into fitted shirts … more of an adult look,” said Ray J. “I like putting on suits, and then I like being into the hip-hop look. I like being different, so I might feel like this today and feel like something else the next.”
His maturity has taken him to different avenues, mixing urban attitude with the clean-cut gentleman that is often described as a pop/crossover look.
“I’m still in tune with the streets. I still like white tees and baggy jeans, but I like having that manly look and sex appeal at the same time.”
Ray J said his new album would capitalize on his growth as well as his style, showcasing his knowledge about fashion, love, sex, the problems of the world, and just being a man. Featuring production from Rodney Jerkins and Timberland, and guest appearances from Fat Joe, Mya, and his sister, Brandy, Ray J worked on “RAYDIATION” for a year-and-a-half.
“My album is about love, paradise, women, sex, clubs, up and downs, responsibility as a man, and all of that in one. I’ve just been building from an entrepreneur status and an artist status, and just learning along the way,” he said.
During Ray J’s journey the R&B market underwent considerable changes. The genre once thrived on ballads and lyrics, but is now fueled by club bangers – which Ray J said he is fully prepared for. He is also prepared for the eventual comparisons to the genre’s current chart topper, Usher.
“I don’t want to avoid them because he is the top dog,” Ray said of being compared to Usher. “I don’t want to be compared to Omarian, I don’t want to be compared to Mario … none of them cats! I want to be compared to Usher or one of the legends. Usher has taught me a lot as his success grew, and he definitely opened the door for other R&B cats like me to get out there and be successful.”
And his quest for success won’t stop with “RAYDIATION” in 2005. Ray J is developing a talk show along with a working on a project with his sister that is destined to make some noise in the year to come.
“We working on an album right now. It’s called ‘The R&B Album – Ray J & Brandy.’ We’re not going to put it out until ’06, but it’s serious though! It’s a combination of oldies and new songs as well. We’re doing a lot of remakes and a couple of new songs. It’s going to be real sweet,” Ray J said.