Interviews

Razah: I Write My Own Songs

When people mention Razah, the image that comes to mind is one of a “tough guy” rapper. However, this 24 year-old Jamaica born, Brooklyn raised artist has a more polished form of expression. From an early age, it was evident that Razah was gifted with a voice and a pen game. After his mother relocated their family from Jamaica to Brooklyn he began pursuing his dream of being a star. Razah wrote songs and performed different places but it was nothing short of divine intervention that led to him being signed by, then Def Jam President, Jay-Z. With a self-entitled debut album on the way Razah stands ready to show the world why he is who he is and why you’ll love what he does.

Singersroom: What made you want to get into music?

Razah: It’s the only thing I ever thought I was good at. You know when you’re from the hood it’s either that or play basketball or football or something like that. And I can’t play basketball [laughs] so I stuck to what I was good at. Like I never worked another job a day in my life. Ever since I can remember this was all I ever did. So I figured I should just go ahead and do it.

Singersroom: You have Caribbean roots so why didn’t you decide to be a reggae artist?

Razah: It’s kind of like the same thing. I used to be into the reggae. When I first was doing music I was putting little reggae songs out. And I grew up on Bobby Condas and Jabba. So on the album I got songs with that reggae feel. I got a song with Damian Marley, another song called “Fight,” and “Where Do We Go From Here” with Rihanna. All of those have the Caribbean feel and it’s what I love to do. I enjoy making music. It’s not just R&B music or reggae music.

Singersroom: There are guys like Akon and Sean Kingston who use a mix of hip-hop, R&B, and Reggae. What separates you from them?

Razah: The difference between me and dudes like that is I’m actually singing. They’re not really singers. I guess they call them crooners or whatever but I’m actually singing on my songs. Every time I do a radio or TV interview I try to throw in an acappella so people can know that it’s real with me. That’s what’s going to separate me from everybody else. I can really sing and I was really born in Jamaica. I’m really from there and I’m really singing and writing all my records. That’s why I’m classified as R&B/reggae.

Singersroom: You’re one of a handful of artists that were “hand picked” by Jay-Z. What’s led to you meeting him and getting a deal?

Razah: We had the “Where Do We Go From Here” record getting radio play up here. We were getting our little spins on Hot 97 and I guess Rihanna heard the record and wanted to get on it so my homeboy Lenny S. hit me up like “yo, Rihanna wants to do your record. Be at Roc the Mic studio tomorrow at nine o’clock.” So I’m already gassed up. I’m about to go to the studio with Rihanna’s fine ass. You couldn’t tell me nothing. So I go in, we met, then she goes into the booth and start doing what she’s doing then he comes in. I don’t know if that was part of the master plan or whatever to have me in the studio then have Jay come in and meet me. Jay comes in and we just exchanged words like “what’s up homie” and that was it. It was a real quick conversation. Then as we were leaving my manager was like “Jay wants to sign you.” I was like word? Like come on. How many people has he probably said that to? But the next day, like eight o’clock in the morning my lawyer calls me like “Jay just sent over the contract.” What’s crazy is he didn’t tell me to sing for him, he didn’t tell me to play a record, he didn’t tell me nothing. When we sat down and we spoke he told me he like my vibe. He said I had a good vibe and a good look. I’m marketable; I ain’t no ugly dude. But he really just liked my vibe.

Singersroom: That must have been a damn good conversation. Can you remember what you guys talked about?

Razah: I was sitting at the board because Rihanna was in the booth and since I wrote the song I had to help her with the words and the notes. It was so quick. I didn’t get to really kick it with Jay until like a week later. He called me and told me to come to the office and that’s when we really sat down and kicked it.

Jamaican R&B Singer Razah Singersroom: A lot of people are unhappy with how some artists have been treated at Def Jam. How do you feel you’ve been treated?

Razah: You can’t please everybody. To be real, I’m not 100 percent pleased with things either. But I know that I’m a new artist so I don’t complain about much. I could be in Brooklyn getting in trouble, robbing people and getting arrested and all that. I’m happy to be in this position so I’m not going to be like they’re not doing this or that fast enough. I’m here for the ride because I know that whatever god has planned for me can’t nobody stop it. So I’m here for the ride.

Singersroom: As a new artist it’s important to have something that draws people to you. What is it about you that you feel people will gravitate towards?

Razah: I think people will gravitate to the realness. A lot of new R&B artists aren’t writing their own records. And it’s funny because they’ll be talking junk about bringing R&B back but they’re not writing records. When you hear one of my records you can feel that it’s something I went through or something I seen. It’s not like somebody just passed me some words like “here, sing this song.” There’s 12 songs on my album and I sat there and wrote all 12. That’s one thing L.A. Reid wanted me to mention in every interview is that I write all my own songs. But I think people will gravitate to the realness. They’re going to be like this kid is the truth because all those songs feel real like they’re his songs.

Singersroom: With all the gimmicks and personas artists invent to get and keep the public’s attention, are you scarred of being lost in the shuffle?

Razah: I’m just being me. That’s what Jay told me. That first day we sat down in that office he told me to always be myself. He was like “youngin, you got to be yourself. Don’t get caught up in the hype or what the other artists are doing. Just be you, just be Razah.” So that’s what I’m doing. I’m just being me. You’re not going to hear me talking about a bunch of stuff I never did or see me running around all super tough like I’m a gangster because I’m not that either. I’m just about good music.

Singersroom: When can fans expect the album?

Razah: Right now the release is slated for April but you know how things go with release dates.

Singersroom: The most important thing for an artist to have is longevity. How do you want to be known 10 or 20 years from now?

Razah: I’m hoping to be one of those timeless artists. Like 20 years from now when you hear “Rain” or “Where Do We Go From Here” or any song off my album you be like “oh, I remember that.” I’m not trying to be here today and gone tomorrow. I’m in it for the long run. Like I told these dudes if the album comes out in April I’m trying to be ready to put my second album out in like November. I’m trying to really be around. I can do two albums in one year because I don’t have to sit around waiting for writers. I can just go in. I finished my first album in two weeks. When I sat down and kicked it with Jay he said “I’m not trying to have you be just some R&B dude. I’m trying to have you be a big universal star. You’re a Caribbean dude you got that Caribbean feel. Go in and do a bunch of big records.” So that’s what I did in two weeks. Went back and played it for him and he loved it.

Singersroom: You’re from Brownsville, Brooklyn. What’s it like for you when you go back to your old neighborhood?

Razah: It’s cool. I’m just a regular dude man. I don’t let everything go to my head. I’m real humble. I say what’s up to people and all that. I take the pictures, I kiss the babies, all that. I ‘m a real cool dude because I know that all this could be gone tomorrow so I try to treat everybody like how I want to be treated. The kids run up to me and all that because they like what I’m doing and they’re proud of me. I’m from the hood, Brownsville. If you don’t know about Brownsville it’s crazy over there. But they’re proud of me out there. And that’s why I’m just trying to stay humble, work hard and do everything I can to get the name out there and keep the hits coming. —— By: Interview By Haaron Hines

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