After signing record contracts, some labels enter new artists into the assembly line to create a superstars. As artist move through the system, a battle ensues between adding on the suggested accessories or sticking to your original style. Who wins? The artist who can be true to his self and engage audiences will capture the crown. It took Ray Lavender several years and a few business deals to discover his balance between the music business and his creativity.
The “My Girl Gotta Girlfriend” singer is definitively a party animal, but a true representation of him is “Tequila.” After cutting ties with Akon, Ray Lavender planned a strategic approach by building a sincere relationship with females after accepting a role in the reality TV show “The Ultimate Merger.” Now that he discovered his audience, the R&B crooner plans to deliver on his forthcoming album.
What’s My Name… I was Ray Lavender then, but we were trying to find names for me because the single popped off so fast. We hadn’t had a name yet. I think they named me Ray Black, Ray L, Earl Ray, all types of sh*t man. Then I said [A]kon, ‘why don’t we just use my name?’ He was like “yeah lets do that.” It stuck, and we ran with it.
At one time, I was working with Teddy Riley real big and Teddy named me Ray Earl. I said Teddy you don’t think that is a little too country? He said “nah cause you are country.”
Decision To Play Ultimate Merger… My publicist was like “yo Ray we should do a reality TV show” and I was like nah cause I’m not a fan of reality shows. I’m gonna stick to the music. At the time, I was on a music hiatus cause I was going through some business stuff with the label so I was like nah let me wait it out. I am in the studio let me do what I do. She was like it is a love show and I am like I am definitely not doing that because I don’t need the love. She was like Donald Trump’s involved and everything he is in is real. That raised an eyebrow, if Donald Trump got something to do with it, I might want to get into it and see what is going on. Even then I thought about it for a day and said “nah I’m not doing this.”
Then Donald Trump gave me a call, that’s when things got different. They flew me up to New York and we started talking business, and he said it was a show [where] I would be able to talk about my music and brand Ray Lavender. At the same, time they see the other side or Ray Lavender, cause a lot people was not able to see the video, so they knew the song but did not know who sang the song. I was going to these places and I’m rocking building, and they’re like “who that is.” I opted in.
Sidestepping Pitfalls of the Reality TV After Life… I did it totally the opposite; remember they didn’t even know who I was in the beginning. I released music, and they still didn’t know who I was because they didn’t see the video. Believe me, I thought about all this before I even went in on the TV show. Everything was strategically planned and placed.
Today I am coming through the airport and everybody notices me from the show, they don’t notice me because of the music. Cause remember they didn’t show [my] music video. They don’t know I sing “My Girl Gotta Girlfriend” or I sing “Put It Down” or “Stay.” All they know is they saw me on TV with Omarosa [Manigault-Stallworth] and Donald Trump and Omarosa was not good enough for me. This what all the ladies are saying. “You look way better than her.” They know I can sing cause of the show, now he is coming out with an album, he is good. It helps that I sing, because if I was a rapper, it would probably be a little different. Rappers get a hard time.
We are doing this for all the ladies period. With that being said, I end up winning, the ladies went crazy for Ray Lavender cause of the show. I can’t go anywhere without a lady saying something about that show and wanting to take care of me instead of Omarosa. With that being said, I have to put something out because they want more of me cause I am not doing a reality show anymore.
Joining Cast for Oprah’s Heart TV Show… Nah I’m not doing Oprah, they have to believe this sh*t. (laughter) It has to be something believable. They just thought I was this new guy named Ray Lavender that knew how to sing a little bit. That is how they looked at it. Now that they know who I am, I can’t go back and do a realty show with Oprah and save face with a music career.
Hard Being You… With all due respect to the people I have worked with, I want to be me at the end of the day. Then they hear this voice, and they like he sounds like R. Kelly. You should do it like this, you should go right after him and go in his lane and take all his fans. I don’t want to take his fans; I think they should be R. Kelly fans. Or you should wear your clothes like this, and if you wear them like this then all the people will respect you like Trey Songz. I want a different respect than Trey Songz. I want to be me, and that is what I have been running into a lot. People want to dictate my career. What I came with is if I lose, let me lose cause I lose, I don’t want to lose because of what you dreamed I should be.
The Real Me…. I’m a party guy. I don’t drink, but I know how it makes you feel. I know how it makes other people feel because I’m a partier. I go to parties, I write party records, I am a walking party myself. I can get a club live if there are four people in it. Of course, I’m going to write party music and music that makes people dance.
I write music to make people happy. I write music that people are scared to say, you like “damn he really said that.” Yeah, cause you can. Why not?