To those who THOUGHT they knew Ray J, think again. Though he has released two albums, starred in sitcoms and films, and is currently gracing TV as a celebrity interviewer for BET, Ray J has only scratched the surface of what makes him tick as a man, entertainer and budding entrepreneur... until now. Once he breaks the world off with his third and finest album to date, Raydiation (a joint venture between his own company, KnockOut Entertainment, and Sanctuary Records - in stores now), prepare to be introduced to the heart that beats beneath the image.
Don't get it twisted. Raydiation is loaded with blazin' hits like the Timbaland-produced "Unbelievable;" the R. Kelly-produced "Quit Actin'" a steamy strip club duet with Mya titled "Sexy" and the Rodney Jerkins joint "Keep Sweatin'" (featuring rapper Fat Joe). However, the essence of the 15-song Raydiation lies in the revelation of Ray J's hardcore street past, the more romantic and introspective spot he's reserved for the ladies, and - most importantly - the fact that his big sister Brandy isn't the only powerful soul-singer in the family. Raydiation unveils a fully developed Ray J that's destined to surprise and satisfy.
"On this album," Ray J explains, "I strayed away from the hip hop edge and stuck with what comes natural for me. I love rap, and hip hop is still a part of what I'm doing, it's just that my singing is more prominent now."
"I love my last album," he continues, referring to 2002's This Ain't a Game, "but the singles I chose AFTER 'Wait a Minute' did not capture what Ray J is really about. People saw me as a rapper instead of a singer who loved to do it all. On Raydiation, I'm letting my R&B game shine."
Ray J proves that out of the box with Raydiation's first single, "One Wish," a dynamic ballad that he co-wrote with Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins and LaShawn Daniels, reflecting a newfound maturity and sensitivity. "I'm blessed to be apart of the history that's in the making of my main man Ray J. I worked with him before and this time I am more impressed with his growth vocally and as an artist," says Rodney Jerkins. "I've worked with the best of the best and Ray is probably one of the best male artists I have ever worked with. One Wish proves that his voice is the real deal and that all the other cats in the game better step up their game the way Ray J has."
While "One Wish" puts the world up on the fact that Ray J is a persuasive writer and singer in the emotive, high tenor style of New Edition's Ralph Tresvant, key selections on the album peel back a more personal layer to show the experiences that tested his fortitude and shaped his unwavering spirit.
"KnockOut producer Noel "Detail" Fisher had the idea of calling the album Raydiation," Ray J shares. "It was perfect because I felt like I had to destroy and rebuild - eliminate all of my negative thoughts to embrace a more positive way of life. I moved from Mississippi when I was 2 and grew up in Centerview (a section of Carson, California a mere three minutes from the place that N.W.A made a household name: the City of Compton). I had a very street mentality. I just wanted to be cool with my friends in the hood. Then I looked in the mirror and realized I could still have that mentality yet elevate - flex my responsibility as a grown man with the power to effect change in the world with all I have and all my family has."
The shockingly autobiographical "CenterView" reveals frankly how Ray J dealt with his feelings of being neglected and left behind as his mother focused on his sister's career. "I was only 12," he confesses, "and I wanted all of my mother's attention. I couldn't get it so I sought comfort and camaraderie in the streets, like so many other young guys in the neighborhood. I had money from doing commercials and being on (the TV show) Sinbad, so I had a little power in the hood. But I can't tell you how many times I got shot at. Having a near death experience brought things into focus for me, and I called my mom and said, 'I need help.'" Hearing all of this emotion packed into one track is so moving that the first time Ray J's mother heard "CenterView", she sat down and cried.
Ray J engages the metaphor of battle to illustrate the universal struggle of walking a righteous path on the song "War is Over," a duet he co-composed and sang with Brandy that houses the opening lyric, "My brothers and sisters, get some courage and some wisdom / As you go on life's mission, hope you make the right decisions." As the album progresses, one realizes he's fortifying himself as much as he is aiming to inspire others.
On the album closing song, "Anytime" - Ray J's most galvanizing and soulful vocal recording to date - he lets his fans living desperate lives know that they will see a brighter day. "Anytime you need a friend, listen to my songs and look at where I've come from compared to where I've been."
--- from the official Ray J website