Ray Lavender: AKON Protégé And “KONVICTED”
Akon is a shrewd businessman who has been busy putting together a talented team Who in the world is Ray Lavender and what does AKON have to do with him? Well, let’s just say that if you have not heard about this brotha outta Louisiana, you better ask somebody!! Mr. Lavender is not only being tagged as AKON’s Protégé, he is now the face of KONVICT (AKON’s label) Clothing. As if that were not enough, he informed me that he is preparing to go on tour with Michael Jackson – yes folks, the “gloved one” has caught Lavender Fever. So what makes this young star so hot? Perhaps it is his soulful sounds coupled with raw sexual lyrics and appeal. Ray says that “Sam Cooke and R. Kelly are two big inspirations.” By listening to cuts from his upcoming album, “My Girl Got A Girlfriend,” “Put It Down,” “Checkin’ My Phone,” “Work It (Doing, Doing),” “Donkey Kong” and of course “Stay” – we can certainly see how these two artists have influenced him. Talking to Ray a few days ago, I had a chance to learn a little bit more about this “hot new property.” So, join in and check out our conversation, which went a little something like this: Jamati: You’ve definitely got some hot joints going on there. I describe it as an album for fantasy sex. You’ve got a little something for the men with “Girl Gotta Girlfriend” and then you’re checking for the women with songs like “Stay.” Ray Lavender: (laughing) thank you. I try, I try. I’ll take that description – I appreciate it. Jamati: So, tell me how you went from head model with KONVICT to recording star. Ray Lavender: Well, it was actually the opposite. I was doing the music and “KON” mentioned to me that I should try to branch out and do some modeling- this was before his clothing line. I was like yeah, ‘cause I’m thinking that modeling is for girls – you know. But I’m doing this thing and people like seeing my face – they actually think I look good (laughing). I don’t know what’s going on, but I did it, they like it and I love it. Jamati: Tell me about your motivations and how you got into this whole game. Ray Lavender: It was mainly my Mom and Dad. They stuck by me and always told me that I should do what I wanted to do. Growing up, R& B was all around me. I even remember the vinyls, they were everywhere - we even had 8 tracks. Sam Cooke, Al Greene, Commodores - all the timeless hits, that’s where I get my truly authentic R&B sultry sounds from. When I was coming up, I listened to New Edition, Troop, Ready for The World, Guy, Blackstreet but my Dad wanted to make sure I listened to the classics. But when R. Kelly came out, this man moved my soul; and it takes a real man to say that another man moves his soul – but that dude, he did it. I’d listen to him and say, Are you serious you can say bump and grind on the radio? He went against the grain…and when my Dad heard him he was like, this the dude you need to listen to. He’d say he reminded him of Sam Cooke. I studied him so much that people used to think I was R. Kelly. When I’d sing his songs, people would think I was R. Kelly. I felt like if he could do it and be that great, I could do it too. Jamati: You’re being described as AKON’s protégé, and recently there was some controversy over whether AKON went to jail or not. What are your thoughts on this, does jail time really make you a man? Ray Lavender: The whole jail thing, I don’t do - I’m not built for jail (laughing). I’ve been to jail before, but I don’t have no big rap sheet or nothing. The biggest thing I have is the fact that I did not change my insurance over on my car. But I think when they describe me as his protégé, they’re putting two and two together and looking at my music/style. People are looking and saying, this guy can sing, he can move the crowd, and is working with AKON and T-Pain . It’s like they’re sayin that I’m the next big thing - And they are not wrong!. Jamati: So talk to me about the new song “Stay.” What is that about? Is it relational and based on experience? Ray Lavender: “Stay,” well, you know how guys are? They gotta girl already and then another beautiful girl come at them and they want to… Jamati: Try out the buffet service? Ray Lavender: (laughing), You’re absolutely right! Great way to put it. We want to try out the buffet service. So, with “Stay” I took the option of eating at the buffet. And what happens is my girl finds out and wants to know why I would do that when I have all of this good stuff at home- so my girl says, I’m cooking, cleaning and doing everything you need me to do and she decides to leave. I tell her fine go on and I’ll just get another girl. When I get the other girl, she does NOTHING like my baby used to do. Men tend to realize what they’ve lost at the latter part of the relationship. So we are out and I see my first girl with her new boyfriend sitting on his lap (the way we used to do) and I really start to miss her and realize what I have done - Tank and I got together on this song. Jamati: It is definitely a good apology song. Ray Lavender: Yeah you know, I sang it at a wedding recently and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Jamati: So tell me about working with T-Pain. Ray Lavender: You know what, T-Pain needs to be in movies. He is so funny…people don’t believe me when I say he could be like the next Chris Tucker. He is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. He thinks outside the box and collaborating with a guy like that, you will always stay in the club or on the radio. But you remember I said it here first..that T-Pain will be a movie star. Jamati: Tell me something about Ray Lavender that the world doesn’t know- that you can afford to share. Ray Lavender: Well, I used to be a Pizza delivery driver and I loved it. It was great for me- I would do it again if I had to. I loved driving and I would listen to a lot of music while I was driving. It got me away from the building and I got to meet a lot of people. A lot of the girls would request me to come deliver their pizza. Jamati: So what was your sexiest delivery? Ray Lavender: (laughing) Every house is a different episode you know. Now, this ONE woman, she called in all sexy requesting me and I was like yeah….it’s about to pop off. She needed a meat lovers, and I was like I’ll be right over – let’s just say when I got there, her voice did not match what was at the door and she had her shirt off. She wanted me to come in and put the pizza on the table and I was like nah, we can’t come it people’s house. Jamati: So what can we look for from you before the album comes out? Ray Lavender: Well, The KONVICT Clothing line coming out. It is going to be in Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Richies and all the major stores. So every time you see the clothing line, you’ll see my face. Got some movies coming out- AKON’s got a movie called “Cocaine Cowboys”. – oh and we have a big Tour coming up with AKON & Michael Jackson. How big is that? Jamati: WOW…that is huge!! Ray Lavender: Yeah, I call AKON everyday and ask him if he is for real. But you know he did 6 or 7 new songs on Michael Jackson’s new album, so it’s very realistic. Jamati: So, some words of encouragement for the people before we leave? Ray Lavender: This is what I live by. No matter how bad things get, no matter how hard things get, no matter who leaves you or dies – you still got hope and you can still achieve what you want. Never give up, because if you do, you not only lose but you lose people that believed in you – Always, believe in you and what you do and you will WIN!
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