Ray Lavender
Fresh off AKON’s multi-platinum Konvict Music Label comes the latest edition to their line-up, R&B singer Ray Lavender. Louisiana native Ray Lavender comes through and drops a gem on WHO?MAG talking about how he got with AKON and Konvict Music, why his ‘Girl has a Girlfriend’, why he moved to Atlanta, and why he’s “Rated X”.
By William Hernandez

WHO?MAG: How did you get into singing?
RAY LAVENDER: I’m from Monroe, Louisiana, but I was raised in Atlanta, GA. I got into music as a little boy. I just started singing. For some reason, I just wanted to sing and I was listening to Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. I tried to imitate them and I would sing like them, but I would move my voice kind of different. I was just being curious about the lyrics to people’s songs and loving it how it came out. Music was in my soul and it felt good coming out. My family moved to Atlanta to better ourselves because there was nothing in Monroe, LA. Once we moved over there, we found out Atlanta was the music scene. That’s how my life in the music industry started.

WHO?MAG: Talk to me about your album ‘X Rated’?
RAY LAVENDER: The reason why it’s ‘X Rated’ is because the lyrics are little sexy at times. I take it straight to the business. I’ve always considered myself a ladies man type of crooner. When I listen to the guys I like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Bobby Brown, Babyface, R. Kelly, all these guys were singing to the ladies. They were saying things that were very sexy for the ladies. That made the ladies lose their minds when they said these things just like R Kelly’s ‘Bump and Grind’. That’s what I thought and said I’m going to go against the grain as well. I’m going to push the pen just a little further and I’m going to get a little X Rated. I’m going to see how far as to what I can say and what I can’t say.

WHO?MAG: Who do you have on the album as far as producer and cameo appearances?
RAY LAVENDER: Of course, Akon, Fabolous, and Red Café and Dolla who are with Konvict music as well. There’s not a lot of features on my album. I try and keep it to a minimum because if I put an artist like 50 Cent, you won’t hear me. You’ll keep on hearing the song with 50. I did some with my big brother Akon. He produced a lot of things on it.

WHO?MAG: How did you get your record deal with Akon’s Konvict Music record label?
RAY LAVENDER: I met Akon back in 1997. We met through my manager Andrew Bryant. He took me to the studio to work with this new producer that he met. Low and behold, we knock on the door and it was Akon who answered it.

WHO?MAG: Talk about the single “My Girl got a Girlfriend”?
RAY LAVENDER: My whole CD is my life and my life got a little crazy at times. People were like why don’t you put that on your album. That was kind of embarrassing, a girl with your girlfriend. I walked in on her and I saw what I saw. When I spoke to her to I wanted to know why. I’m thinking was she in love with another girl? It wasn’t like that. She just had a fantasy to be with another girl just that one time. I just happened to walk in on her at that one time. It hurt my feelings because that was my girl for real. It took like 2 weeks for her to talk to after things had calmed down.

WHO?MAG: What are your thoughts on downloading and bootlegging?
RAY LAVENDER: It is what it is. We just got to look at it in a more positive way now because we can’t stop it. It’s a form of promotion, but it is taking away from us. There’s no way to beat that anymore. You have to look at it as a form of promotion. The good thing about bootlegging and downloading, if they like it they’ll download and bootleg it a lot! You can pick your singles that way. That’s how I got “My Girl Got a Girlfriend”. I leaked that song. The bootleggers and downloaders helped me get that song to where it’s supposed to be. They got the song up to 800 spins within 3 weeks when I put it out on myspace. Just the other day I saw the bootleg of ‘American Gangster’ and it looked just like the original but it was a bootleg. So you can’t bet them. As horrible as it is, we just got to find a way around them.