Die-hard fans of B2K know there's more to 18-year-old Demario "Raz-B" Thornton than just singing and dancing. Under the wing of estranged manager Chris Stokes, the former B2K singer was developing his business sensibilities by helping put together the group's tours.
Now, as rumors continue to fly regarding B2K's future (see "B2K Plan Summer Tour, Still Hope To Reconcile With Omarion"), Raz is ready to share even more facets of his talent and his past. He's putting together a compilation that he hopes will bring families together, he's going to record a gospel album that he hopes will convey more positive messages, and — most startlingly — Raz plans to write an autobiography in which he'll reveal that he not only sold drugs but used them as well.
"Raz-B is a human being and I've tried weed before," the singer said Monday from Las Vegas. He said he's not advocating drug use and hopes that his book will set a positive example. "Sincerely, [this is] from a cat that's been in group homes, foster homes, sold drugs, did drugs. This is a message from him to the world." Although Raz's book is quite a long way from completion, he has a few ventures that are ready to pop off now.
One is his label. Raz is working with the entertainment and sports company CMX, and he says his partners have helped him ink a distribution deal with EMI for his Raz Beatz Entertainment label. Bizzy Bone's contract with the label is just about finalized, and another LP that Raz is hoping to release soon is a compilation titled Raz Beatz Presents Heal the World 2004.
"It's a family album," he said. "No gangsta/killing type of records. You can enjoy good music with the family, it don't have to be all this cussing. We're telling everybody, 'It's time to heal the world.' We all, collectively, can make a change. This album reflects everything: It's a lot of positive-driven stuff, but it's gonna have some bangers [too]." Raz would like some of the proceeds from the album to go to charity; the album is due May 18 but may be pushed back.
So far, Raz says 3LW and 3rd Storee have officially signed on to contribute tracks to the compilation, but he's also talking with Solange Knowles, Nick Cannon, Amerie, Mario, Ray J and, of course, other members of B2K. One cut he wants to put on the album is a remix of B2K's "Boys 4 Life," on which Raz will be alone, talking about his group's breakup and possible makeup.
"Everybody is doing their own individual thing. My goal is to bring the group back together," Raz wished aloud about the platinum foursome. "B2K really came out and changed the game. I think we'll get back together."
Raz said all four members have been meeting but no resolution to their split has been set forth.
Although B2K's future is uncertain, Raz has come to find spiritual serenity, which will presumably be reflected in songs on his planned gospel album. He's hoping to enlist R. Kelly and Kirk Franklin to work with him, but he doesn't want his fans to feel that they cannot enjoy his inspirational offering as much as they've loved his B2K records.
"I'm going to take my time on that one," he said. "I'm going to be focusing on negative and positive notes. I need it to be bangin'. It's going to be real, real different [from traditional gospel]. You gonna be like, 'Damn, that sounds like "Bump, Bump, Bump." ' Everything I'm doing, I'm following God. God has really blessed me. I've always been spiritual, I've always had a calling all my life."
One of those callings, he said, is to make sure that every needy church in the U.S. has a building fund. With all his new business ventures, Raz may be able to build a few new churches if everything goes according to plan. In addition to his autobiography and record label, Raz said he also wants to put out a children's book, and he's working with a merchandising company to sell T-shirts and dolls with celebrity likenesses in China.