Artist: Ray J
Independent Album: All I Feel
411: "VIP'ing and Hennessy'ing." Ray J is the life of the party right now. Following his widely circulated sex tape with Kim Kardashian, adult-entertainment executives have offered him millions of dollars to manufacture accessories based around his manhood, and there's also a DVD called the "Ray J Chronicles" in which he goes around having sex with female celebrities. He claims the offers he's been receiving have totaled over $13 million.
"I turned them all down," Ray told us last week.
The singer/actor feels he has more mainstream life left in his career, but still, he is sitting on a little somethin' from the infamous Kardashian tape. The money turned his cloudy day sunny.
"When the tape came out, it was ugly for a month or two, when the legal situation happened," he said. "I was embarrassed. Then it became all good. We started making a lot of money, and the pain went away. The pain just disappeared."
Ray had great success with the independent release of 2005's Raydiation. It spawned the big ballad "One Wish" and the midtempo track and the mid-tempo track "What I Need." He's now brought his Knockout Entertainment over to Koch Records and is working in conjunction with Shaquille O'Neal's Deja 34 to release his album All I Feel. Ray hooked up with Shaq through a mutual friend.
"He called Shaq, Shaq called me," Ray explained. "DJ Kay Slay has really been the dude that has kept the project together. ... Sometimes you get around, you havin' a lot of fun, you might sway away. But Slay's really been holding the project together. Him being so strong in hip-hop, it's big, me being an R&B artist and him supporting it. So I think he's waking a lot of people up as far as the streets is concerned and DJs to see what Ray J is all about."
Ray's album comes out April 1, but in the meantime, he has a mixtape called Uncut that's out now.
"We did three covers. One of my homies did a cover of me and this girl I know," he said of the illustrated All I Feel artwork, describing the sexually provocative pose in which he and a woman are depicted. "I got a hundred lawsuits from that. Then I did another cover with Slay that was more mainstream. I didn't want to put the controversial stuff on the album. I wanted to put out stuff that people could relate to and look at themselves just like me. All the controversial sh-- is on the mixtape."
Joints To Check For:
» "Sexy Can I." "We ran into some police problems with the homie Yung Berg on the set," Ray said about the video shoot for his first single. "I had to call Shaq and [get him to] pull a little Miami favor for us, 'cause we shot the video in Miami. It took Berg a couple of hours to get out, but when we got the rest of the job done, [there were a] lot of women, partying, sexy people around. We wanted to showcase that. We missed Berg for a couple of hours, but it was fun."
» "Real N---a" (featuring Styles P). "I been listening to Styles since 'Hol-aaah-dayyy,' " Ray J said. " I was listening to the LOX since they was with Diddy. When he did the deal with Koch, they told me, 'He might want to do a song with you.' Then I wanted him to come do a song on my album called 'Real N---a.' For me to work with somebody I grew up listening to was real big. 'Real N---a,' from my side, it's the pimpin' side of being a real n---a. From his side, it's more of the street side: handguns, being in the streets, selling drugs. I think it's a good match."
» "Where You At." "It's with me, the Game and Lil Wayne," the singer said. "It's gangbang-orientated. I'm from the West, Game's from the West, Wayne is from the N.O. Where we all grew up, it goes the same way. I said, 'I'mma do R&B songs and twist it up with a couple of homies who know what it's about. I'm in a cherry-red shirt and my Anaheim fitted [hat], throwin' up the uh, "Baby can you get with it?" ' "
Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
» DJ Scoob Doo - Street Religion 2
» DJ Delz - Reservoir Dogs (Starring the "Roc Boys")
» Red Cafe and DJ Noodles - Paper Touchin
» Suge White, Cassidy, Jadakiss, Da Real Verble Kent - Triple Threat 2
'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
» Glasses Malone (featuring Akon) - "Certified"
» Snoop Dogg (featuring Too Short and Mistah F.A.B.) - "Life of the Party"
» Sean Paul (featuring Busy Signal and Busta Rhymes) - "Gun Dem Bark" remix
» Q-Tip - "Fever"
» Charlie Wilson (featuring T-Pain and Trazz) - "Supa Sexy" remix
Fire Starter: Sean Garrett:
OK. You probably already know who Garrett, a.k.a. "The Pen," is. You should: He's written and co-produced some of the biggest records of the past five years, such as "Buttons" (Pussycat Dolls), "Run It!" and "Gimme That" (Chris Brown), and "Yeah!" (Usher). His résumé is sick. Sean, however, is making the transition back to being an artist. (He signed his first record deal at 15 years old, but nothing came of it.)
Sean's debut, Turbo 919, is slated for release toward the end of spring or beginning of summer and will have guests such as Lil Wayne, Akon and Ludacris. ('Cris appears on the first single, "Grippin' on the Bed." They're talking to the ladies.) We heard some of the LP last week, and we can definitely tell you Garrett is bringing back the feeling. Think old Michael Jackson mixed with New Edition in the year 2010.
Hulk Hogan — WWE Hall of Famer, reality-show star and now host of the new "American Gladiators" — came by MTV News' New York offices last week, and boy did we start cooking up some fun scenarios of who the Hulkster would like to see battle in a hypothetical "AG" celebrity episode. 50 Cent vs. Kanye West or Game came up, and Beyoncé vs. Mariah Carey (in high heels) was another dream match.
In the wrestling world, though, Hogan still has the passion for the ring. He says he called out "Stone Cold" Steve Austin a long time ago for a match, but the Texas Rattlesnake never hollered back. ("That's on him. Apparently he don't want none. I'm easy to find, my brother," Hulk said.) So now Hogan has another challenger in mind, somebody he's made bleed in the circle before: "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. As it happens, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon recently sent down the mandate that the next match Flair loses will be his last — he will be forced to retire. Hulk says he's the man to derail Space Mountain and wants to do it at WrestleMania 23 in Orlando, Florida.
"They need a main event real bad," Hogan said. "When I think about Ric Flair styling and profiling, when I think about Hulk Hogan going [head to head] with Ric Flair in my backyard, Florida ... I think that's where it's at. They got a lot of tickets, brother, that need to be sold. The power of the 'Mania, brother? Could be strong. Either he'll put me out for good, or I'll put him out for good. One or the other. That would be the match of the new millennium. Hogan vs. Flair. Maybe get Vince McMahon as a special guest referee. Me and Flair both hate Vince."
The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From The Underground
T.I. is getting ready for a tour. But don't expect to see him on it. Due to a court mandate, he still isn't physically able to travel, but he is putting up funds so some comedians from his hometown can spread their talent across the country.
"We're doing a comedy tour," T.I. told us last week on the phone from his home in the ATL. "I have to give the credit to [Grand Hustle VP] Clay [Evans] and [my manager/ business partner] Jason Jeter on that. We've always had huge connections in the comedy world. We manage Lil Duval. He's hilarious. Then we did the 'Trippin on Tuesdays' in Atlanta. That's the big comedy-club night.
"We've decide to take it on tour with all the comedians out of Atlanta," he continued. "It hasn't really been an outlet for them since [BET's] 'Comic View' left Atlanta. I think it's gonna be a great outcome."
Tip's been working on his next album, Paper Trail, and last week he revealed to us a song title: "Let My Beat Pound."
"T.I.'s great, man," Warner Music Group President Kevin Liles told us in L.A. during Grammy weekend. "His spirits are in the right place. I visited him last week. Keep praying for him. Allow him to do what he needs to do right now. Never believe what you see or what you hear. It's always another side to the story."
There's another side to the story — and there's also another side to Tip's artistic progression. The King of the South said "Let My Beat Pound" is unlike anything you've heard from him in the past, and that we should continue to expect him to advance musically as well as in other aspects of entertainment.
"I think at some point you have to find ways to evolve and mature as an artist," he explained. "Once you've evolved and matured as a man, at some point you're gonna mature outside of music. Which is why it is important to have things under your belt, like an acting career, like the fashion industry, like a StreetCred.com. All of that will reflect in your music. If you're in another industry where you have to pay attention to other artists and you have to pay attention to other things that are becoming successful, other trends, then you'd be a fool as a businessman to not apply that to yourself to take advantage. We keep the sharp knives here at Grand Hustle. We keep the sharp knives." ...
DJ Clue had the Internet going insane recently when he leaked "Ain't I," a Jay-Z record from his Desert Storm Radio 8 (I Am Legend) mixtape. Clue had previously indicated that it would be officially coming out on The Blueprint 3. But Jay-Z sent word through his rep that the song is old and that Hov hasn't announced any new album ... yet.
"That was the word on the street," Clue said about Blueprint 3 coming out. "I got the call [from Jay], but it's all good. It's all love. He was like, 'Yo, you can't be telling people the behind-the-scenes stuff.' So I chilled, laid back. [The mixtape] is still out on the streets. Go get it."
Clue has a slew of projects coming out this year via his imprint Desert Storm.
"New [Fabolous] album coming soon," he said. "Look for Ransom. I got a couple of R&B acts coming too. So look out for '08." ...
While Busta Rhymes took a longer break than usual between 2002's It Ain't Safe No More and 2006's The Big Bang, the dungeon dragon is making sure to kick off this year in high gear with a number of projects. He's knee-deep in his next album, Back on My Bullsh--, and so far he's hooked up with Dr. Dre, Green Lantern, Cool & Dre, Danjahandz, Nottz and Timbaland. Bus-a-Bus also recorded with Pharrell, who actually helped him come up with the title.
"I'm calling it Back On My Bullsh-- for two reasons," Busta explained. "I said it on [a new song,] and it stuck in Pharrell's head. And because this album, in particular, feels like vintage Busta Rhymes, in a 2008 way. It was original and appropriately the right thing to call the project. No deep brain-science ... nothing like that."
In the meantime, Bus is getting ready to flood the streets with a few mixtapes. First up will be King of the Remixes with DJ White Owl, followed by 48 Laws of Power with Mark Exclusive.
"It's the greatest street exclusives and greatest hits and unreleased exclusives, which is me going in, back to back," Busta said.
Then the Flipmode General plans to team up with Superstar Jay for I've Already Outshined Your Favorite Rapper, before he connects with Mick Boogie for Dillagence 2, the sequel to their mixtape tribute to the late J Dilla.
"It's gonna be crazy," Bus said.
For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.