Ray Cash: Who's Bumpin My Music?
According to Sony Universal recording artist Ray Cash born (Wardell Raymond Cheeks), thats just the tip of the iceberg. According to him, Cleveland is all about swagger. After this interview, I for one, believe him. I guess youve got to have a swagger with a name like Wardell
R.C.: I just wanted to be called what people called me in the streets, in school, all my life. They call me Ray. You know, like state your name and your purpose. My name is Ray, and my purpose is the money. Like we all love this shit, but dont let people spin you wrong. They doing it for the money too. People say its kinda fucked up when I say I do it for the money but if niggas wasnt getting checks for this shit, you know, you wouldnt take it as seriously as you do. People see the hunger, the swagger, and recognize a real nigga when they see one. People like Ray Cash for who he is, which is Ray, without the cash. Like, people fuck with me for the reasons I want to be fucked with. Dont fuck with me cause I gotta video out. That dont mean you know me. Just cause we smoked a blunt dont mean we cool.
C.O.D.: Cash On Delivery, is his debut, propelled by the likes of Rockwilder, Rick Rock and Knoxxxx.
R.C.: I tried to put my all into it, and I tried to put the Cleveland swagger all the way out there to show them the Midwest thing that we can actually write rhymes, (to show) a real MC: a nigga that can really get it in.
Nowadays, most cities have somebody that they can point to as a pioneer, the person or group that put them on the map, so to speak. For Cleveland, that somebody is undoubtedly Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. By most accounts, hip hop is in its mid-late twentys. Ray Cash is 25. Its crazy to think of Bone as back in the day, but their influence on a new generation of artists is unmistakable.
R.C.: Aww man, 94 I was like 13, 14 years old when they came out. It had the city in a frenzy to see them (Bone Thugs-N-Harmony) fuck with the heavyweights. When we heard Bone and B.I.G, it was a wrap. Then when we heard Bone and Pac, they was really progressing; winning Grammys and shit like that. To see that shit was just the way of telling us that shit was possible. Somebody from our little run down city (as they call it) could actually make it up outta here on some real shit. Cleveland is real man, we do the same shit everybody else do. Youd be surprised. I go outta town and a lot of niggas got mad respect for Cleveland. Because they heard that niggas get it in. Its a real laid back city: you dont fuck with me- I dont fuck with you. Its cool, I love it. I dont wanna live nowhere else but here.
*Note to sports fans: I did ask him about Lebron James.
HHDX: Are you a Cavs fan?
R.C.: Of course.
HHDX: Is LeBron the next MJ?
R.C. : Umm I dont know, thats a heavy comparison. Lebron is my man. Hes a good dude, I mean, hes a beast. I think he can be. It aint been nobody with that much hype thats lived up to it like that. To have that much pressure, and you dont even see it. That kinda shows that up-top swagger. He just might be the next. Ill put my money on him any day.
For a debut, Mr. Cash certainly does not hold back. Not only does he recruit rap heavyweights (Bun B, Scarface, Pastor Troy, Beanie Siegel) but he spits the swagger of a veteran while maintaining the humility of a rookie.
R.C. : It was an honor working with those guys. Certain people like that only fuck with people they believe in and respect. For niggas to really take a liking to me and show me respect really showed me that Im making an impact, just by being myself. I dont gotta have a crazy rap story to make these niggas know Im a real nigga. So it was cool to be in the mix, see how they maneuver, because first of all Im new to this. So I see how they carry themselves and how they make they music; to kinda rub off on me and make my process a whole lot easier. Like Bun I had to record in Atlanta, but I had the flu. So Im in the studio. I look up and I see Bun coming down the stairs and Im like get the fuck outta here. So we talked, smoked, and he was just telling me shit about the game. He heard that "Sex Appeal" joint I put out last year. And he said that he heard me say if Im rich and you broke, you must be trying to get some from me, free Pimp C. And when I put it in the song, me and my man was just fucking around. We never thought it would go that far. I never thought wed shoot a video for it. And when he heard it he was like I gotta watch you. To get with Pimp, Face, Devin, Bone, Beans and Freeway. These niggas I really fuck with, niggas I really look up to. We all get a long and are able to make music. Thats good shit right there.
Good music indeed. C.O.D. is already getting rave reviews, most notably for Rays clear departure from the formula that has become commonplace in commercial hip hop. Again, Ray points to the swagger. "Sex Appeal (Pimp In My Own Mind)" is clever
R.C. : Its the swagger man. You might have woke up like damn, Im dumb fresh today. Like its about how you carry yourself. Do it on your level. It aint got nothing to do with a cup and a prostitute. Its about doing you, being comfortable with yourself. Shining on your own.
Then theres the controversial Fuck Amerikkka
R.C. : (Laughing) Everybody wanna say it, but they cant cause they scared theyll lose they jobs. They wanna feed they people. You really wanna go to work and be like yo fuck you. And I been there. I done worked a couple of spots and thats why Im doing this, cause I couldnt take that shit. If you not really doing something you love than its not reallyIm just blessed enough to be in a situation where I do something that I like to do. So like Fuck Amerikkka is just my way of speaking for niggas who cant speak for themselves. Niggas that are locked up, that know what they did; but some niggas dont have options. For niggas that dont have an option thats fucked up. I wanted to speak for them. For a nigga that dont have a job I wanted to speak for him. I aint trying to ruffle nobodys feathers, Im just telling the truth. Thats how we feel.
How real is that? I mean, political commentary aside, I woke up the other day and found out that President Bush had boarded Air-Force 1 for a surprise trip to Iraq. I remember thinking: boy oh boy, I wish that he could a few surprise trips to the hood.
R.C. : I aint no political dude. I dont get into it like that. I just talk what I see. I dont get into it like that, butBush is a sneaky ma-fucker man! (laughs). I would never trust that nigga man. Never. Its crazy that people dont see that. Its nothing that you can do about it, and I think thats fucked up. The people aint happy, but it aint about the people. Itll be alright. Ill vote for Hillary next time.
Ironically, it was another president that played a key role in Rays rap career. Ray Scrilla lists many hip hop god-fathers as influences on his music (Scarface, UGK, Jay-Z, N.W.A, Eightball and MJG) with none bigger than President Carter himself.
The Hard-Knock Life tour came through Cleveland in 99. That was like crazy, to see dude come out and he wasnt with 30 muthafuckers- it was just him. And he came out, he didnt just come with "Jigga What Jigga Who". He came with "lotta speculation about the money Ive made, the honeys Ive slayed" You know? Not that shit that we heard all day on the radio, but the shit that that I was really in love with. To see a nigga be himself and see him control all those people like that. And be accepted for being himself with no gimmick or nothing, just a fresh nigga with a chain on. That kinda made me be like yo if I can do this shit and be me at the same time, and not have some bullshit gimmick behind it, I would do it.