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Ray J: Technical Knockout

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Ray J has evolved into a mainstay in the world of entertainment. Gone are the days of being crowned “Brandy’s little brother,” as the actor/musician has escaped that shadow believed to be a stigma in the early days of his career. With three albums under his belt and a new label Knock-Out Entertainment, Ray J is growing more and more comfortable with his new title of businessman. Of course, what young artistic mogul is without the weathering of the media storm? Especially when rumors of a porn career and love affair with Whitney Houston loom overhead. Throw in some contrived drama at a Jay-Z and Beyonce party for good measure, and you’ve now entered the life of Ray J Norwood.In speaking with us about the many facets of his career, Ray J took the time to dispel the multiple rumors attached to his name. He elaborates on the mathematics of his music career and his transition from major label to independent. With a solid fanbase and a fistful of opportunities, Ray J is on mission for a T.K.O. AllHipHop.com Alternatives: What would you like to talk about today?Ray J: I just want to clear up a couple of things. First off, the Jay-Z and Beyonce party that I attended. I had a great time at that party; everybody had a great time. We had a chance to see Jay-Z and Beyonce and a lot of NBA stars. We didn’t have any private sections, and nobody wasn’t kissing nobody. I have a lot of respect for Jay-Z and Beyonce and a lot of other heavyweights that were there. We all had a good time and I just wanted to clear that up.AHHA: You’re speaking of you and Whitney?Ray J: Yeah, me and Whitney. We attended that party with Lebron James. Beyonce came up and showed us love, and Jay-Z did as well, and I got a lot of respect for them.AHHA: What was the situation portrayed as?Ray J: They tried to get to Whitney and myself –  as us in a private V.I.P. section – and I wanted to clear that up. I am a humble person and Jay-Z – he’s one of my favorite rappers – and I love Beyonce. I don’t really want that kind of bad blood to be out there like that.AHHA: Why do you think that twist was put to the story?Ray J: I think it’s that Whitney was at the party with me, and a lot of eyes were on us.AHHA: How is it having all those eyes on you?Ray J: We just go to have a good time. The plan is to go and have a good time. We’re a part of the world; nothing more than that.AHHA: Does the attention take away from the good time?Ray J: No we still have a good time. When people show me love or show her love, we show love back.AHHA: There was another issue you wanted to clear up?Ray J: That would be the Karrine Steffans situation.AHHA: Tell us about that.Ray J: Nothing really happened. I’m cool with her, and she’s cool with me. We rolled on the red carpet, and then we separated. Then after we separated from the red carpet, we just continued to do our thing. I have a lot of respect for women, and I have a lot of respect for her. She is cool. She’s always been cool with me, and I’ve always been cool with her. I want to keep it that way. I don’t want the media to come in and affect that.AHHA: Exactly what was said about the red carpet?Ray J: They said that security had to remove her from the red carpet. All that happened was that we separated on the red carpet. We just went off and did our thing. Last time I saw her I said wassup, and everything was cool.AHHA: Oh so you still talk to her?Ray J: No, I don’t know about now after what was said, but I still hope to be cool with her and we were cool. I would love for it to remain like that.AHHA: There was one other thing?Ray J: The porno thing. Yes I have been offered a multi-million dollar deal to direct porn, but I have continuously turned that down. That is just not me, and that is not where my career is headed. I am really focused on my music right now, and I will continue to grow as an actor. I just really want the world to understand that that is not who I am, and that is not where I’m headed.AHHA: How did those offers come about?Ray J: I think that after the DVD released, after a lot of people bought into it, people started calling for me.AHHA: What was your reaction to the release of the DVD?Ray J: A lot of legal things happened to try to stop the release. As a matter of fact, there are legal things going on right now that will stop the sale of the DVD. Even to this day, there are a lot of legalities going on. I just can’t wait ‘til it all goes away.AHHA: Did you do it yourself or did you have your legal team try to take care of it?Ray J: There were several legal teams that went after it. Kim took care of it in a different way. We made that tape in the privacy of our own world, and until this day I regret the ramifications that making that tape has caused for me and my family, her and her family, and my fans.AHHA: Would you do that again?Ray J: I am one to learn from my mistakes, and this was a mistake. This was four years ago; I was young and I made a mistake.AHHA: Tell us about how you’ve become more mature.Ray J: Personally, I’ve been directing my own career with a very hands-on approach – with a small team building my label, Knock-Out Entertainment. I’ve been trying to become smarter as a businessman and as a man in general, and I want to become stronger as an actor. Whether it be in sitcoms or movies, and all the independent films that we want to direct ourselves. Me going independent for my last album and still being able to be on top of the charts allowed us to be more confident releasing more music independently. That’s all I’ve been focused on is making independent money with my team.AHHA: How many units did your last album move?Ray J: It’s been like a year and a half, and I was very happy with the success, and we did a joint venture with Sanctuary with us spending a lot of our own money. We didn’t really think it would break through like it did. We had to do our own promotions with the P.D.s, the radio, and T.V. giving people a chance to put it on, so I am very happy about it.AHHA: What kind of obstacles did you face creating a successful independent record?Ray J: We had to spend our own money, get our own promotions team, and all that stuff. We had to put everything together ourselves. We just kept working the record and working it and working it, and it finally took off. We did everything from performing in front of two people, to 30,000 people. It was a struggle, but the struggle turned into something positive.AHHA: Can you speak on the money difference between a major and an independent?Ray J: This album did something like 400,000 units, and on a major, you probably wouldn’t make any money off the album. Independently, you do have to recoup all of that money anyways, so it all depends on how you do it. A lot of people want to go independent, but don’t have the fan base. So it may be easier for someone who’s been in the game for a long time to go independent with a fan base. If you spend less, you make more.AHHA: Do you think you already had that fan base?Ray J: I think it was solid, and I think as “One Wish” began to grow, my fan base increased, and I still had a lot of credibility with “Wait a Minute” with Lil’ Kim and Pharrell. That gave me an opportunity to come back out. That is why this time around my record was much more passionate. AHHA: Seems like you got a lot of support from some other people in the game.Ray J: Yeah I am a very hands-on person, so if I see somebody like Timbaland or Pharrell I won’t hesitate to go up and ask for the opportunity. Like my mom always said, “Success happens when opportunity meets preparation.”AHHA: How much did Brandy help?Ray J: Brandy opened a lot of doors for me. From producing the CoverGirl commercials to guest starring on her show and producing her show, and she got my music rolling too.AHHA: Do you think it’s held you back?Ray J: It’s a lot to follow up. Her success was so big; it is a challenge to match that success. I never give up on what I want to do. We always play team ball; we don’t really try to compete against each other. I want to take it to the next level and go where she’s gone. I pray to God everyday and keep learning.AHHA: What is on the next album?Ray J: I am working on the next album right now. It is an incredible album, very personal. I am working on the album with Rodney Jerkins, and that is who I’m working with on this one. We’re going to get into a zone and just lay out all the emotions and events that are happening in my life.AHHA: How much is Rodney Jerkins doing for the album?Ray J: I am executive producing the album with Rodney.AHHA: How did you get at him?Ray J: He’s one of my close friends; he’s a close friend of the family since Brandy. Some producers just click with me, and I don’t want to stray away from someone I feel like I have a good connection with. So I am always calling him, telling him what I’m feeling. Our chemistry together is golden. I want to continue that for me and for my fans.AHHA: How have you changed since the first record?Ray J: I think this record is where I am at in my life right now. This is where I am today, and my music will reflect from that. I am looking to come back strong with this new album T.K.O. and my label Knock-Out Entertainment.

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