(AllHipHop Features) Ray J may very well be the reigning king of reality television. The 35-year-old entertainer has starred on Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business, Bad Girls All-Star Battle, and Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood. However, it was the two seasons of the relationship show For The Love Of Ray J that first established the singer-actor as an undisputed champion of unscripted programs.
Fast forward to 2016, Ray has found his soul mate in fellow LHHH star Princess Love, so he no longer needs to search for a better half on the small screen. Instead, Ray J is helping other people potentially find a romantic partner through the new WE tv series Driven To Love.
The hour-long program is a blend of the TV classic The Dating Game and the long-running game show Cash Cab. On Driven To Love, single daters get to question five prospects as they ride in an SUV driven by Ray J. Pick ups that fail to impress get kicked to the curb. The vehicular speed dating format features Ray serving as both host and adviser.
AllHipHop.com’s Yohance Kyles spoke with Ray J about Driven To Love. The Mississippi born, California raised showbiz veteran also discusses his latest music releases, his upcoming projects, his perceived legacy, and more in this exclusive interview.
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What first attracted you to want to do Driven To Love?
I’ve been on a couple of dating shows before, so I’ve been down the dating show road. To come back to be an executive producer and create this new twist on dating, I thought it would just be hella fun. Being engaged now and having a new perspective on life, I thought it would be really cool. The whole time I was playing wingman and hooking people up. I was having a lot of fun, and I was taking it seriously making sure they connected.
You definitely come off as more than just a traditional game show host.
I got a lot of jokes. I say what everybody’s thinking. It’s a pretty good dynamic.
You’re very interactive with the people on the show. Was that concept presented to you or did you develop your own role for the series?
They just told me to be Ray J. I know how to do this reality thing. I think me connecting with a regular person is funny. Us having those conversations and trying to figure it out together is a good time. I knew I would connect, because I’m good with people.
One of the segments that stood out for me was “Phone Check.”
Yeah, the “Phone Check” is always the best one.
I think the concept of letting someone you’re dating look into your phone is kind of scary for a lot of people, but I’m sure that led to some really interesting TV moments.
It definitely gets critical and intense.
Did you ever have anyone say, “I don’t think I want to do that.”
A lot of people wanted to get out of the car. I had to convince them to go along with it. In a lot of the scenes you don’t see, I was like, “Nah man, don’t get out the car. Trust me. You know I got you too. Give me that phone.”
You mentioned before about your experience on reality TV. You have the Love & Hip Hop franchise in California, and you’re doing Driven To Love in New York. How were you able to balance doing both shows?
It’s not that hard. I have another show I’m shooting on BET called Music Moguls with Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri, Birdman, and Dame Dash. I got another show on Reelz that I produce called Hollywood Hillbillies. We’re on our 4th season. Then I got another show I’m working on now on the Food Network. And I’m doing a show with my sister [Brandy] on Fox.
This is what I do. I’ve created a brand around reality TV from day 1 when it first started. From there, I’ve capitalized off creating great relationships. My production company - we’re nonstop. I feel good. I like having multiple things going on, and I have a strong team that makes sure we juggle it all the right way.
When can we expect the Music Moguls show?
Music Moguls will be out in June. Hopefully, the show will come on right after the BET Awards.
When your song “Caddi (Real Life Playa)” first came out, it was reported that it was a response to Kanye West. Was that actually your intention?
I dropped it on my own social media the right way. You can listen to it. It’s really not like that. It’s just a smooth song talking about how I’ve been a player before, but now I’m changing my life. The girl that I’m with, she’s the one.
That seems to be a theme that you’re going with now. Even with “Curtains Closed,” it feels like you’re saying, “I’m closing the door to the old Ray, and I’m entering a new life with my fiancée.”
Yeah, that’s what I’m focused on right now. It’s about that time for me to grow up, do bigger things, build bigger brands, and be a one-woman man. That’s where I’m at.
With you releasing all these singles, is there a plan to do a full album soon?
Maybe. I don’t know. I’ve always been independent, so when I feel like the world wants a Ray J album I’ll give it to them. But until then, I’m gonna keep jabbing them with singles and finding my way musically.
The industry has been shifting the last few years. It almost feels like the concept of an album is fading out. With streaming, it seems to be a major move happening. How has that affected you as a music artist and where do you see the industry going as far as the way music is presented to the public?
I really haven’t thought about it. I love music, but that’s like the last thing on the schedule for our business. It’s something that I love to do from the heart. That’s why I put out songs, because they’re songs from the heart that I care about. Other than that, that’s not a way that we get it financially. We make okay money, and it’s cool. But it’s nothing like what we do in television and this new venture that we’re working on.
I don’t know if you saw this, but last year Vince Staples did an interview where he was talking about you. Vince said he felt like you were one of the greatest West Coast artists of all time. He went on to say almost everything that’s happening in black culture right now, you’ve had a hand in. Did you see that?
Yeah, I laughed at that. He was keeping it real though. I appreciate that. I don’t like to boast about what I do, but he knows what’s going on. A lot of people on the West Coast know, because they know my real life and the real business side of it. Everybody else around the globe and in the other states don’t really know the situations that go on on the day-to-day business side out here on the West Coast. I respect that from him and much love to him.
Speaking of your business work, I wanted to ask you about these Scoot-E bikes you’re endorsing. Can you talk about the product and what led you to want to join forces with that brand?
I think it's cool. I’m a brand ambassador for it with Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, and Diddy. We’re having a whole lot of fun. This thing is starting to catch a new wave. Yesterday I was with Snoop. I was texting Wiz [Khalifa] and French Montana. Everybody’s getting into these Scoot-E bikes. I think it’s perfect for the summer. We’re even centering it around Christmas time too. It’s going to be a real good time.
Knowing how you love to incorporate your different brands, could we possibly see a “Ridden To Love” spin-off featuring Scoot-E bikes?
I’m not mad at that. [laughs]
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Driven To Love with Ray J airs Fridays at 10/9 central on WE tv. To watch episodes of Driven To Love online visit wetv.com.
Watch the official trailer for Driven To Love below.