Chicago-raised artist Ray iLLa stands out in the hands-on relationship he has with his craft. He’s a quadruple threat as the writer, part-time producer, audio engineer, and visual director for all of his own music, and between all the hats he puts on, Ray iLLa remains raw and truthful with his songs’ motivational slick talk and street-conscious storytelling.
All of his writing comes from his own experiences and learned perspectives, and the love, passion, and general connection he has to his work consistently shines through in his work. His first visual “Unique Individual” racked up over 190,000 views over the last month, and he’s built relationships and collaborations with other respected figures in the industry, including the likes of artists Dreezy, King Louie, and GLC. For Ray iLLa, the grind doesn’t stop. “If you don’t work, you don’t eat,” he emphasizes.
Ray iLLA started making music early on, which comes with no surprise as music runs in his family’s blood.
“Everyone in my family either sings or plays an instrument,” he says.
It wasn’t long before a young Ray iLLa followed suit. He started playing drums in the 2nd grade, then learned to read and write music before continuing on to play in school bands. Eventually, Ray iLLa entered the world of rap by freestyling with his friends in high school, which paved the way for him to become the full-fledged recording artist he is today.
Now, Ray iLLa is in a position to put out the biggest records of his career, and along the way, he wants to help other artists win. He’s already doing it, hosting a bi-annual event in Chicago’s neighborhood of Chatham featuring DJs and other live performers, as well as leveraging a label partnership to support other artists as they come up themselves. For Ray iLLa, that’s a win-win scenario; he’s putting the work in because he loves what he does.
“Only pursue [music] if you really love it,” he advises other up-and-coming artists. “If you don’t grind, you don’t shine.”
You can stream Ray iLLa’s music on all streaming platforms. Watch his first self-directed visual “Unique Individual” below, and follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube @RayiLLa to keep up with the multi-faceted artist and all of his upcoming work.