Hailing from Florida, Jamie Ray is a rapper/singer who has changed his life for the better, turning a negative into positive. Growing up in the streets, real name James Ray Elkins experienced a life filled with crime, drugs, and poverty firsthand. Penning his own lyrics, the 27-year-old is able to channel the struggle into his rhymes and music. Read more…
With the release of “16” featuring NBA YoungBoy, Jamie garnered the attention he needed by the hip-hop community, which includes fans and artists alike. It’s his unwavering work ethic, sharpened focus, and endless hours in the studio that prove to be a sure recipe for success.
For those who don’t know, who is Jamie Ray?
Jamie Ray is an artist from Polk County, Florida (central Florida). It’s the mud out there, like country. Basically, I came up doing music. My dad did music his whole life.
What kind of music?
He did southern rock music. My mom was more into the urban, hip-hop type stuff. She went to prison and then I dropped out of school and all that. I just decided I wanted to do music, so I’ve been doing it since I was 14.
How would you describe your sound?
It’s very melodic. It’s like rap and R&B, but my sound now is… I don’t just rap anymore. It’s got a melody in it. I rap about conscious things, more like the struggle and stuff like that so people can relate to me.
Do you come from the same area as XXX?
Nah, I think they’re Broward or something like that. I’m from Polk County, central Florida. Don’t get it twisted!
When did you move to Atlanta?
I moved to Atlanta like six months ago.
Yeah, I had to. Had to make a move. I should have moved there a while back, but it was perfect timing. It’s all about the perfect timing. Atlanta’s cool. It’s aite.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
I think it’s very important. LA’s got a good scene. I’m trying to link with some LA artists. I think it’d be cool to do something with YG and them. I got all the Atlanta artists already locked in.
Me and Lucci. Lil Baby. Me and Lil Baby got a record. NBA YoungBoy. Moneybagg Yo.
Your record with NBA YoungBoy, “16” has over 2.7 million views on YouTube. Did you foresee it blowing up like this?
No. Because whenever I recorded it, I recorded it in a trailer. The floors were bubbling up, like the wood floors. Ya’ll got real wood floors out here. [laughs]. We had the fake wood floors, and I’m trying to stay still while I’m recording. The microphone was falling over and stuff, so I had to keep redoing it.
Anyways, when I passed it off to my people and they heard the song, I had an open verse on it. NBA heard it and he was like, “Man, this is what I’m on right now.” ‘Cause he’s young, “16.” So he just jumped on it. He suggested we shoot a video and everything.
You dropped a project called Castles in the Air last year. What do you want fans to get from your story?
Basically, if you put your mind to it, you can do it. That’s basically the whole story. My story. I came from nothing. I’m beating the odds. Just put your mind to it. Speak it into existence.
I saw you in the lab with YFN Lucci recently. Can you talk about working with all the lit artists in the game? Do you feel like a co-sign is important at this point?
Yeah, definitely. They helped me out. They’re putting a stamp on me. So nobody can ask me no crazy questions really. I got the stamp. I’m the plug.
How important is social media for your career?
Social media is super important. You see how everybody’s winning, talking all that crazy mess on social media. I don’t do all that though. I don’t be trolling or nothing like that, so I don’t know. Shouts out to them guys.
You actually started making music out of the makeshift garage in your crib. Talk about your journey in music and when you realized this was for real.
I always knew it was for real. Since I started, I always loved it. I already knew this is what I was going to do, whether I was successful or not. I ain’t about to have a 9 to 5 or nothing like that. I ain’t going to work for nobody.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
My jobs never lasted. Probably like a month or two months, something like that. My girl mad at me. [laughs] She’s not mad at me no more, so everything good. But if I wasn’t doing music, I can’t even flex. I’m from the streets so I’d be getting into something.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Grammy’d out. I’m definitely Grammy’d out before 10 years. We don’t even have to say 10 years.
What is your take on the music industry?
It’s cool. I like it. But everybody’s helping me along the way. I can’t do nothing without my team. I got a good team behind me right now, super good team. Shouts out to everybody doing their thing, because I couldn’t do it on my own.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Record, record, record. Right now, I’m putting the work in so it ain’t no flamboyant — we ain’t going crazy or doing nothing wild right now. I’m just now getting into it, getting a little money or whatever. I’m in the studio constantly. I basically sleep in the studio. Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve pushed out about 50 records. So I got albums just sitting.
What did you do with your first advance?
I like jewelry, tattoos and stuff. I didn’t go too crazy.
What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
I have one special fan. She’s nuts about me. She’s from where I’m from. I don’t know, she just pops up everywhere I’m at when I go back to my city. So shout out to her. That’s my number one fan.
What advice do you have for an aspiring rapper?
Just keep working and don’t expect no handouts. Just keep grinding it out.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
I listen to a lot of Atlanta stuff right now, so I’m listening to Gunna, Lil Baby. I ain’t going to lie, I was really excited about that Moneybagg record, I got it yesterday. I was trippin’. Moneybagg is like my favorite new artist. He’s dope, so I was super excited about that. So I listen to a lot of Moneybagg, Gunna, Future. I can’t flex, I like Future.
I want to do something different. I don’t want it to be no hip-hop or rap artist. I’d have to say in between Adam Levine or Justin Timberlake. I sing and everything too, so I’d want to do something different. Take it to another level.
Anything else you want to let us know?
Be on the look out, we got a lot of stuff coming soon. “16” with featuring NBA YoungBoy doing numbers. Big things coming!