Mindless Behavior will forever go down as one of the most iconic boy bands in history, best known for their hit singles, “My Girl” and “Mrs. Right.”
Insert Rayan Lopez (nicknamed Ray Ray at the time), who’s back on the music scene after a long hiatus.
With the group dismantling, Rayan needed to find his own footing as a solo artist — and he plans to take things to the next level.
Rayan describes himself as a “creative,” something he’s been his entire life.
Before he was immersed in music and dance, he actually thought he was going to be a drawing artist. While he was always drawing portraits, he eventually fell in love with music and all it encompasses.
He states, “Overall, my entire life revolved around ideas, just creating and being free.”
Rayan arrives at Coffee Commissary in Burbank a much more mature, knowledged, independent artist than Ray Ray was.
AllHipHop: You were only 13 when the band formed. What was life like then?
Rayan: It was a dramatic transition because I grew up in South Central Los Angeles, so I come from the hood. We moved to Compton, went to live with Keisha Gamble (she developed the group) for about a year, then instantly there was fame for us. It was a great experience. I loved being in the group, but it was something to adjust to and to wrap my mind around. Because from where I come from, that’s just a dream.
AllHipHop: How do boy groups compare today?
Rayan: I don’t think they’re the same at all. Back in the day, even as old as I am, Jackson 5, B2K, all these other bands, there was a lot of development that went into groups. That went into taking four, five, or however many members, and making them one. Nowadays because of social media, it’s different. People just be like “oh we’re a group now, let’s post.” They don’t put the hard work into it like they used to.
AllHipHop: Do you ever get sick of performing “My Girl”?
Rayan: When I was performing it, definitely. I got sick and tired of that song, just because it was the first single. I got tired of hearing it. I don’t perform it at all anymore. Honestly, I don’t touch any of the Mindless Behavior music at all. But during that time, oh I used to be sick of that song! That and “Mrs. Right.”
AllHipHop: What was life like after Mindless Behavior?
Rayan: Well when I left, I went through a hard time really realizing okay, now you have to focus on yourself. You’re a priority. Not this idea, brand of which you are, these other three members. I had to wrap my head around: you’re an individual and you have to take care of yourself. I went through hardships but it was a learning experience because now I’m in a better place. I’m more proud of being Rayan than Ray Ray. Or this image of Ray Ray, so it’s great. Life is beautiful right now.
AllHipHop: How much did it affect you?
Rayan: I left because of bad management, being taken advantage of, things like that. Because I was young and naive, I didn’t know any better. Leaving the group, I had a big downfall. I had to go back to where I was raised, etc. It was a learning lesson. I took my depression, my pain, the sacrifice I had to go through and realized you have to learn from it. You have to grow. You can’t become stagnant. It was definitely hard, but I appreciated it more than anything.
AllHipHop: Why the hiatus?
Rayan: Shortly after I left the group, I found out I was having a son. Also when I wasn’t obligated to post from my Instagram, I just realized I dislike social media. I’m not the biggest fan of it. I use it because I have to. I don’t get the idea of watching other people do things when you can do it yourself, or watch your favorite artist post money when you can go make that money. [chuckles]
Even now my phone, I have it set up to where I only get up to two hours on social media so I have to use my time wisely. You can set it up in Settings. For me, I was tucking away because not only did I not want my son in the limelight, but just to get away. It was healthy. I really got into meditation and doing yoga, really self-care more than anything. Social media can wait! For me personally, I know I’m talented. I know I got multiple gifts. When I’m ready to hit, it’s going to hit. That might just be the confidence in me, but it’s how I am.
AllHipHop: Do you think social media is important in today’s streaming era?
Rayan: Yeah, social media is very important with being an artist today. I read this article that 80% to 83% of all individuals on social media don’t read anymore. It’s only about the visuals, which is why Instagram’s so big. That makes sense because nowadays, everybody wants you to be visually attractive. If you drop a song, you must drop a video too. If you don’t have a video, you have to make a Triller or Tik Tok. They want to see you, so Instagram is definitely a huge part of developing and being a huge tool for major artists today. It helped so many celebrities, even from little memes. From Megan Thee Stallion to DaBaby, certain things catch on and then the internet just grabs to it.
AllHipHop: How has the music industry changed on your hiatus?
Rayan: Social media. [chuckles] Even if you’re a new artist, people expect you to have the same amount of financial image as the most popular artist. They just expect a lot of you. They want you to go Live, they want you to post every now and again, all these things. But back then, it wasn’t about that. You were posting for fun.
It’s totally different now with social media. I appreciate the industry now: because of social media, you’re allowed to be more free. You don’t have to sign to these bulls##t labels. You can be independent. You can be an individual now and you’re not judged for it. You don’t have to follow these rules. Overall, it’s a good change.
AllHipHop: Best part of being a solo artist?
Rayan: I don’t have to do choreography. [laughs] Nah. I don’t have to worry about three other individuals possibly ruining my career. At the time we were together, we had love for each other. As people, we grow apart. But it used to worry me sometimes being on tour. If this person messes up on the show, they don’t just go “oh hey, Roc Royal messed up.” They say “Mindless Behavior had a bad show.” Their flaws and their wrongs were also light on me, that’s something I really disliked.
AllHipHop: What inspired your new single “Right Now?”
Rayan: Truthfully my younger brother, he’s from the streets. You see any idea of street gang violence, that’s my little brother. He’s really into that lifestyle so I have to look out for him. There was a situation where people who disliked him went after him, and my little brother was shot. I got a call, I pulled up on him and he was panicking. He was bleeding, this whole situation. There was a moment where I had to pull him to the side, me and him had a really deep one-on-one talk before going to the hospital.
But my anxiety is really bad. For the first time in my life, I felt I needed some sort of substance to calm me down. I’ve never felt that way before. Like I say in the song, I’ve never popped a pill. I’ve never done these popular drugs. Well, besides psychedelics. [chuckles] That’s the first time I felt that way so when I started writing, instantly that was the inspiration.
AllHipHop: The “Rest in peace Nip” line stuck with me.
Rayan: The part of South Central I grew up from, the gang is Neighborhood 60’s. Rolling 60’s Crips, so my little brother is from the same hood that Nipsey’s from. I grew up in that hood my whole life. Being around, Nip was around. His homies, everything is six degrees of separation. When Nip died, yeah it affected the world, but people that came from that exact area, it triggered us differently. Because he didn’t deserve to go that way, it was such a traumatic experience.
Being there directly after, it just triggered us differently who come from that area. That was something I wanted to express. Not expressing it in a way where we were buddies or we were best friends, but just to let the world know: it’s always going to be rest in peace Nipsey. The utmost respect: he took care of his community. I know people personally that he took care of.
Though I grew up there, I never joined that gang. Back to the lines, I say “rest in peace Neighborhood Nip. That’s on Neighborhood Crip. I’m not from the set, but the Jackson’s where I live.” I’m really letting ya’ll know I come from there. Because Nipsey wasn’t supposed to go that way. Even thinking about it, it’s disturbing.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from your forthcoming EP?
Rayan: A lot of truth. Though the genre’s hip hop, it’s rap, I always have this melancholy tuck to me. I’m talking a lot about where I come from and a lot about women. I love women. I have so many different stories that I wanted to be honest about. No matter if you’re single or in a relationship, you’re always going through something. For you, it might be a man. For a man, it might be a woman.
Also with family, there’s constantly something happening. So a lot of truth, a lot of subtle feels. Even if the beat is hitting hard, I have my own world in music. That’s what I want to get across in the sound, which is why I’m naming the EP If Love Died Everyday. Not just about relationships, it’s about hardship and heartache. We all go through s##t and I just want to highlight that. I want to connect to people that way.