Style Observer

My Kingston — Ray Knight Jan 27

Sunday, January 27, 2019

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Ray Knight
Hip-Hop Artiste & Musician

What's your idea of a perfect weekend in Kingston?

Going to Devon House and hanging out with friends and family during the day. If there's some programming happening through my friend's non-profit, 'Every Mikkle Jamaica', making sure I get there to help out the youth. And then once the night-time hits, wherever the party is.

Which five words best describe you?

1. King

2. Warrior

3. Artistic

4. Determined

5. Collected

You were born in Fresno, CA, but your family is from Jamaica. What do you remember about your visits here?

I was a little past childhood when I first started coming back, but what I remember most was my great-grandmother and all the love that I got from the family. Dumplings in the mornings, the smell of curry cooking outside, and little cousins running around. Every time I came to Jamaica I just felt at home. Spending my days walking barefoot, going to the store to get patties and bun, and just getting back to my roots.

You've noted that the records your mom played in your youth inspired your love for music. What were some of your favourites?

Moms loved a lot of music, but out of the stuff she played, some of my favourites were Waterbed Hev by Heavy D, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and that Luther Vandross Greatest Hits album. She can't live without Luther.

You currently live in Paris. What prompted the move there?

I needed a change in my life. I wasn't making the best decisions, was getting harassed by the police all the time, and overall just didn't feel I was in the place I needed to be to make my dreams happen. I knew that a lot of black performers from the US had headed out to Paris and found a lot of success because of that move, so I figured, why not give it a try?

How would you describe your growth between your first album From Me, To You and your second, Grapes & Water?

Necessary and rough. I wrote most of Grapes & Water in Egypt at a time when my vision for myself was becoming clearer but things weren't necessarily aligning. That time between the two was just a process of me shedding some of my old ways and becoming a better version of myself.

Briefly describe your experience as a young hip-hop artiste.

It hasn't been easy, but the journey's been worth it. Pursuing this has allowed me to perform in Egypt, Kenya, Italy, France, and multiple cities across the US. It's allowed me to get onstage and bear it all, and connect with people that I would've never had the opportunity to connect with.

How have your Jamaican roots influenced your music?

I'm proud of who I am and what I come from, and I make sure that's reflected in my music. My roots have helped to keep me honest when telling my story and experiences; they allow me to draw from my people's experiences, as well.

What words of advice would you give to up-and-coming musicians looking for their big break?

In the digital age, I don't think that way of looking at the music industry applies as much as it used to. So the first thing I would say is, make sure you love what you're doing, because if you don't, you won't be able to overcome the challenges that this may present. Also, know what your specific goals are and physically map out a plan for how you can achieve that, and work on it every day. And more importantly, don't deal with negative people and negative vibes.

What's your last major splurge?

I don't really splurge like that, but I did just spend some bread on new studio equipment, a couple of Yamaha HS8 monitors, an Apogee Duet audio interface, and all the material to build myself customised bass traps.

A night out or a night in?

A night in, making music.

What's the last book you read?

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.

What's your personal credo?

1. Believe in yourself or nobody else will.

2. Define what success is for you.

3. Don't forget your roots.

4. Be unapologetically black.

5. Never stop learning.

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