Writer sees rap as a ray of life

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2008

SEBRELL—Hip hop is saving lives, according to a local artist.

Ray Boone, 29, nearing the release of his second CD, believes that a person rapping is a person not hanging out on the streets.

“A lot of people are down on rap for a lot of reasons—sometimes it’s the content, sometimes it’s the language,” he said.

“But this keeps a lot of youth out of trouble. Imagine what they could be doing if they aren’t at home putting a pen to the paper.

“It worked for me,” he said. “It gave me something to do.”

Boone, a 1996 graduate of Franklin High, said he’s been “messing with it” since high school.

“I was having fun with it in the back of the classroom. When I was supposed to be doing something else, I was writing my rhymes,” he said. “I loved poetry time in English.”

He began to treat his pastime more seriously in 1997, and joined a group called Verbal Assassins that was “pulled together” by his friend Marcus Ruffin.

They began getting gigs in the surrounding area, and opened for Portsmouth native and hip hop artist Missy Elliott.

“Like a lot of good things, it fell apart,” Boone said. “Instead of quitting, I’m trying to do some solo projects.”

Some of the members of Verbal Assassins still work together on projects, and Boone said anytime that happens, they go by the name Paper City Committee.

“More recently, a friend of mine, Ahmad Ridley of Franklin, and I performed at Club Blakely’s in Chesapeake,” said Boone. Ridley’s stage name is F.A.O.D.

Boone’s first release effort, “Frank Grimez for Mayor,” which incorporates his stage name, wound up a demo-size CD and copies were given away to friends. That was in 2003.

In 2006, he completed “Annie West’s Son,” a mixed-style release that included six original songs.

“The VACCINE,” being recorded at R&T Digital Recording Studio in Franklin and F.A.C.E. Entertainment of Suffolk, is still in the works and includes all original tracks from party songs like “Move, Shake” to more reflective works such as “Cry,” a song

about the “different struggles in life.”

“I want to go to radio with this one,” he said, noting that he isn’t using strong language on the new CD.

“It’s more work to go back to the studio to clean it up,” he said.

Boone and Ridley will be performing at an event scheduled for Saturday from noon on at Airway Shopping Center.

The block party—custom car show, bike show and live stage show— will be hosted by Anguz Black, and is being held by The Canteen Cigar & Cigarette Outlet, and sponsored by a number of businesses, including R&T Digital Recording Studio and Underground Sound.

Model and dancer Marquita Bianca is also slated to be a guest at the event.

Boone said he is supposed to perform two to three songs later in the day, between 4 and 5 p.m.

He said, “F.A.O.D. will perform, too. We’re putting out a promotional CD with three of my songs and three of his on it to give away (at the event).”

Boone said if he had any advice to offer to others who want to record a CD, it would be to stay focused.

“Learn as much about the business as possible,” he said.

“If you see a fellow writing, support him.

“He’s staying out of trouble and doing something creative.”