Rayvon

05/8/2002
Rayvon's Biography
by beelove

It’s a rare individual who doesn’t already know Rayvon’s irresistible voice. Shaggy’s long-time partner was featured prominently on the most played single of 2001, “Angel” (from Shaggy’s 10 million-selling MCA album Hotshot). Now Rayvon’s set to make moves with his Big Yard Music Group/MCA Records solo release, My Bad.


“This was a collective effort,” notes the charismatic singer. Members of the Big Yard family, including Shaggy, Rik Rok, legendary super-producers Shaun “Sting International” Pizzonia and Robert Livingston as well as Shaggy’s impeccable Hot Shot Band add to Rayvon’s distinctive flavor. Judging from his contribution to Mr. Boombastic’s dazzling international success, you’d expect Rayvon to stick to his smooth dancehall-R&B sound, but My Bad contains strong elements of hip hop and roots reggae. Here you’ll find Rayvon’s take on life, love and other issues, each song liberally laced with sharp wit and insight.

“A lot of the songs were funny and realistic,” Rayvon explains, “because they’re about things that actually happened to me. It’s real life with a comic twist.” Tracks that fit into the “fictional reality” category include “Story of My Life,” “I’ll Die for You,” “Hit and Run,” and the title track, which spins the tale of a nice guy who turns the tables on a gold digging girlfriend.

On the lighter side there are “2-Way” (featuring Shaggy, Rik Rok and label mates Brian & Tony Gold), and the electro-pop anthem, “Playboy Bunny’” which showcases the sharp-edged Brooklyn MC, Lady Raw.

Rayvon doesn’t disappoint pure reggae lovers, either. “English Pound,” “Danger Zone” (Produced by Shane Brown, son of legendary reggae great, Errol Brown), and the hauntingly beautiful “In the Wintertime” nice up an old school roots vibe to great effect.

A strong respect for the past is just one facet of Rayvon’s rich artistic heritage. Bruce “Rayvon” Brewster was born in Barbados and at the age of twelve moved to the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, where he was better able to delve into the worlds of dancehall and hip hop music. “Despite being from Barbados, I’ve always gravitated to reggae and hip hop. If you love a style of music you’re gonna want to imitate it, no matter where you come from.” Rayvon spent his high school years as a turntablist and emcee for a local hip hop crew, then began perfecting his dancehall style in the late 80’s. A chance meeting with another aspiring reggae artist, Orville “Shaggy” Burrell, occurred in 1988 at a Flatbush recording studio. The rest, as they say, is history. “We were both there to record separately, but we started talking and it clicked, so the producer asked us to record one track as a combination. The vibe was there immediately, so we took that and ran with it,” says Rayvon.

In 1992, Rayvon and Shaggy linked up with dancehall beat master supreme, Sting International, who produced “Big Up,” the tune that propelled the duo to a higher level of exposure. “Nice and Lovely” and other minor hits followed, allowing Rayvon and Shaggy the opportunity to tour. “At that time I was working for UPS,” Rayvon remembers. “One day I got an offer to do a two-week tour and I’d used up all my sick leave and vacation days. So I took a formal leave of absence from the job and I still haven’t returned. I hope they aren’t waiting for me!” All chances for UPS to reclaim their employee died when Shaggy’s remake of the Folkes Brothers’ classic rocksteady hit, “Oh Carolina,” became an international sensation. The single took the pair on several rounds of world tours, including the Caribbean, the U.S., Japan, Australia and Europe. In 1994, Rayvon branched out to include solo work in his itinerary. His first song, “No Guns No Murder,” (produced by Frankie Cutlass and Funkmaster Flex) was a massive summer hit. The cut caught the ear of Virgin Records (who at the time listed Shaggy on their roster) and Rayvon landed his own solo recording contract. His debut album, Hear My Cry, included production from top talents Sting International, Robert Livingston, Funkmaster Flex and Salaam Remi. Recorded in New York, Kingston and Tokyo, the album highlights Rayvon’s versatility in hip hop, dancehall and traditional reggae styles. Fans embraced songs such as “Stallion Ride” and “Pretty,” and Hear My Cry got love from both the dancehall and hip hop communities.

In addition to Rayvon’s solo career, he and Shaggy kept the world party going with international hits like “In the Summertime,” which rose to Number 3 on the U.K. charts and was featured on Shaggy’s Grammy-winning 1995 album, Boombastic. And as the whole world knows, 2001 was the year that pushed Rayvon and Shaggy to dizzying heights. 2001 was the year of “Angel.” The most played record of 2001 saw the ground-breaking duo on every possible television show, ranging from kids’ morning shows to “Late Night With David Letterman.” After traveling the world yet again and wrapping up a summer tour with the Backstreet Boys, Rayvon returned to the Big Yard headquarters and got down to the business of recording My Bad.

As pop music continues to be informed by reggae, hip hop and dancehall, a skilled artist such as Rayvon can only continue to shine brightly. My Bad features Rayvon in his prime, from beginning to end. “This album will allow people to really find out what I’m about. I’m a guy who likes to enjoy life and that’s what My Bad reflects.”

My Bad? It’s all good.