Ray J was quick to quash rumors that he’d been “in talks” with members of the Trump administration to potentially pardon Suge Knight, whom he considers his godfather. In 2018, 54-year-old Knight was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 28 years in prison after running over two men at a burger drive-thru three years prior.
Once the initial reports were announced, Ray J, whose real name William Raymond Norwood Jr., didn’t hesitate in putting Daily Mail on blast, writing on Instagram: “Stop reporting false stories about me! This is the second time y’all trying to pull a stunt like this! The story you put up is false and corny! I’ve been working very hard building my companies and staying out of BS! If you wanna post a story about me pls make sure it’s true.”
Last month, TMZ reported the Death Row Records founder had signed over his life rights to Ray, entrusting him to make sure Knight’s story is told how it needs to be told — while earning Knight and his family some money. While declining to expound on their plans, the decade-long friends have been speaking regularly, Ray J says.
Many may not know that the “Sexy Can I” singer is first cousin to Snoop Dogg, who was a prominent artist on the Death Row Records roster. Ray’s extensive on the small screen also caught Knight’s attention. In 2009, Ray hosted his own dating show titled “For the Love of Ray J” on VH1. One year later, he teamed up with blood sister Brandy Norwood and their parents for “Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business,” another VH1 reality series.
Since then, the world has been witness to Ray J’s antics on shows like “Celebrity Big Brother” and “Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood.” Still, any publicity he gets he turns into profitable gain by informing consumers of his own Raytroniks consumer electronics — particularly the Scoot-E-Bike. At the end of 2017, he took it one step further and finalized a multi-million-dollar deal with Cowboy Wholesale, a reputable distributor of consumer electronics in New York City. Raycon Global was the result, offering an ecosystem of products surrounding the Scoot-E-Bike (such as Bluetooth headphones). The mantra? A more electric-based and efficient lifestyle.
Variety caught up with Ray J in Sherman Oaks, Calif. where he participated at the Conversation on Tech event presented by Tsu. He’ll next appear at Facebook HQ in February.
Why did people think you were in secret talks with Donald Trump to release Suge Knight?
[Laughs] You know, people make up a lot of different stories about a lot of different things. But that story right there, I jumped on top of it because I didn’t want it to spread. I really don’t know where that one came from but that was kind of loud. Again even how you’re asking me about it, I’m like “listen, let me get on my social media…” And I love the Daily Mail, I think they’re the ones who broke it so whoever told them was on a good one.
Was there anything you did to spark these rumors?
Nope. Not at all. Not at all.
Thoughts on the upcoming election?
It’s definitely a different kind of election coming up. It’s something very original with this one. The choices people have to pick from… we’ll see. It’s just a different dynamic now, but all for the greater good.
What about Trump’s impeachment?
I just figure we need to stick with trying to fix what’s broken in America, like the bigger topics of things. Try to really put our focus on change and helping people, and really try to do good for the country. Right now, it’s really targeted on one topic. I think they should definitely figure that out but overall, we should shift gears and really get back to business.
What’s your relationship with Suge?
He’s like my godfather, since I was super young. A lot of people really don’t know the relationship and how far it goes back. I mean, we’re talking coming over for Thanksgiving, Christmas. … Cool with moms, pops, the whole nine. So I’m always here to help.
Have you spoken to him?
I talk to him all the time. Overall, he’s requested for me to keep everything on the low, until he really figures out when he wants to announce how everything is going down. How he’s laying everything out for this year and for years to come. So I’m on standby. It’s a story and somebody’s life that everybody is intrigued by, good or bad. They want to understand what it was and what it is now. Because it’s one of those dots that connects with so many different people in the industry. There’s been so many massive movies and massive stories put out so to have this side of it really close the book of it, would be really, really cool. I would love to see that and watch it as well.
How often are false reports circulating about you?
A lot lately. Again, I don’t really take it personal. I understand the art of PR, social media, gossip, and what that does for businesses, so I don’t really trip off of it. All I try to do is stick to the plan, stick to what I’m doing. If I feel there’s a story that’s a little bit outrageous, where it needs to be either shut down or it needs to be paid attention to — to where people who support me or people who are looking at me right now in business, I want to make sure I put them at ease when certain ridiculous stories come out.
What’s next for Raycon Global?
Big things. Big collaborations. We got a few big people on board. I can’t say who yet. I want to make sure the deal is solidified but we’re really close to really creating a new sound. A new engineering space. The app world is what we’re targeting now, to make sure we have something really cool in the app space for Raycon.
But again, just continuing to put out great earbuds and upgrading them as they go. We have 15 colors right now. We’re beating the competition’s price by half, and our earbuds are better. Of course we’re still a small company compared to the big dogs, but we’re taking a shot at something really special. I’m really excited about it. I hope one of these big companies can recognize what we’re doing, and understand that this is an art we’ve created from the ground up, and possibly want to get involved with us so we can grow this thing to numbers that are really unimaginable.
Where did your passion for technology come from?
When I started to put my eye on electronic transportation is when I fell in love with it. I spent seven years trying to build Scoot-E-Bike and understanding the art of the game. Going that big helped me understand how to pull back and focus on products that are more affordable for everybody. Raycon happened and everything started to build from different spaces.
You’re one of the investors in Tsu, along with Karen Civil. Why that platform?
Just on the strength. Tsu is great because people post all day. It’s an opportunity for everyone to feel how Instagram felt when they got bought or when they make money off people’s posts. I love Instagram and Facebook. I’m going to speak at Facebook and spend a day there to show new projects like Loop Scooter, Scoot-E-Bikes, all the new Raycon headphones. I may possibly do a pop-up shop, too. We look up to them so now it’s time for everybody who posts, who are influencers, tastemakers, or even just regular people to get involved with making money for what you post. Tsu offers a platform to do it. People should hop in early because when everybody’s doing it, then you’re late. Get in early and start getting the money now.
Tell us about your new collab with LOOPSshare.
The LOOPSHARE deal is very important because I’m the creative director. We have bigger bikes. Not just the Scoot-E-Bikes that go up to 17 mph, these go further distances. It’s an electric scooter, you don’t need a motorcycle license — just a driver’s license. Scoot-E-Bikes are used for so many different things, but the LOOP scooter allows you to beat traffic and keep the green initiative. You don’t use any fossil fuel. We just announced the first of its kind partnership with Greenlines. Why is this huge? The partnership will entail the integration of LOOPShare’s electric scooter telematics and digital dashboard platform with the proprietary Greenlines Carbon Engine process. The Carbon Engine will allow LOOPShare to capture and sell the carbon reductions generated by the users of its fleet of electric scooters by developing an offset project. A carbon offset is a credit for greenhouse gas reductions achieved by one party that can be purchased and used to compensate (offset) the emissions of another party. We’re creating carbon offsets to monetize through our system. This is a game-changer… Being part of the green initiative is the most important thing, trying to really affect the climate change crisis right now in a positive way.