IN his musical identity as Rayquan868, Elijah Raymond wants to use his rapping skills to create quality music which inspires others. At 22, the Belmont native has made inroads towards carving a niche for his product to music consumers.
Raymond has released over 15 singles, which have accumulated more than 30,000 views on YouTube, and across his social media platforms he has attracted more than 4,000 followers. Though the numbers speak for themselves and suggest Raymond is steadily building his presence on the music scene, Newsday interviewed the rapper to learn more about his journey.
“I got into rapping around 15. It started with rap battles in class when I attended Trinity College, Moka. It was an opportunity to showcase my talent and lyricism,” he said.
Realising he was passionate about the art form, Raymond started writing songs and decided to seriously pursue a rap career just over two years ago. He's working in sales and retail to fund his music career while he builds his profile.
Some of his more popular releases have included Say Less and Trackstar, featuring local singer Shania Pompey. His music fuses hip hop with Caribbean and African elements.
He said, “I try to make something fresh, and sounds that people wouldn’t expect. I experiment with new sounds, changes in rapping styles, song structures and even genre. My music is essentially a mix of hip hop, dancehall and Afrobeat. It is upbeat and chill.”
His sound and style are influenced by the likes of local rappers Jay Nhage and Jimmy October. On why they inspire him Raymond said, “They also make fusion-style songs and create music that can be love locally and internationally.”
Jamaican reggae sensation Koffee and Nigerian Afrobeat star Burna Boy are also on his list of inspirations.
Asked about the support his music has been receiving Raymond said, “The support has been consistent. People attend shows and share the music, so I can’t complain.”
He has performed live on Synergy TV, Sunny at Sundown, Pure Radio and has played at local venues including the Pop-Up Shop, Bohemia Room, Rust Street, St Clair, and Native II. His music has been played on The Grind radio show hosted by Chromatics on 99.1 and Boom Champions 94.1.
“Performing my song Say Less on live TV at Sunny at Sundown and having my music play on radio for the first time were highlights. I look forward to regional and international shows should they present themselves,” said Raymond, when asked about his career highlights.
In October, he appeared on TTT’s Now Morning show and was interviewed by Lisa Wickham.
“Lisa was very cool and is such an amazing person. She made the TV appearance an enjoyable one. I was kind of nervous, though.”
Raymond hopes to collaborate with his local and international music inspirations, but he is in no hurry and understands that travelling the road of success takes times.
“I can see collaborations and an album project in my future, but timing is everything. I’ll be having an upcoming music video for my single Trackstar so be on the lookout."
Asked what advice he has for other young people pursuing creative careers, Raymond said, “Keep learning, stay hungry, be open to criticism and never give. And most importantly, have courage.”
His hopes for the local music scene are: “more collaborations, more opportunity, more outlets, and less stigma for local music outside the realm of soca. Dancehall has been making waves and I hope hip hop, R&B, reggae and alternative sounds can have the same trajectory.”