Babyface Ray Dropped Two of the Year’s Best Rap Albums—and He’s Just Getting Started

From those earliest times, when you were into Bow Wow and then Wayne, did you think of rap as something you wanted to pursue in a serious way? 

Yeah, but it wasn’t really them that inspired me. I don’t even know what took place that made me start doing it. I think it just was like, I wanted to go to the studio, or we would mess with our computers and find a way we could record our voice on there. You know that fat-back computer? With the little mic at the top? We used to put a cover over our heads and rap into that. And then, you know how hobbies on the weekend start: Some kids would want to go to the movies, some would want to go skating. Me and my homeboys used to want to go to the studio. We took our little money that our parents gave us and paid for studio time.

You graduated that fast to real studios?

We started going to studios early in the game—probably ninth, tenth grade.

You guys are rhyming over what, Soundclick beats? 

Soundclick sounds right for sure. And imeem was out. We would take beats from Soundclick, then upload our music to imeem and be able to take our music and put it on our Crushspot pages to go with our profiles. So we had our own music on our profiles even back then. We was our own fans; we wasn’t doing it for nobody else, we were literally doing it for ourselves.

What do you sound like at that point? 

Super metaphors, back to back to back. Fabolous was one of the guys I used to try to [emulate]. Wayne again. Whoever had the best metaphors, we thought that was the thing to do when you were rapping.

So the beats were secondary, you were writing 16, 16, 16, 16… 

Yup, yup, yup. Sometimes we wouldn’t even make it to the studio to record, we’d just have it written out and have our raps. 

Did you live in the same part of Detroit your whole life? What was the city like to you as a kid?

I stayed on East Davison, from one year old to nine years old, then I moved to East McNichols which is 6 Mile, on Dresden street. And I pretty much stayed there throughout my whole youth. It was normal. here was shit going on for sure, but it was normal.

You didn’t feel like you were writing raps in reaction to your environment.

Hell nah. Even when it was going on, we didn’t know it was going on, we were too young.

When you linked up with the other Team Eastside guys—Peezy, Dame Dot, and the late Eastside Snoop, among others—was it because you knew one another socially? Or did it come together as a professional project?

In the midst of me and my homeboys, the Fly Boys, doing our thing, I kinda became the favorite out of the group. It was two guys, Snoop and Peezy, who was doing their music on [Crushspot], and they were really known. I got to Peezy and them by word of mouth; somebody just told them I could rap. And then we ended up linking. The name came about from us putting music out on Twitter, and the fans coming up with [Team Eastside] for us. It wasn’t like I was leaving my homeboys, I was just the best one out of them.

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