Ray J : This Ain’t A Game

Brandy's little brother gets to duet with Lil Kim on this Rodney Jerkins-produced record...

Well you won’t nod to beats by a fella called Willie Norwood Jnr would you? So the vaguely street sounding Ray J it is then. And while proving poncy names don’t sell records, Ray J also lends credence to Sigmund Freud’s theories on sibling rivalry too.

Ray J is Brandy’s kid brother. And if she is going to have dual hit careers in music and television then the 20 year old kid brother wants to go further. It’s been five years since his smooth, pop- oriented debut ‘Everything You Want’ and since then he’s become a small-screen star (‘Moesha’) and done a movie or two. But like older sis is his real preoccupation is ensuring he doesn’t end up on one of those future ‘What Ever Happened To…?’ child star docs twitching from drug use and moaning about how his career went bell up as soon as a hair appeared on his nut sac.

But the career transition from brat to grown up is a hard one. ‘This Ain’t A Game’ is Ray J’s big chance. Hence the walls to the studio building quiver and shake as Rodney Jerkins crashes through the door to helm the project and lend just the right pop/r&b mix. ‘Wait A Minute’ you already know is the stand-out moment. Lil’ Kim acts just like Ray’s big sis would never dare in this tale of punani, bling bling and clubbing.

Ray J might sound like he researched the role as ‘playa’ following Jay Z around and watching from behind a newspaper with two eye holes cut in it but the track smokes, and that’s that. [I]”I’m from the land of wimmin, sunny days, chrome spinnin’, juice and gin’n, it’s on ta night!”[/I]. Indeed.

‘Out The Ghetto’ works too, tho’ after a while Ray’s advice that escaping from aforementioned urban penury means you’ve got to ‘work hard’, ‘hustle’ and ‘stay foke-issed’ starts to annoy. It’s also sounds like one of Gordon Brown’s speeches. Again, Jerkins’ beats are what draw your attention. The stand-outs are few. The trademark Jerkins skittery beats are many. And ‘Wet Me’ should make breakfast table chit chat with ma, pa and big sis very interesting.