I first met Rayven Justice through my work with Oakland youth. He was a veteran student in a youth organizing program I took over at Oakland High School. He had just graduated, but I grew very close to his younger brother Raymen in the following years as a mentor and friend. Two years ago, Raymen was murdered on the 3 block stretch between their apartment and Oakland High School. Rayven and his father ran down and held Raymen as he bled to death waiting over 30 minutes for an ambulance. He was four blocks from Highland Hospital. Many of us mourned, but no one felt the pain and numbing trauma that Rayven did. I can’t even imagine.
It shook Rayven to the core and he was unable to get out of bed or even speak for quite some time. After a few days he was able to muster the strength to come on the radio with me and his mentor to raise money for the funeral. It was the first time I heard him speak in days. It’s fair to assume that music was the furthest thing from his mind at a time like that, but his little brother, and sometimes collaborator, was one of his most ardent supporters. So in the wake of the trauma of losing Raymen, Rayven began recording again, just as his brother would have wanted. I’m sure Raymen is elated and proud of his older brother, but also jealous that he’s missed out on the past year’s triumphs. Rayven has collaborated with a whos who of notable Bay Area artists, and come into his own along the way. And let’s not forget that the ladies love Rayven. That’s probably the part that Raymen would have enjoyed most.
Much of the work Rayven Justice has become known for (“Tsunami” with LoveRance, “Grabbin On My Zipper” with Kafani, and the “Up! Remix” with J. Valentine and Pleasure P) are of the more vulgar hit-and-quit variety, but he’s also showed a penchant for recording heartfelt ballads like “Settle For Less” and “Fallin Down,” the latter of which was just broadcast on Bad Girls Club last night.
Our favorite record from him to date is “Wait For You,” a haunting promise to the woman in his life that he isn’t going anywhere. The song-writing, production and pitch go perfectly together, and most importantly, it makes you feel something. We’re eager to witness the continued development of Rayven’s voice, and look forward to the release of more mature records such as this that illustrate his depth and range.
Aftertword: Artists are built up and torn down without most of us ever knowing who they are. I don’t think every artist needs to put all their business out in the street, but we can’t be afraid to be all of who we are, including the messy painful parts. It was his passionate display of his contradictions that made 2pac so dynamic, and why Rayven’s brother Raymen found Pac so inspiring. Whether you are an artist or not, be all of who you are; don’t hide.
Download Rayven Justice’s recent mixtape, Something About Rayven.