By Stephanie Stevens
Raeshwan Greene an artist and a drummer I met years ago when he was drumming for a band called YEAR OF THE LOCUST. I was honored and able to meet this gentleman and his band when they toured with Starset. A rock n roll band that captured and moved you on record and onstage. Greene’s drumming was so fun to watch and his humbleness to his craft was noteworthy when meeting the band.
As our friendship grew through the years I Learnt he was more than an artist, he was a father, a goal setter, he ran with his passions and he was so diverse in the music world; as the world is finding out in 2021 as he is bringing forth his solo work as AWESOME RAY RAY. Not just a drummer he is a songwriter, a singer, a spoken word and rap influencer. He is bringing raw truth about himself and the world to the forefront of his new music. So many avenues in the music world he has a talent in and that right there is going to bring a special diversity to his solo work! If I could sum up in one word what this new chapter of his life will bring it would be the word adventure; for the listeners and for himself.
Just go listen to a track like ON THE RUN and then skip to a track like THERAPY so different but such epic ness in their own genres; and that is where he stands out! He is giving you all that is in his heart n soul and he is portraying it in music, in a raw authentic way which leads to him traveling down different genres of the music world. That just shows that he is a lover of music he is not fearful of change and putting himself out there in a variety of elements to do the best he can and right now from what I have heard he is killing it! Right there is RESPECT for anyone that is giving their all for the passion they have!
I finally got to chat with Ray one on one to find out more about his chapter in Year Of The Locust, his background in music and what he hopes to do with the music he is making now
Q:I met you when you were in a band called Year Of the Locust, can you talk about how being in that band made you grow as a musician, how being able to tour changed your life for the better or worse and what being in a band meant to you?
A: I love those guys so much. Being in Year Of The Locust taught me so much. They taught me the true grind and hustle of the music industry especially in the rock world as it relates to being in bands. I learned so much about being on the road; how to work on a bus, and how to make the best out of even the worst of situations. It Definitely made me a better musician and It took me from drumming in the gospel,hip-hop/ R&B world, to the rock world as a drummer. Which was a totally different world then I was accustom to. So all in all it really helped sharpen all of my skills musically and as a person in all areas. What it meant to me was a level of brotherhood and friendship, Unlike I’ve ever experienced before. Those fellas are still my brothers and we definitely still keep in touch and still work on music together.
Q: How did you get into drumming and do you still play?
A: I’ve always been a drummer. I started banging on pots and pans around three years old. Then joined bands in elementary school, middle school and then went on to be the drum major of my marching band in high school. I’ve also played for multiple churches and other community entities and functions. I absolutely still play drums. I did the drums on my songs “My way home”, “No regrets”, and a new song that I’ll be releasing here shortly in about a month.
Q:If you could take one song you wrote with YOTL that means the most to you which one would it be and why?
A: I would definitely have to say “Movin on”. It’s such an amazing song and it means so much for so many different reasons. Things are always moving and changing in life. In fact that’s the only constant, and it’s sad that focus on the song but it is life and it does move on. Be it relationships friendships bands or anything else, everything has a season. I also directed and filmed that music video so there’s really a special place there for me with that song. And I absolutely have to give credit to Scot when it comes down to his delivery in the vocals it just touches your soul in such an amazing way.
Q: You have taken vocal duties in a diverse way so when did you decide you wanted to make your voice known and tell the stories you have created?
A: Before Year Of The Locust, I actually rapped for a pop punk band out of Virginia called “Escape The Armada”. So I had a little bit of experience with being on the microphone and upfront for sure. But honestly I’ve always been writing songs and producing/writing my own stuff with all the bands I’ve been in. Ultimately I knew there was going to come a point where I had to do something with it on a solo front. I just had to figure out my identity. It’s always been building in me even since I was a little kid.
Q:Earlier this year you went through a real hard time mentally and emotionally and tracked a song about it, I felt everything you wrote about and your story you told because I have the same thoughts, for people struggling how did you get through it and how do you deal with it on the daily and what would be your best advice?
A: My faith, music, and my daughters. I would definitely advise others to lean on your close inner circle and find your faith if you already don’t have it. There’s no possible way any of us can get through some of the worst times of our life alone. Even though I wanted to be alone, I had to recognize that I was not alone.
Q:Do you feel you found god then? I have come into contact with a lot of people who have had breakdowns and god came to them in the past year, do you feel this was what happened to you or have you been with him for a bit?
A: I wouldn’t say that I’ve been with him. He’s been with me. I’ve always had faith and God in my heart and life, but there are times where we all stray away and I believe during the last year and a half I was made heavily aware of that. I was reminded that he is the ultimate healer, and comforter no matter what we face. And that is the storms as I like to call them, or dark times calm, they don’t last forever and the sun will absolutely shine again.
Q: One of my favorites is NO REGRETS, did you do all the music and the lyrics etc and how is it being in control of everything these days?
A: I wrote the concept for No Regrets, and some of the generic guitar sounds then with help from my buddy Scot from Year Of The Locust he took the guitar sound to the next level and I’m so appreciative of his help. He also helped out on the vocals on the choruses and throws on some screams. I did pretty much everything else (laughing emoji). It’s a double edge sword being in control of everything as a solo artist, because you get to reap all the benefits when things are going great, but when things aren’t going so great and you realize you’re responsible for everything it can be a little bit over bearing but I do love it. I trust the process.
Q:ON THE RUN that is totally a 180 of other stuff you write how was putting this track together and did you have any help in getting the right vibe for this track and how do you feel about the overall finish product of this song?
A: On The Run came out first. That is the first solo song that I’ve ever done as Awesome Ray Ray. But yes it is totally different from most of my other stuff. Just like my other tracks, I wrote it and made demos then took it to a studio out in LA and had professionals clean it up for me a little bit. You know things that I’m not too great with, guitars and other production.I also took it down to Nashville and had a very good friend of mine Brian Bonds who is in the video ,( formally of Florida Georgia Line and Tantric) help me out with additional production and sweet guitar riffs layered on top. I’m so in love with the final product. That song and video will always have a special place in my heart for more reasons than I have time to explain right now.
Q:What is your plans now with your music and the songs you have been promoting and tracking? do you want to take this on the road?
A: I absolutely want to take those songs on the road for sure. I did an audit the other day, I have 29 unfinished songs. Things are about to get real LOL.
Q:A lot of people are going the route of self-employment in the music world and no labels are you one of them also and what’s your views about it and the near future?
A:I totally understand that. For right now I’m independent and unsigned and definitely respect all the other underdogs out there. I also understand the function of a label and how it could absolutely be beneficial. For me? We will have to see. I’m not knocking it but I’m not exactly gunning for it. There’s a purpose and a plan for my music career even if I don’t know what all it entails. I can say whatever happens I’m excited thankful and blessed to be a part of the ride.
Q:Where do you find inspiration to write, it seems you look inside of yourself but there has to be more to this creativeness then just that?
A:I absolutely do look inward for inspiration. But I also look outward. I have a very overactive imagination, and I also have the ability to be able to listen to somebody else’s story and tell that story. So I gather a bunch of different things when it comes down to songwriting production and music videos.
Q:Who inspires you in the spoken word community and why do they if you have someone that does?
A: There’s a lot of folks that inspire me. I would definitely say a lot of the southern hip-hop artist, and a few from out west. Rappers, singers and bands that I grew up on. To name a few, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne,YelaWolf, jelly roll, Lecrae, Timbaland, Common, Jurassic 5, Cypress Hill, Black Thought (from the roots),Drake, Gary Clark Jr. Jill scott, The entire Dc go-go scene. This list could go on for about another 20 or 30 pages.
Q:Vocally what do you hope to improve on or learn throughout this new chapter in your life?
A: I hope to get better at my actual singing, and be able to increase my range, and harmonize better. I truly believe this is a journey not a destination, so there’s always room to improve and get better.
Q:Would you consider ever getting a band back into the works if the music called for it?
A: Absolutely. I have a very short tour and a major music festival coming up in the fall, and I definitely have a backing band for it.
Q:I feel like you’re a reader of books, if you are, do you have a go to book that you love if so what is it and why do you love it?
A: Believe it or not, I’m actually not a big book person. I am intrigued though and would like to dive into some books. I’m more of a writer and watcher.
Q:What or who has inspired you to keep doing the passion you have for music and for people who give up on their dreams what would you want to tell them to stay the course and if they have given up do you feel they can get back on it and re build and re start?
A: My circle, my kids, my true friends, and the Fanbase that I’m building up. They love me and support me even on my darker days. I absolutely would encourage those who have quit to jump back into it. My biggest thing is following dreams. I whole heartedly believe when you give up on your dreams, you give up on life. it’s definitely not easy, but you got a hang in there. You have to keep pushing and believing. So I wanna encourage others to follow their dreams much as I can.Rather it be through my music or anything else that I can contribute.
Q:What does it mean to have people supporting you through all your music career paths and how it feels to know you have a special effect on people’s lives?
A: For me it means the absolute world. It’s the reason why I started, and why I keep going. Rather it be people in my DM‘s, Telling me about their day, or people commenting about how cool my mohawk looks, or about how my music help them through a tough time. I’m thankful and grateful that I’m in a position to affect peoples lives in a positive way. I wasn’t always a positive person, and still have some negative moments of days. But I recognize that and I am ever trying to improve to be better today than I was yesterday, and hopefully that spreads.
Q:Anything else you want to add or I missed that you’re currently working on? Also how people can keep up to date with your music?
A: I think you covered at all. I want to thank you and East Coast romper so much for taking the time. I’m super thankful and grateful. I’m on all socials, and streaming on all music platforms, Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon music, tidal, and most recently I am now on iHeartRadio.