Ray J, This Ain’t A Game
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday : Ray J, This Ain’t A Game

Following a successful two-year stint on the sitcom Moesha, R&B singer Ray J resumed his recording career. The singer’s sophomore disc, This Ain’t a Game, arrived in stores on June 19th, 2001. In the summer of 2001, The Neptunes sound was everywhere, so it was a no-brainer to work with them on the first single, “Wait a Minute.” 

Still a BOP twenty years later, “Wait a Minute” was a massive club and radio hit. Outside of the Hot 16 from Lil Kim though, the lyrics aren’t that memorable. However, the Neptune sound is undeniable, and even Ray J can glide himself into a hit song.  Another collaboration with The Neptunes followed for the second single, “Formal Invite.”

The song has the same vibes as its predecessor, but the groove of the song is undeniable. “Keep Your Head Up” is the album’s last single and finds Ray working with his sister’s long-time collaborator Rodney Jerkins. An inspirational woman’s anthem, it showed that Ray could output a good song given the suitable material.

Ray also found success working with Mr. Dalvin and DeVante of Jodeci on the sexy slow jam “Wet Me.” Given where R&B was at the time, it’s surprising that the label didn’t push this as a single during Spring Break season 2002. I could see the beach video in my head now. I was also fond of “No More,” a ballad from Silk member Johnathan Rasboro and producer Darrell Allamby.

Honestly though, the positive’s end there. The Neptunes have a rare miss with “Out of the Ghetto” (featuring Shorty Mack). While Ray J shows decent production skills on “Takin Control,” his attempts at lyricism are laughable, and the rest of the songs are typical filler.  I will give Ray J credit for attempting to step out of his sister’s shadow, and it’s just a shame he doesn’t have more robust material.

Final Grade: C

This Ain’t a Game is available on all streaming platforms.

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