"I actually felt kind of relieved," Lavender tells The BoomBox. "We were at a point where everyone was trying to pick singles and no one was asking me, 'OK, Ray, what kind of singles would you pick?' They were picking all these singles and it was slowly draining the momentum of Ray Lavender and my brand."
Formerly signed to hitmaker Akon's imprint KonLive, Lavender has turned the page, starting over with the independent label, Global Artist Group. "The relationship with KonLive actually dissolved about three years ago," he reveals. "And it was with all respect. I just felt like I should venture off a little more to doing my own thing. Akon is a very busy guy and I love music, so respectfully he let me go off and do my own thing."
Choosing to pave his own lane proved to be the best decision Lavender could have made for his career. "I'm like, 'OK, if I lose, it's gonna be because I lose,'" he says matter-of-factly. "Not because somebody else picked a song for me that they thought was gonna be 'the song' and that song makes me lose. I was like, 'Let me push the 'pause' button on this, we'll go back to the drawing board and strategically put these records out, so we can come out right.'"
His first offering, the dance-influenced track "Tequila," is steadily gaining momentum and Lavender is already thinking of the follow-up. His only issue at this point is actually making a choice. "We were having a listening for a second single and it was almost like a tug-of-war," he says with a laugh, "Like a death grudge match, trying to find out which one would be the second single. People were cussin' and fussin'... It's a good problem to have when you're stuck between 'This is great' and 'This is greater.' You want to make an impact with whichever record it is."
As of now, the singer has the option of going with "We Love," a more conventional R&B record or his spin on pop-rhythmic with the track "Get Away." "'We Love' talks about the differences and the 'ins-and-outs' in relationships," he shares. "For example, I used to talk to a girl who got mad because she would text me and I didn't text her right back. I'd be like, 'Babe, I'm working, I can't just get right back to your text, that doesn't mean I don't love you.' At the end of the day we still love each other, we just love each other differently. It doesn't mean we don't love each other because we don't do the things we say we're gonna do."
"'Get Away' is just saying, 'I can't let her get away from me,'" he continues. "'I've been seeing this girl for a minute now, and every time I get ready to say something to her, something happens. This girl gives me the jitters. I feel like I'm in high school again dealing with this chick and once I get the nerve to walk up to her, she ends up doing something or having to leave.' And this is a true story. So in this last particular instance, some other dude got the nerve up before I did and was over there talking to her and she was giving him play."
Where many artists drop a first hit and forget about making the album a cohesive quality project, Lavender is at the finish line, already prepared to release an LP whenever the industry decides they're ready for him. "Collectively, everybody wants to drop an album but, you know how it goes, until we get one that really, really hits, we'll just continue to put these singles out. If any one of them sticks right, we'll follow up with an album."
He says his music has matured with him of course but more than anything Lavender says it's a lot more fun. His goal is firmly in place and he's aware of his second chance at dropping a debut album. "I'm very, very happy that I waited," Lavender says. "I didn't come all the way to this point to fail. You really only got one shot at a first impression."