Detroit-based crooner, songwriter, and producer Rashad (born Rashad Morgan) fell in love with the Motown sound at an early age. Singing the Motown songbook at his elementary-school talent shows came first, then came the church choir, an active choir that would often leave its west-side base for public performances downtown. It was at one of these performances that Rashad was discovered by former New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe member Michael Bivins, who was launching his own label. A 14-year-old Rashad would make his debut as Ray Ray on the 1999 album Michael Bivins Presents the Adventures of the Biv 10 Pee-Wee All-Stars, but this thrown-together group of preteen singers and rappers failed to sell and dissolved a year later. Now back in the real world, Rashad finished high school and went on to study music at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO. It was there he was granted access to a recording studio. Fascinated by the process of recording and producing music, Rashad spent most of his time in the studio and barely any in class. His grades proved it and a year later he was back in Detroit.
From 2003 to 2005 he worked on a bunch of projects including a gig with the Big Ticket Music Group, owned by Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn. While most of these projects ended up being nothing more than learning experiences, a relationship with Detroit production duo Sicknotes became much more. They introduced Rashad to new management and released his independent album People Call Me Ray Ray in September of 2005. A copy landed in the hands of Grand Hustle Entertainment — home to Southern rap stars T.I. and Young Dro — and soon Rashad was in Atlanta, writing and recording his Grand Hustle/Atlantic Records debut. The first single, the smooth "Tell 'Em What They Wanna Hear," became a huge hit on Detroit radio when it was released in May of 2006. ~ David Jeffries