By Damion Smalls
Ray DeeZy’s latest EP, “When It All Boils Down”, is set for release on digital platforms November 2. The following day, he’s celebrating the project at Fair Deal Grocery “The Spot 47”. Coinciding with the launch of his new website, Ray DeeZy is hosting an exclusive listening session on Fair Deal’s party bus and premiering a new episode of his web series, “From the Sea to the Table”.
Having spent the last several years splitting time between Virginia Beach with family and the Lowcountry, DeeZy returned home on a permanent basis earlier this year. Hailing from Goose Creek, DeeZy is appreciative of the Gullah Geechee influence he grew up imbedded with. The 29 year old has noticed how strong the connection has been between the culture and Charleston’s lauded cuisine scene.
Executive chefs at the area’s most trendy restaurants have thrived for decades off the culinary traditions originally generated by the Sea Island Gullah Geechee people, whose West African roots crafting unique seafood, vegetable and rice dishes have been plagiarized and profitized by cultural outsiders. Forced over to the Americas as enslaved peoples by European colonizers between the 17th and 19th centuries, the relocated Africans developed their own way of life known as Gullah Geechee by creating a new language, introducing African customs, cultivating products from the earth, and taking immense pride in their heritage. The genesis of “Southern cooking”, Gullah Geechee is mainstream today due to the work of its impassioned proponents and ancestors, who look to preserve the culture for tomorrow.
“When It All Boils Down” is the artist’s third professional project after releasing two in late 2017. The “Pardon My Pimpin’” EP was buoyed by 1970’s vibes and heavy hip-hop samples. “The prostitution era of the ‘70s led to the dope dealing era of the ‘80’s which led to the drug epidemic of the ‘90’s. I was just breaking all of that down in a lyrical way,” describes DeeZy referring to the EP. His follow-up, “No Love Lost”, saw the artist blend today’s upbeat trap sound with the ‘90’s hip-hop golden era style popularized by Jay Z, Scarface, Notorious B.I.G. and Outkast.
“When It All Boils Down” touches several timely local topics such as gentrification, heirs property and racism. DeeZy is confident that his message can be felt by anyone, however. “At the end of the day, folks are gonna listen and hear me out. They’re gonna understand, old or young.” He wants listeners to be ready for what “When It All Boils Down” has to offer, even beyond the music.
DeeZy’s website will feature artist merchandise, updates and catalog of music. The party bus listening session will run for 45 minutes around downtown Charleston. Patrons will be able to pick DeeZy’s brain regarding “When It All Boils Down”, track by track.
“From the Sea to the Table” made its debut October 16, with the first episode viewable through DeeZy’s YouTube page. “We’re showing the prep from the crabbing and fishing, the cleaning and seasoning, the cooking, and then eating at the table with the family,” says DeeZy. Local chefs, as seen in the first episode with Chef George Murray, are slated to participate in later episodes showcasing their knowledge, community efforts, love for food, Gullah appreciation and more. “It brings people together,” DeeZy says as he highlights the symbiotic relationship in the Black community with the way we eat, what we eat and how we live. “It’s a Charleston thing; there’s no place like this.”
DeeZy will host a Nov. 28 Exquisite Radio Open Mic Night at newly opened Black-owned West Ashley spot Chucktown Bar & Grille. Local musicians of any genre, dancers, poets, performance artists and the like are invited to the stage. Those interested in participating should contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nov. 3 celebration at The Spot 47 is a free event starting at 7pm, while the listening party is $10 per person. Gullah cuisine and other refreshments will be provided. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.