9 thoughts, prayers and concerns about Ray J’s interview on ‘Club Shay Shay’

OPINION: Ray J was on “Club Shay Shay,” and where Ray goes, shenanigans follow. He did not disappoint despite his best efforts to hold it together.

Ray J attends the 2023 BET Soul Train Awards on November 19, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Every so often, I send Ray J DMs. 

I realize that sounds odd, but since we’re already here let’s take it a step further (and clarify) with another outlandish statement: I want to be Ray J’s Alex Haley. 

What I mean by that is that I DM Ray J every so often because I would love to be the person who writes Ray J’s biography … as told to Panama Jackson. I send him messages because I imagine that every so often, he gets bored and scrolls through his messages. Thus far, I’ve not received a response, but I’m still hoping that one day, I’ll get a message back and get five minutes of his time to make my pitch. I believe there is a really solid memoir-in-essays living inside of Willie Norwood Jr. because I believe that he is and has been essential to Black pop culture since the mid-’90s. 

So you can imagine just how excited I was when a homie texted me that Ray J was going to be the next guest on Shannon Sharpe’s headline-making podcast, “Club Shay Shay.” “Club Shay Shay” came in hot with Katt Williams shortly after we rang in the new year and has been going non-stop with Mo’Nique and Amanda Seales. While Katt Williams’ bomb-dropping presence was a happy (and profitable) car crash, others have often shown up because of things going on either in pop culture or their lives. I have absolutely zero idea why Ray J was a guest on “Club Shay Shay,” but as with all things related to Ray J, we’re all better for it. As a longtime fan, appreciator and “One Wish”-truther, I had some thoughts, prayers and concerns about his interview on “Club Shay Shay.” 

1.  Three hours is entirely too long for anybody to sit on a couch and hold it together. 

As a big-picture item, I found myself impressed at how Ray J was trying to stay shenanigans-free. You can tell he intended to keep the energy positive, shade minimal and family un-embarassed. Here’s the problem with that: Three hours is a REALLY long time for anybody to sit and talk about themselves. When you add in brown liquor, even the strongest-willed participant will crumble. The last 45 minutes of this episode are a clinic in WTF?!? At one point, Ray actually gets up and hides behind a chair. You can see the slow decline into “Oh no!” I’ll bet his whole team was in the background praying for the interview to wrap. But that’s why we love Ray J and why his team has a job; anything is possible. 

2. This doesn’t need a whole bullet, but I’ll make it quick: Shannon still needs to work on those interviewing skills. 

Shannon told Ray J that Brandy was his sister enough times to get you drunk if you had to take a shot every time he pointed out their familial connection. Let’s just move on.

3. This is the most I’ve ever heard Ray talk about his gang affiliations. 

I’ve been aware of his gang-relatedness for years. On his “Raydiation” album, he has a song called “Centerview” in which he talks about his neighborhood in Carson and his set. There have been rumors, and there was the connection to Death Row through Suge Knight that he mentioned in the interview. It was interesting to see him open up so much. Despite No. 2, Shannon (and folks like Noreaga) really do get these cats to open up.

4. The way Ray J froze up when Shannon asked about Donald Sterling and Ray’s properties has me wanting to know the whole story.

We might need Michael Harriot to go into his investigative journalism bag. Ray J was dumbfounded that Shannon knew about it and even had his team ask his lawyers if he could talk about it (they said no), and now I want to know what in the world Ray J has been into. Again, this is why I love Ray J — anything is possible. Do you remember that time Snoop Dogg said he ended up in jail in Los Angeles in 1998 and Ray J was in the cell when he got there? Exactly. 


5. This has to be the first interview I’ve ever watched where Neil Armstrong got a shoutout. 

In the middle of Ray J trying to talk himself out of talking about his song, “I Hit It First,” he somehow ended up talking about space and condos on the moon and who got to the moon first. Then Neil Armstrong got a shoutout, and I promise you that was worth the time it took to get there. 

6. Ray J believing that a world without his sex tape with Kim Kardashian could have kept more people in college is the kind of pseudo-science I’m here for. 

Instead of politicians grilling Dr. Fauci about COVID, can we get a panel inquiry set up to discern if college enrollments have declined because of that sex tape and the eventual sex-for-social-media landscape Ray J believes he and Kim ushered in? Like, this is the stuff people really care to know that has real-world implications. The fact Ray J even has an anthropological theory like that is why I want to be his Alex Haley. I can’t even imagine the stuff he’d say; my nondisclosure agreement would be insane. 

7. His thoughts about what happens now after the Diddy-Cassie video are interesting. 

Ray seems really conflicted about how to engage with people he undoubtedly knows have done some egregious things. At the same time, his belief that Diddy deserves 1,000 lashes as penance is … this is why you shouldn’t do three-hour interviews.  

8. Ray J’s true gems (if you want to call them that) are in what he doesn’t say while talking about topics we expected. 

Conversations about dating his now-wife (they’re divorcing) and how they met, the Kim K sex tape, his relationship with Brandy (which seems like it needs some mending and is all his fault), the Ray2K saga (if you wanted “Love & Hip Hop Hollywood,” you saw some of it), why he doesn’t like to have money, and on and on. Ray opened up and then got coy at points that alluded to SO much more. It’s entirely worth the watch to me. 

9. Ray J said that “One Wish” is his most valuable asset at this point. 

That makes so much sense because that song is still so perfect. I’d love to write a whole essay about that from Ray J’s vantage point. Ya know, be Alex Haley for him.

Look, I know everybody doesn’t love Ray J like I do and that makes sense. But if you want to watch shenanigans from a seemingly harmless person who has brought so much random joy, then this episode is your move. 

Holla at me, Ray J!

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio and host of the award-winning podcast, “Dear Culture” on theGrio Black Podcast Network. He writes very Black things, drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).